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Sector news, 6 - 12 April 2014

Sharp rise in degree starts at FE colleges, HEFCE report shows FE Week, 10 April 2014

The number of students starting degree courses at further education colleges in England has risen by almost 60 per cent in the past three years. Data published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England shows the number starting undergraduate study at FE colleges in 2013/14 was 10,000 higher than in 2010/11, an increase of 57 per cent. In the same period, the number starting at higher education institutions (HEIs) fell by 16,000. The data also shows that the larger decreases in starts at higher education institutions were at those with medium or low average tariff scores.

Schools to be forced to tell learners about FE and skills options FE Week, 10 April 2014

Schools will be forced to tell learners about vocational study and apprenticeship options by law after the government published statutory guidelines on careers advice. For the first time, schools have been told they have to offer independent, impartial careers advice including the full range of options available to learners, and prove they are doing so in the best interests of pupils. The guidance has been published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, for governing bodies, school leaders and staff. The guidance was welcomed by Rob Wall, head of education and employment policy at the Confederation of British Industry.

New £2.9m research centre for adult literacy and numeracy FE Week, 8 April 2014

The government is investing £2.9m in a new research centre that will focus on improving adult literacy and numeracy. Skills Minister Matthew Hancock announced the launch of the Behavioural Insights Research Centre for Maths and English during a Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee hearing on adult numeracy and literacy. It will receive a three year start-up grant of £2.9 million from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). He said the centre would team world leading academic researchers with policy makers to give scientific insights into how adults best gain skills in English and maths, and the way more people can be helped to reach their potential. Joy Mercer, director of policy at the Association of Colleges (AoC), said the AoC was very encouraged by BIS’s commitment to investment, and David Hughes of NIACE said they were looking forward to working with the new centre.

Fewer international science students come to 'unwelcoming' UK Guardian, 11 April 2014

An "unwelcoming UK" has seen a drop in the number of international students studying science, technology, engineering and maths, according to a House of Lords report. It said the policy on immigration has had a negative impact on international student enrolments on UK Stem courses, which have fallen by more than 10% in the past two years. Produced by the House of Lords science and technology committee, the report urges the government to rethink its policy on immigration, and remove international students from net migration figures.

Rise in number of unqualified teachers at state-funded schools in England Guardian, 10 April 2014

In 2012 Michael Gove gave academies and free schools choice to hire unqualified staff, and there are now thousands more of them. Unions reacted angrily after official figures showed a sharp rise in the number of unqualified teachers employed by state-funded schools in England. The Department for Education figures revealed that, after years of decline in the number of unqualified teachers in classrooms, there was a sharp jump from 14,800 in 2012 to 17,100 in November 2013, when the national survey was carried out. The number of frontline staff without qualified teaching status (QTS) employed by academies and free schools rose by 2,600 to nearly 8,000 – meaning nearly 6 per cent of the 141,000 full-time teaching staff at both types of school lack teaching accreditation. In free schools, teachers without QTS represent 13 per cent of 1,500 full-time teachers. In contrast, teachers without QTS make up 3.8 per cent of teachers in state-funded schools overall. Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, said he would scrap the policy and insist all teachers had qualifications or were training towards them. Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said recent surveys commissioned by the union showed a clear majority of parents wanted their children taught by qualified professionals.

Part-time student numbers plummet – thanks to government indifference Guardian, 11 April 2014

In this article, Tricia King, pro-vice-master at Birkbeck, University of London, looked at the decline by 46 per cent in the number of people going to university to study part-time since 2010. She said it was shocking but not surprising, as it was clear that part-time education was not a priority for this government, although it helped upskill and reskill the workforce, support economic growth, promotes social mobility and helped disadvantaged individuals to improve their lot. She said most of the decline had been in courses which help non-traditional students find a way of getting started. At Birkbeck, they were running 50 evening-taught undergraduate degrees as three-year programmes, offered through Ucas, so students can work in the daytime, and they still count as full time degrees.

Pilot scheme for FE English GCSE teaching enhancement course to start in mid-April FE Week, 3 April 2014

A pilot scheme will soon be launched for a training course preparing FE lecturers for a massive expansion in the number of students needing to learn English GCSE. The Department for Education (DfE), Education and Training Foundation (ETF), and Association of Centres for Excellence in Teacher Training (ACETT) confirmed before Christmas they were developing an English enhancement programme. The ETF said 80 applications have been received from providers that want to take part in a pilot scheme for the course, which will run from mid-April to July. The main course, which will help FE lecturers teach English at GCSE, is set to be launched in September. An ACETT spokesperson said: “ACETT is sharing our learning with the ETF, from coordinating the delivery of the GSCE maths enhancement programme, to inform the future delivery model of the English GCSE professional development programme.” A maths enhancement course for FE lecturers was launched last November, with an ETF subsidy limiting the cost of the course to £100 per person, and more than 2,000 people have enrolled.