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31 August-6 September 2014

Preparing the ground for successful outcomes FE News, 3 September 2014

In this article, Andy Durman, VP of UK operations for the labour market information firm Economic Modelling Specialists International, looks at what he says will be a major shakeup for the FE sector. He says the government’s consultation Outcome-based Success Measures which apply to post-19 FE will shift the way performance is measured, away from qualifications-based assessment to assessment based on outcomes. That means colleges would be measured not by the qualifications their students gain, but by what happens to learners after they leave the institution. The government will be looking to colleges to prove they are providing the skills that employers and businesses need, and the strategically-important skills the country needs. The author says colleges will need to be as informed as possible about the needs of the local and regional labour market and to respond proactively.

Poor research on further education makes it easy to cut funding Guardian, 31 August 2014

In this article in the Guardian, Mark Ravenhall, chief executive of the Further Education Trust for Leadership, argues that unless leaders are given the time to research and think of solutions to the challenges the further education sector faces, it will remain marginalised. He said research is needed to show FE’s positive impact on the economy and society. Managers need to also have time to consider how their organisation interacts with others locally, how it can adapt to industry changes and how it might develop. The Further Education Trust for Leadership is going to announce its first round of fellowships which will give leaders the opportunity to spend time away from their day job to explore leadership thinking, supported by a senior academic from the Institute of Education.

Leps need more responsibility and funding to deliver on digital skills, adult education chief tells Lords FE Week, 3 September 2014

Local enterprise partnerships (Leps) should be given more responsibility and funding to point learners in the direction of opportunities to learn new digital skills, a sector leader told the House of Lords committee looking at the UK’s digital competitiveness. David Hughes, chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace), said the success of Leps at helping to deliver skills was patchy.

Leadership thinktank launches £50K future-gazing fellowships FE Week, 5 September 2014

A new FE leadership thinktank set up by former Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) chair Dame Ruth Silver has launched its first initiative with £50,000 fellowships to gaze into the future of the sector. The Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL), which launched over the summer with a budget of up to £5.5m left over following the closure in July last year of LSIS, is accepting applications for the research. The fellowships will cover the cost of sector managers taking time off from their roles with providers and other FE-related organisations to research and report on leadership issues affecting the future of the sector. Fellowship candidates will work with a university chair in FE leadership at the London-based Institute of Education (IoE). The applications are open to anyone involved in leadership with an interest in the sector, and must be lodged by October 10.

‘Don’t spend Bursary Fund cash on FE free meals top-up’ — DfE FE Week, 5 September 2014

Officials at the Department for Education (DfE) have told providers they can’t top up FE free meals allocations with Bursary Fund cash after it emerged a number of colleges were looking to boost the £2.41 hand-outs up to as much as £5. General FE colleges and independent learning providers, from this month, are required by law to provide FE free meals to qualifying disadvantaged 16 to 18-year-olds. Providers receive funding equivalent to £2.41 per student meal, but FE Week reported that a number of colleges wanted to give more, with the official guidance unclear on FE free meal top-up rules. Some wanted to use the 16-19 Bursary Fund, which is usually used to pay for travel, clothing and books for disadvantaged learners, but this has now been ruled out.

Impact of reforms to 16-18 education 'unclear', warns report TES, 4 September 2014

Better information is needed about the impact of government reforms to increase the number of 16- to18-year-olds taking part in education or training, according to a new report. The report by the National Audit Office says the overall value for money for 16-18-year-old learning increased after ministers raised the participation age and cut funding. At the end of 2013 81.2 per cent of 16-18 year olds were in education or government funded training, up from 79.2 per cent at the end of 2013, and the proportion classes as NEETs fell to 7.6 per cent, the lowest level for 20 years. At the same time the DfE core budget for the age group was 8 per cent lower than 2010-11.The report says the DfE needs better information so it knows which of its reforms have made a difference. It also raises concerns about careers advice and guidance, and that if large numbers of Ofsted assessments of school careers provision continued the DfE should reconsider its role with regard to careers advice.

'Adult education needs to place equal emphasis on vocational routes' TES, 4 September 2014

The Association of Colleges has called on the government to “re-shape” adult education in England to place equal emphasis on higher-level technical and vocational routes. Martin Doel, chief executive of the AoC, said colleges are “perfectly placed” to train adults to help solve the skills shortage, but need more money to do so. Funding cuts have led to a 35 per cent reduction in the adult skills budget over the past five years and the introduction of FE loans for students aged 24 and over has seen numbers of enrolments onto advanced and higher level courses decline by 20 per cent.