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Sector news, June 25 - 29 2012

Headteachers set to fight back over Ofsted inspections  The Guardian, 25 June 2012

Anger over the new Ofsted regime has caused a big increase in complaints by headteachers about their reports. Now some are threatening to throw out inspectors they regard as incompetent. The article features an interview with Gerard Murphy, head of Broughton Hall high school in Liverpool, previously judged by Ofsted to be outstanding, but at its most recent inspection in January when it was one of the first inspected under the new regime it was considered to be only satisfactory, which now means it must improve or face sanctions. Murphy is fighting back, with the support of his local authority, diocesan authorities and MP, saying the school has been treated unfairly under the new rules. Figures from Ofsted show that in the first five months of the new framework one in 12 schools inspected made a formal complaint afterwards.


School exams: Is bringing back O-levels a good idea? The Guardian, 25 June 2012

The Guardian asks educationists what they think of Michael Gove's plans to replace GCSEs with O-levels. Answers are varied.

 We need engineers and electricians, not more hairdressers and personal trainers, colleges are told The Guardian, 26 June 2012

Research by the Local Government Association says that young people are being failed by an education system which is churning out lots of qualified hair and beauty workers, personal trainers and media professionals for jobs that do not exist, but there is a shortage of young people being taught skills for jobs which have shortages. It says there is a need to recruit more electricians, plumbers, engineers and environmental officers than the system is creating. The LGA says last year there were more than 94,000 people who completed hair and beauty courses, for just 18,000 new jobs. More than double the number of people were trained to work in hospitality, sport and leisure than there were jobs advertised. Colleges also trained more than 83,000 people to fill 65,000 jobs in broadcasting, journalism and public relations.

Last year fewer than 40,000 people trained to fill around 72,000 new jobs in the building and engineering trades, and in the construction sector 123,000 people were trained for 275,000 advertised jobs. It blames a huge "skills mismatch" on a further education system that sees college funding based on studying and passing qualifications rather than job outcomes.


Drop in number of pupils staying in school after 16 The Guardian, 28 June 2012

The numbers of teenagers staying in school after age 16 has fallen for the first time in a decade, according to government figures. The proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training (“neet”) has risen by 8 per cent. There are 32,000 fewer students in full time education now compared with 2011, the first time the numbers have dropped since 2001. From next year, pupils will have to wait until they are 17 before leaving education and training. In 2015, this will be raised to 18.

Huge rise in graduates in low-paid jobs The Independent, 29 June 2012

The number of graduates forced to take up low-paid jobs has doubled in the past five years, according to figures released yesterday. They show that those who have headed into "elementary occupations" – such as cleaning, roadsweeping, labouring, working in the school meals service and hospital portering – rose from 5,460 in 2006-7 to 10,270 last year. The proportion of graduates thought to be unemployed six months after leaving has soared from 5 per cent to 9 per cent. The figures come from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Chill wind from Gloucestershire as fears grow over recruitment shortfalls Times Higher Education, 28 June 2012

Some higher education institutions may be falling well short on undergraduate recruitment for next year, with the University of Gloucestershire warning staff that it is 30 per cent below its target for 2012-13. In an email the Times Higher Education says it has seen, Stephen Marston, the university's vice-chancellor, has told staff that the university has 1,611 "firm applicants" so far, but its target is 2,330 full-time home undergraduates. Gloucestershire, which set annual undergraduate tuition fees for 2012-13 at £8,250, is recovering from a historic debt that currently stands at around £22 million. Recent data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, published in April, shows a 9 per cent decline in undergraduate applications by UK students for 2012, with a 23 per cent decline in unconditional firm acceptances from students who already have their A-level grades, including those who took a gap year, and mature students.

O-level plans spark fears of 'backward step' for FE TES, 29 June 2012

College leaders have warned that education secretary Michael Gove's contentious plans to bring back O levels could have major and damaging consequences for the FE sector. Restoring a two-tier system could lead to some being classed as successes or failures before their 16th birthdays claims Mike Hopkins, principal of Middlesbrough College. He says he got three O levels and was seen as a failure. NIACE chief executive David Hughes said it would be a backward step. Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said he did not know of anyone in the sector who was consulted on it.


Ofsted promises ‘level playing field’ TES, 29 June 2012

Ofsted has vowed to create a “level playing field” to ensure that schools are judged on the same criteria as FE and sixth-form colleges. At present, separate frameworks are used to inspect different institutions, and colleges have long complained that they are treated more harshly than schools as a result. The set-up also makes it impossible for students and parents to make fair comparisons. The Sixth Form Colleges’ Forum (SFCF) last week said that more than 300 schools have a worse success rate than the lowest-performing college - but many of them are rated “outstanding” for their post-16 provision. Ofsted national director of learning and skills, Matthew Coffey, told the SFCF’s summer conference last week that, from September, inspectors will use “the full range of achievement measures available” and compare colleges to “all national averages”, rather than just the same kind of provider.