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Sector news, 8 - 14 December 2013

Access to best teaching is down to luck, says Ofsted Guardian, 11 December 2013

The uneven quality of schools across the country means England is a nation divided into "lucky and unlucky children" in terms of access to high-quality teaching, and poverty is no longer a predictor of educational failure, the head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, will argue today. He will praise reforms that have improved education at inner-city schools in London, Manchester and Newcastle, and will say some of the least fortunate pupils are going to poorly performing schools in the relatively affluent home counties and the east of England. Ofsted's data is to show that seven of the best performing local authorities are in London, and East Anglia is home to the worst-performing primary schools in the country. Improvements have been seen among deprived children from every minority ethnic group in recent years according to Ofsted, but progress has been slow in schools dominated by working-class white children. But overall Wilshaw is expected to say that the “battle against mediocrity” is gradually being won.


Students prepare for mass protest against police on campusGuardian, 11 December 2013

Students across the country are expected to take part in a mass demonstration against police presence on campuses on Wednesday afternoon. The protest has nearly 2,400 attendees on its Facebook page and is planned at 2pm at the University of London and at other campuses around the UK, including Manchester, leeds, Birmingham Aberdeen, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester and Preston. Labelled a "national day of action", the protest is a response to police violence against student campaigns. Those involved are angry at the 41 arrests made by police at a ULU protest last Wednesday, and at the university’s responding injunction which banned students from protesting on campus. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police says that the police will have an appropriate presence at the demonstration.


Grounds for optimism says Ofsted — but providers ‘not meeting employer needs’FE WSeek, 11 December 2013

Local employer needs are not being met by the FE and skills sector, according to the Ofsted annual report. Despite higher expectations of students and improved teaching and learning providing “grounds for optimism” about the sector, it was delivering “too much provision that is not responsive to local employment needs”. The report said there was no structure, accountability measure or system of incentives to ensure that FE and skills provision is adapted to local economic and social needs. It went on to reveal plans for a review of the “appropriateness of provision in meeting local needs”, and a Data Dashboad to “ensure governors have accessible data to hold leaders and managers to account.” It also found though that across the whole sector, 71 per cent of providers were judged good or outstanding at their latest inspection, an increase of seven percentage points compared with August 2012. But the report also pointed to a number of large colleges that had fallen from good or outstanding over the last year, including Liverpool, Coventry and Bristol. The number of inadequate providers increased from 34 to 41.


Funding cut in pipeline for full-time 18-year-olds as Spending Review bitesFE Week, 10 December 2013

The Education Funding Agency has announced plans to save £150m by paying 17.5 per cent less for the full-time education of 18-year-olds in comparison with 16 and 17-year-olds. The current, unweighted, funding rate for 16, 17 and 18-year-olds is £4,000. The new rate for 16 and 17-year-olds is expected to be announced in March, but at the current rate 18-year-olds would be funded at £3,300. It said the cut would come into force
for 2014/15, by which time, it argued, most 18-year-olds would not need “as much non-qualification provision within their study programmes” because they will have already benefited from two years of post-16 education. However Association of Colleges chief executive Martin Doel said: “By definition these are the students who need extra help, not less.”


Apprenticeship ‘loans in line for chop’ FE Week, 12 December 2013

The troubled 24+ advanced learning loans system for apprenticeships could be axed after just 404 people applied for funding since April’s launch, FE Week revealed. They said a source claimed the future of the system was being “considered” by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Figures released in November showed that of the 52,468 FE loan applications up to October 31, below 1 per cent were for apprenticeships, well off the government forecast of 25,000 applications by July 31, 2014. BIS said numbers indicated employers and learner were not engaging with loans in apprenticeships, and a close eye was being kept but no decisions have been made.


Learners’ own jobs could get study programme funding FE Week, 13 December 2013

Learners’ part-time paid jobs could be publicly-funded as part of the new study programmes for 16 to 19-year-olds, FE Week reported. It had seemed the DfE would only allow unpaid work experience organised through colleges or independent learning providers to form part of the programmes. This would mean a student working part time to help pay for their education would have to give it up to complete their unpaid work experience. But the DfE has now said work experience and supported internships will be funded where the provider has planned, organised and supervised the placement and it forms a part of the student’s study programme, and now also teaching time spent helping students ensure that the part-time work they are undertaking directly benefits their study goals could be.


Progress update for the ETF at the end of 2013 FE Week, 13 December 2013

In this article, Rebecca Cooney looks back at the first 18 months of the Education and Training Foundation, since it was first announced as, originally, the guild. In April an implementation plan was released detailing £18.8 million funding from BIS for two years, after which it was to move towards being self-funded, and it was launched on August 1. The foundation now has a set of tenders out including a set of consultations on English, maths and STEM, graduate recruitment, leadership and governance and vocational education and training.