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Sector news, 7 December 2014 - 3 January 2015

Former principal chosen to lead ETF review of non-GSCE English and maths quals FE Week, 18 December 2014

Former college principal Professor Ed Sallis will lead a taskforce looking at teaching and accreditation of maths and English for learners unable to reach D grade GCSE, the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has revealed. It comes as learners who record a D in English and maths at GCSE will, from next year, have to retake in pursuit of an improved grade, while those who get an E or below can try alternative qualifications in the hope of getting a C grade equivalent.


BIS response to select committee’s adult maths and English inquiry recognises ‘urgency of situation’ FE Week, 16 December 2014

The government’s response to a House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee inquiry into adult iteracy and numeracy has been welcomed as recognising the “urgency of the situation”. David Hughes, chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace), was among the first comment on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’s (BIS) report and video response to the committee, which called for a “high-profile campaign to tackle the alarmingly low levels of adult literacy and numeracy in England,” among other things. The committee, which issued its findings in September, also wanted to see greater co-operation across several government departments, a review of funding and a high profile national campaign. Further, its MP members rejected GCSEs as the only qualification by which attainment in numeracy and literacy should be judged.


MPs told 16 to 18 apprentice reforms could hit numbers FE Week, 15 December 2014

The number of 16 to 18 apprenticeships offer from employers could fall as a direct result of proposed reforms, the House of Commons Education Committee has heard. A panel of sector experts told MPs on the committee that the government’s decision to re-design frameworks in consultation with employers and route funding through employers, rather than providers, would increase the quality of apprenticeships. But they also warned reform proposals, which further include an “enforced” employer’s fee for 16 and 17-year-old learners, could put employers off. However, Federation of Small Businesses policy adviser for education and business support Dan Hooper said he would be prepared to accept a reduction in number in exchange “for the increase the quality”. The panel also warned former Education Secretary Michael Gove’s reforms to the English GCSE syllabus could have a knock-on effect on apprenticeships. Skills Minister Nick Boles has stepped away from his predecessor Matthew Hancock’s decision to scrap Functional Skills, and is currently considering a rebrand.


College governors get AoC code preview FE Week, 16 December 2014

The Association of Colleges (AoC) has launched a consultation on a proposed new code of governance for English colleges. Former head of FE and skills investment and performance at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Dr Sue Pember who is now AoC governance adviser, has spent the last six months travelling the country collecting ideas on what should feature in the code from more than 250 governors and other sector leaders. A draft version of the code, which is included in this article, was sent to colleges and other bodies with an interest in the sector accompanied by a letter from AoC chair Carole Stott inviting principals and chairs of governors to submit their views on the document before March 5.


Fourth ‘national college’ gets digital skills focus FE Week, 18 December 2014

England’s fourth national college will focus on digital skills and coding, it has been revealed. The National College for Digital Skills, which will begin working with part-time learners next year and open a new campus in London in 2016, will focus on higher apprenticeships and foundation degrees for learners over 18, with some provision for 16 to 18-year-olds, all at level three or above.


Employers 'to take lead' in move to boost careers advice BBC, 10 December 2014

Employers will take the lead in a new careers body that will broker links between schools and businesses in England, say ministers. The government has allocated £20m to start up the company but expects it ultimately to be fully independent. The move follows concerns that careers advice is far worse since schools took over responsibility for it from local councils in 2012. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said it was important young people heard about all their options, including apprenticeships, vocational training and higher education. She said changes to the National Careers Service would mean advisers could help young people as well as adults. Deirdre Hughes, who chaired a National Careers Council report into schools' careers guidance earlier this year, said the new body faced a number of challenges, in particular a survey of 300 employers which suggested more than half were not interested in engaging with schools because they saw no real benefits to their business.


Fall in number of young people starting apprenticeships, government figures reveal TES, 2 January 2015

New figures show that fewer young people are starting apprenticeships, prompting fears the scheme is failing to meet its key aim of tackling youth unemployment. Statistics published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) show a drop in the number of under-25s embarking on apprenticeships in the last year. At the same time, the number of over-60s taking apprenticeships has risen sharply, with Labour claiming the programme is being used to “re-badge” existing jobs. BIS figures show that among under 25s the number of new enrolments fell by 1,000 on 2012/13 and has slumped by almost 12,000 in two years. This is despite government incentives to firms providing apprenticeships for 16 to 24-year-olds. Figures released earlier this year showed the number of over-60s starting apprenticeships had risen by 715 per cent since 2009/10, while among those aged 45-59 it had risen by 522 per cent and by 374 per cent for 35-44-year-olds. A BIS spokesman said insistence on quality apprenticeships had had a short-term impact on numbers but they were expected to bounce back soon.