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Sector news, 1 - 8 February 2014

nions on collision course with colleges over bid to slash sick pay TES, 6 February 2014

The TES reported how the Association of Colleges had put forward a new sick pay policy, which was likely to put it on a collision course with six trade unions. The policy would see long-serving staff miss out on up to two months of sick leave on full pay, and an extra four months on half pay, each year. The unions are meeting to decide whether they should withdraw all cover for colleagues absent through sickness. The AoC says the change is necessary to cut the £21 billion bill for sick pay which its members face every year. The six unions representing teaching, support and managerial staff in the sector – the AMiE, ATL, GMB, UCU, Unison and Unite – have unanimously rejected the proposals.

£20m scheme to recruit 500 extra maths teachers for FE sector unveiled FE Week, 5 February 2014

Graduate maths teachers who choose to teach in FE colleges will get a bonus of up to £10,000 under a £20m plan unveiled by the Government to recruit 500 new maths teachers in the sector. Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock announced the new measure in the wake of changes to traineeships, apprenticeships and vocational education which places more importance on maths. Graduates who choose to teach in FE will receive a bonus of £7,500, in their first year, rising to £10,000 if they train to support learners with special educational needs. Colleges will also get up to £20,000 if they recruit a specialist grade maths teacher, and £30,000 for those which share teaching expertise with other colleges and learning providers. A scheme to give bursaries to trainee maths teachers has been extended to the 2014/15 academic year.

Hayes in FE ‘comeback’ after year out FE Week, 7 February 2014

Former Skills Minister John Hayes has called for more to be done to improve careers advice for young. Speaking on FE and skills for the first time since leaving the role, Mr Hayes said the sector had a lot to be proud of. He was proud he established the National Careers Service, but said careers education had to be given the priority it deserved.

Loans process ‘putting off learners’ FE Week, 7 February 2014

Fears have been raised that a lengthy application process for FE loans could be putting people off starting courses. David Hughes, chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace), claimed there was a “worrying conversion rate” between the number of students offered 24+ advanced learning loans and those who took up the offer and started courses. He said it could have been caused by the slow processing of loans, though the Student Loans Company said this had improved. A spokesman for BIS declined to comment.

Jobcentres steer teens away from traineeships FE Week, 7 February 2014

Jobcentre Plus (JCP) advisers have been told not to direct 18 and 19-year-olds to the government’s traineeship scheme because it would put their benefits at risk, FE Week has learned. FE Week says it has seen documents which show staff in a number of JCPs are being told to ignore the work experience and employability programme — even though the rule affecting benefits is due to be by-passed. In the Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne promised trainees would be exempt from the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) rule preventing anyone working or training for more than 16 hours a-week claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). However, there has been no further announcement. The Association for Employment and Learning Providers said it had had a productive meeting with the DWP and were hopeful the change with regards to the 16-hour rule would take place shortly.

Other news items highlighted by Cambridge Assessment Network:

'Education is about more than exam results' Telegraph, 7 February 2014

Pupils branded ‘too clever’ for apprenticeships Independent, 5 February 2014

England apprenticeship vacancies 'up 24%', says NAS BBC News, 5 February 2014

'A radical manifesto for education and training that will stop us falling behind.' TES, 30 January 2014

Core A-level courses scrapped after cuts of £100m for sixth-form colleges. Independent, 3 February 2014

HE gender divide could eclipse poverty gap in next decade SecEd, 3 February 2014

Education system too chaotic, says David Blunkett. Guardian, 6 February 2014

Fear of technology may hold back change in education, says Lord Puttnam. Telegraph, 4 February 2014