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Sector news, November 2014

Department for Education figures show a shortage in the number of students training to become teachers, with physics and languages facing the biggest problems Telegraph, 27 November 2014

Schools have been told to prepare for a looming teacher recruitment crisis after figures showed a shortage of students being trained in key academic subjects. Head teachers’ leaders told of “major shortages” of well-qualified staff as it emerged that more than 2,000 training places had effectively been left unfilled this year, with 93 per cent of the total places filled. There was also under-recruitment in some disciplines despite the promise of tax-free scholarships of up to £25,000 to attract the brightest graduates. In design and technology, only 44 per cent of places were filled, while the recruitment rate stood at 67 per cent for physics, 79 per cent for foreign languages, 81 per cent for geography, 85 per cent for biology and 88 per cent for maths. The government said the calibre of trainees was improving, with three-quarters of candidates arriving with a good degree – at least a 2:1 – which was the highest proportion on record. But some subjects were still lagging behind the average, with only 64 per cent of maths and physics candidates gaining a good degree, even though they can claim the most attractive training bursaries.


How – in an environment in which university is, for many young people, the path to a career – can we change perspectives on vocational education Telegraph, 18 November 2014

In this article, Eleanor Doughty argues about the importance of changing perspectives on vocational education. She talked to Marion Plant, principal of North Warwickshire and Hinckley College and South Leicestershire College about how to do this, and she said it was important to break down stereotypes about apprenticeships, and that started with schools, but also parents.


Measure job outcomes as success — not just qualifications’ says UKCES FE Week, 25 November 2014

Success in the FE and skills sector should be measured by job outcomes and not just qualifications, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has recommended as part of a five-point plan to increase workforce skills. In its report, Growth Through People, the UKCES said the career ladder had become harder to climb as mid-level skilled jobs have been replaced by high-skill or low skill-jobs. Part of the solution to this, it said, was to ensure that success was “measured by a wider set of outcomes not just educational attainment” — these wider measures would include the learner going on to employment or a pay rise.


Leps Network chair warns of closure after over-worked chief executive resigns amid lack of resources FE Week, 21 November 2014

The organisation that oversees the work of Local Enterprise Partnerships (Leps) is in crisis following the resignation of its chief executive. The Lep Network chair Alex Pratt wrote to all 39 partnerships to warn the network could close without more government support, and to announce that boss Alison Porter was leaving because of over-working. In a letter circulated by Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna Mr Pratt warned that growing interest in the network in the wake of pledges to devolve responsibilities, including skills, to local areas, meant its workload can no longer be completed. The network, currently funded with a £5,000 grant from each Lep as well as funding from central government, planned to go ask Cities Minister Greg Clark for more funding and support.


Cable warns principals of bleak funding future FE Week, 24 November 2014

Money for FE “will be scarce”, no matter who wins the general election, Business Secretary Vince Cable warned. In what FE Week described as a bleak speech he told the Association of Colleges (AoC) annual conference in Birmingham that further cuts to public spending would hit FE hard.


Clegg’s 16 to 18 UCas plan ‘already here’ says UCas FE Week, 13 November 2014

The Deputy Prime Minister announced “revolutionary” plans for a UCas-style vocational database for 16 to 18-year-olds — but UCas said the service already existed. Nick Clegg told visitors to the Skills Show, at the NEC near Birmingham that the government would set up a “fully-comprehensive national database” of post-16 skills and employer led-courses and opportunities in England from September 2015. However, UCas chief executive Mary Curnock Cook has pointed out that UCas Progress, its service for post-16 choices, had been expanded and offers national coverage of vocational and academic courses in England and Wales, covering 100,000 courses through 4,550 providers.


Ofqual chief Glenys Stacey issues ‘stability’ plea over quals as Skills Minister Nick Boles considers Functional Skills rebrand FE Week, 10 November 2014

Ofqual chief Glenys Stacey has asked Skills Minister Nick Boles to keep qualifications as stable as possible as he considers relaunching Functional Skills qualifications. She suggested if a rebrand was planned perhaps employers could work with officials to test out views of the options.


Student loans 'putting off' trainee teachers TES, 9 November 2014

Graduates are being “put off” training for a career in the classroom by the cost of postgraduate loans, even though most teachers will not have to pay them back, research suggests. The Institute for Fiscal Studies research showed that the loans to pay for initial teacher training were being seen as a deterrant. However the average teacher with typical career progression will not have to pay the loan back, as they will have not repaid their undergraduate loans before they expire after 30 years. The report raises questions over the government’s decision to fund initial teacher training using student loans.