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Sector news, 29 July - 3 August 2013

Skills call on LEPs accepted by government FE Week, 29 July 2013

The government has accepted a recommendation that skills should be a core priority for Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS). The recommendation was made by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee in April, in a report which also said LEPs should demonstrate engagement with providers. The government said LEPs had a “number of levers to strengthen their engagement with providers,” for example Chartered status for FE colleges was now dependent upon having taken into account the skills priorities of local LEPs.


FE Commissioner selection ongoingFE Week, 29 July 2013

The new FE Commissioner is yet to be appointed despite interviews by officials from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), FE Week understands. A number of candidates have already been spoken to, but none has been appointed to the role — or to any of its seven advisory posts. When the new role was announced in April it was hoped its posts would be filled by June, but a BIS spokesperson confirmed the interview and appointment process was ongoing.


Traditional three-year university is not only path to top, CBI tells teenagersIndependent, 31 July 2013

Teenagers should be told to drop the idea that a traditional three-year university degree course is the only route to a top job, Britain’s businesses warn today. Instead, they should be encouraged to embark upon “earn-while-you-learn” courses equipping them with the high level skills they need for employment. A report by the Confederation of British Industry dismisses the idea which has been fashionable in government circles for decades that increasing numbers of school leavers should follow traditional university courses. The report, Tomorrow’s Growth, argues for moves towards more shorter and part-time degree courses or “sandwich” courses which include a year in industry. It says traditional degree courses will not meet the needs of key industries likely to expand such as manufacturing, construction, IT and engineering. It also urges ministers to act to combat the “catastrophic” slump in the numbers taking part-time degree courses to allow older workers to retrain and learn the skills of the new growth industries.


New principal hopes for turnaround at ‘inadequate’ City College Coventry FE Week, 30 July 2013

A new principal has been appointed at City College Coventry just months after its Grade four, or inadequate, inspection report. Former City of Wolverhampton College interim principal John Hogg has taken over at Coventry where he has begun a series of meetings with staff and students and is developing an improvement plan. He studied law at the University of Warwick, before taking a postgraduate certificate of education, and then he began his FE career as a law lecturer at Coventry Technical College, before moving to Tile Hill College in the city. He then moved to other colleges before becoming principal at Middlesbrough College in 2000. He said: “While turning the college around will be challenging I believe that by working together we will see a significant and sustained improvement relatively quickly.”


New FE professionalism body set for launch FE Week, August 1 2013

The FE sector’s new professionalism and standards organisation, the Education and Training Foundation, was due to launch today. The body, funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and formerly known as the FE Guild, was expected to start work with its first board meeting, in London. The ETF will be funded with £18.8 million for each of the first two years. Sir Geoff Hall, foundation interim chief executive, said: “Our priorities are to improve learner experience and outcomes, to enhance the reputation of the sector, to develop provider good practice, to make the sector an attractive place to join and work, and to promote and champion equality and diversity across the sector.”


Government’s £20k carrot for college teachers FE Week, August 1 2013

Graduates will be offered grants of up to £20,000 to teach at FE colleges, Business Secretary Vince has announced. The government is hoping the incentive will help improve numeracy and literacy among vocational learners, especially in areas like engineering where, said a government spokesperson, the UK had a “massive skills shortage”. Maths graduates will be offered up to £20,000, while a maximum of £9,000 will be available for English graduates. The grants, including up to £9,000 for those wanting to specialise in teaching SEN students, will go toward initial teacher training for 2013/14 graduates. Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: “These bursaries will help us recruit the brightest and best teachers so we can improve standards and provide people with the basic skills they need for a rewarding career.” The bursaries will be available for two years and, in addition, £1m in grants will fund high-level specialist training for those already working with students with SEN, through continuous professional development.Further details on the grants, covering the application and payment process along with eligibility criteria, are expected in the autumn.


AoC on lookout for good zero-hour contracts FE Week, 1 August, 2013

The Association of Colleges (AoC) is on the hunt for “good” examples of zero-hour contracts amid an investigation into the controversial agreements by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The University and College Union is campaigning against their use and is expected to issue findings soon about how widespread they are among colleges. The contracts have been criticised for leaving staff without guaranteed hours, sick or holiday pay and making it difficult to get tenancy agreements, credit cards or loans because people cannot demonstrate they have a regular income. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has also criticised them. The AoC said it was looking for examples of good practice to examine how zero hour contracts could benefit the employer and worker.


Minister takes to Twitter to say ‘thanks’ as LSIS programmes end FE Week, 1 August, 2013

The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) programmes and support officially ended last night, and key sector figures took to Twitter to bid the organisation farewell. Many tweets wished LSIS staff members good luck in their future careers, and expressed hopes that LSIS resources would continue to be available through the Education and Training Foundation. Last month David Hughes, who chaired the foundation steering group, confirmed it would be taking over support for LSIS’s clerks’ training and the current cohort on the senior leadership development programme, as well as the Excellence Gateway, which he said the foundation would “continue and try to review and develop going forward”.


FE sector launches self-improvement body FE Week, 1 August, 2013

A ceremonial handing over of the Education and Training Foundation’s certificate of incorporation sealed the new FE sector self-improvement body’s official launch today. It followed the first official foundation board meeting, at London’s Goldsmiths’ Centre, in which the recruitment of the body’s permanent chair and its chief executive featured on the agenda along with proposals for the appointment of directors. It was also revealed that seven staff from the sector’s former improvement body the Learning and Skills Improvement Service, had transferred to the foundation leaving 25 posts to fill.


Students wary of postgraduate degree cost, suggest survey Times Higher, 3 August, 2013

Two thirds of UK undergraduates do not believe a postgraduate degree is worth the cost, a survey of more than 1,100 students has found. Only 35 per cent of respondents in their second or third year replied “yes” when asked if they thought obtaining a postgraduate degree would be value for money. This contrasted with master’s and PhD students, where 59 and 77 per cent respectively felt that their postgraduate degree was worth the price. According to the latest Higher Education Funding Council for England figures there was a fall of six per cent in postgraduate numbers in 2011-12.