Skip to main content

Sector news, 5 - 11 October 2014

Functional Skills here to stay, says Boles FE Week, 11 October 2014

Functional Skills “will continue to be one of the types of qualification that learners have available,” according to a newly-published letter from Skills Minister Nick Boles. The letter from Boles to Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey seemed to offer hoped-for support for the qualifications, which aim to equip learners with basic English, maths and ICT skills, said FE Week. It followed comments from Boles at a Conservative Party conference fringe event hosted by FE Week in which he described functional skills as “important” and said he would work with Ofqual to improve elements of the qualification, including branding.

'Reinvigorate' practical learning in schools to tackle Neets, says charity TES, 10 October 2014

The next government must create more specialist schools and “reinvigorate” practical learning to tackle the problem of Neets once and for all, according to an educational charity. The Edge Foundation, which campaigns for vocational and technical learning, says that despite signs of progress, too many young people are still classed as Neet (not in education, employment or training). Chief executive of Edge Jan Hodges said the next government needed to create more specialist 14-18 schools such as university technical colleges and career colleges and reinvigorate practical learning in schools, including in classrooms, laboratories, workshops and even outdoors. It also calls for a baccalaureate that recognises the full breadth of young people’s achievements up to the age of 18, an entitlement to impartial face-to-face information, advice and guidance for all young people, and top priority given to apprenticeships.

Colleges to be graded on apprenticeships in Ofsted overhaul TES, 9 October 2014

Ofsted will grade colleges and training providers on their apprenticeships, traineeships and adult-learning programmes, under a wide-ranging inspection overhaul announced today. The watchdog is considering separate grades for different areas of FE provision, which could also include 16-19 study programmes, employability and community learning. Lorna Fitzjohn, Ofsted's national director for learning and skills, said the move would help employers to make informed decisions about which FE providers to work with. Other proposed changes include more regular inspections for institutions rated good, with them visited every three years, with the inspections typically lasting a day and a half. Ofsted also revealed it had no plans to introduce no-notice inspections for all providers. The consultation on the proposals, which would come into effect in September 2015, ends on 5 December.

Claims that colleges deliver irrelevant courses are misguided and ill-informed Guardian, 8 October 2014

In this article, 157 Group chief executive Lynne Sedgemore responded to a piece the previous week by Professor Sa’ad Medhat, and said he needed to do more homework on the FE sector. She said students are engaged in more than 1,300 businesses that are open to the public, so doing what he already suggests by working on “real life projects”, and also ignores other facts about current FE. She was also wary of his suggestion that the funding and qualification systems were at the root of the problem, and that every phase of past reforms have been driven by a desire to put employers in the driving seat. She said this did not deny there were real issues in the sector, such as how to design and fund better opportunities for college staff to regularly refresh their professional expertise. *See 23 September - 4 October 2014 Sector news for link to original article.

Young people lack skills needed for world of work, says British Chambers of Commerce TES, 3 October 2014

British businesses think young people lack the skills they need to succeed in the workplace, according to a new survey. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said the findings of it annual Workforce Survey suggest stronger links must be formed between schools, colleges and businesses. The survey of almost 3,000 companies reveals that 88 per cent of businesses believe school leavers are unprepared for the world of work. More than three-quarters (76 per cent) report a lack of work experience as one of the key reasons young people are unprepared for work. More than half (57 per cent) said that young people are lacking basic ‘soft’ skills, such as communication and team working, to succeed in the working world. The BCC made a number of recommendations to better prepare young people for work and to encourage businesses to play a greater role in preparing the next generation of workers. This includes universal work experience in all secondary schools, and assessing schools, colleges and universities on the employment outcomes of their pupils, rather than just exam results.