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Sector news, 9 - 15 February 2014

A college of teaching: putting teachers in charge of professional standards The Guardian, February 2014

A college of teaching would allow educators – not politicians – to determine what constitutes high professional standards. Dane Alison Peacock, head teacher at The Wroxham School, in this article in the Guardian, outlines a blueprint for how the organisation could work, and says it is an initiative which would have the support of teachers, the unions and all political parties.

Relief greets news of 'better than expected' university budget The Guardian, 11 February 2014

Universities are bracing themselves for significant cuts to teaching budgets totalling around £160m next year, while welcoming efforts to shield poorer students and high-cost courses from the worst of the cutbacks. The announcement of the cash in the 2014-15 budget was less bleak than had been feared. The grant letter from the government to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) requires the council to protect expensive-to-teach subjects such as science and technology and to ensure money continues to go towards attracting and retaining non-traditional students. A third priority will be small and specialist institutions. Research funding will be frozen at this year’s level of £1,573m, though this represents a real-terms cut after inflation. Vice-chancellors, meanwhile, have been told to control their generous salaries.

More than 30 expert advisers announced at the Education and Training Foundation FE Week, 12 February 2014

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has unveiled the make-up of three expert panels with the announcement of more than 30 appointments. Panels for leadership, governance and management; vocational education and training; and, professional standards and workforce development have seen 32 appointments, including a chair, co-chair and independent adviser to each. Plans for a panel on knowledge and intelligence were put on hold, but among the appointments announced this week were college principals, governors and directors, independent learning provider chief executives and managing directors, union leaders, local authority heads and university professors. The story includes the names of many of these board members.

New MPs’ investigation into adult literacy and numeracy under way FE Week, 11 February 2014

Adult literacy and numeracy levels in England are coming under the spotlight of the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee, which has launched an investigation into the findings of last year’s survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which found that adults in England and Northern Ireland were falling well behind the rest of the world in English and maths skills. The opening committee session heard from a range of experts in adult skills about the impact of social class on learning, the need for specialist teacher training and the potential of “peer-to-peer” training to help solve the problem. Dr Helen Casey, executive director of the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy, said it was difficult to identify adults in need of help with reading and maths as many hid what they could not do. She said more qualified, specialised adult skills teachers, particularly for maths, could help.

Adult Skills Budget in line for 19 per cent funding cut FE Week, 10 February 2014

The government’s Adult Skills Budget is facing a cut of 19 per cent by 2016, the long-awaited Skills Funding Statement (SFS) has revealed. It shows that the Adult Skills Budget will fall from its current rate of £2.467bn to £2.004bn by 2016, a cut of more than £463m, or 19 per cent. Skills Minister Matthew Hancock has also announced that government funding will be extended to all apprenticeships after the failed application of the FE loans scheme to the programme for over 24s. He confirmed that apprentices over 24 would be removed from the scheme, and the SFS document confirms that loans already issued will not have to be repaid.

More than one in four girls want to drop maths at 14, survey finds TES, 11 February 2014

Girls are considerably more likely than boys to want to drop maths by the time they are 14, a survey out today shows. The poll of 2,000 12 and 13 year olds found that 28 per cent of girls would drop maths if they could, but only 17 per cent would drop English. Boys thought that maths was more important, with just 22 per cent saying they would stop studying the subject up to the age of 16 were it not compulsory. Slightly more – 26 per cent – said that they would drop English. The survey, which was sponsored by the Nationwide building society, also found that less than half of students could work out what change to expect from £100 if they had bought shopping worth £64.23. The poll comes as the the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also flagged up its concerns about girls’ attitudes towards mathematics.Sue Pope, chair of the general council of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics, said that students should be encouraged to value mathematics regardless of their career plans.

£460m cuts to adult skills budget 'will lead to jobs and courses being cut, colleges warn TES, 10 February 2014

The government is to slash £460 million from the adult skills budget, forcing colleges and training providers to make “difficult decisions” about cutting jobs and courses to balance the books, FE leaders have warned. The skills funding statement was finally published this afternoon by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, more than two months later than expected. The overall skills budget increases by £56 million for 2014-15, before falling by £271 million the following year to £3.87 billion. The adult skills budget faces substantial cuts for two consecutive years, equating to a 19 per cent (£463 million) drop in funding by 2015-16 to just over £2 billion. Julian Gravatt, assistant chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said it would mean fewer unemployed people going on courses. He called on the Skills Funding Agency to work quickly in providing institutions with the individual funding allocations to help them budget for the next academic year.

News as reported by the Cambridge Assessment Network:

How we could solve the riddle of higher education funding The Guardian

Government 'overestimates' student loan repayments BBC News

Cable and Willetts attack vice-chancellors' pay as universities budget is cut Daily Telegraph

Student visa system fraud exposed in BBC investigation BBC News

Critical teaching comments removed from Ofsted reports BBC News

Gove widens Ofsted purge Sunday Times