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Sector News, 13 - 17 April 2009

‘There may be more money in the pipeline’.  Education Guardian, 14 April 2009.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) have been responsible for a number of errors of late.  Firstly there was the college re-building programme where colleges were offered money that did not exist, Train to Gain has hit difficulties and the LSC and the Government has underestimated the number of 16 year olds wanting courses next year, causing another funding shortfall.  Additionally, last autumn, the educational maintenance allowance got into difficulties leaving 100,000 students waiting several months for their money.  The new chief executive of LSC, Geoff Russell, has said that in terms of the building issue that he is well aware of the costs some colleges have faced in planning the work and that it would be difficult for the LSC not to reimburse them.  On the other issues he thinks that more money may be in the pipeline for Train to Gain and he is in discussion with ministers over the funding shortfall caused by underestimating the number of sixteen year olds wishing to obtain college and sixth form places.


Can you teach an old dog with young tricks?  Education Guardian, 14 April 2009.

Opinion on the use of phonics for older learners is divided.   Phonics is associated with primary teaching and as such many adult teachers do not believe that adults would look favourably on methods designed for infants.  Advocates of the process are hoping to get the go-ahead for a major experiment they are convinced will produce evidence for their case to use phonics with adults.


Medical students need live patients.  THE, 16 April 2009.

Sir Graham Cato, outgoing president of the General Medical Council, has said that universities need to do more to ensure medical students see patients on the ward.   In order to achieve this and resurrect the lost art of having trainee doctors ‘doing the rounds’, the links between medical schools and the NHS must be strengthened. 


A more equal relationship.  THE, 16 April 2009.

Opinion

The model inspired by the 2006 Leitch Report is based on a more equal relationship between FE and HE than has hitherto been the case.  Whilst higher education courses have been delivered in FE for a number of years, the quality assurance has remained within HE.   Using the Leitch model, “the university supports the further education college in utilising (or appointing) appropriately qualified staff to write rigorous foundation degrees underpinned by the Quality Assurance Agency's benchmarks, linked to the National Qualifications Framework and articulated in the university's  programmes”.  Tanya Ovenden Hope (who wrote this article) sees a rosy future for those teaching HE outside of HE establishments.


Is this watchdog needed?  THE, 16 April 2009.

Opinion, Alan Ashworth visiting professor, Schools of the Built Environment, University of Salford.

Alan Ashworth comments, that the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) does not, observe teaching, does not assess anything that outside examiners are paid to do and it does not assure the fairness of and justice of the research assessment exercise.  The QAA has admitted that degree classifications are dubious and that a first from one university cannot be compared with a first from another.  In addition the QAA (and in the opinion of Alan Ashwell the CNAA) focuses on intentions, not what has been delivered.  What the public (and universities) need to know is what has been achieved.


View from the basement.  THE, 16 April 2009.

This three page article by George Watson, fellow of St John’s College Cambridge, explores the idea that “the enjoyment or pursuance of a subject does not always depend on knowledge of its foundations”.


Sponsors’ snub delays diploma at Wellington.  TES, 17 April 2009.

Wellington College in Berkshire would have been the first major independent school to offer a diploma.  However, it has been forced to abandon its September start for engineering because of lack of funding.  The head of the school admits that its plea for £80,000 in funding from leading engineering companies has not produced the money.  Sponsoring a student through the course would cost £20,000 and the head said that it had eight pupils wanting to start the course.  Having written to ten companies asking them if they are interested in sponsoring a pupil, not one replied in the affirmative.


Why the A* grade will only reinforce a system based on privilege.  TES, 17 April 2009.

Comment by Trevor Fisher, a teacher a Staffordshire sixth-form college.

Trevor Fisher believes that the demands of tutors at Cambridge university for at least one A* coupled with calls for unlimited top up fees will create a world were access is limited to the rich.


Sector exceeds success targets.  TES, FE Focus, 17 April 2009.

According to official figures, 80 per cent of learners in further education achieved the qualification they started out on.  This level of success was not expected until 2010.  In addition figures produced by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills showed that 2.8 million adults improved their basic skills between 2001/02 and 2007/08, more than the set target of 2.25 million by 2010.  Despite this success story, colleges are still concerned about funding to reinforce their achievements.

See also: Comment –Hold fast to autonomy that drives success”.


Bespoke training a way out of recession.  TES, FE Focus, 17 April 2009.

The chief executive of the sector skills council Creative and Cultural Skills, has called for £300 million over two years to set up a sector skills recovery fund.  The nationally co-ordinated fund is required to prevent the stop-go skills provision that has blighted the country by helping employers during difficult times.  Included in the roles of the fund would be stimulating demand for apprenticeships and/or graduate internships, relocating redundant apprentices, establishing sectoral apprenticeship companies in collaboration with further education colleges and grants to companies to retrain employees.


Think tank to stimulate college debate.  TES, FE Focus, 17 April 2009.

The Learning and Skills Network is planning a think tank to explore issues and stimulate debate in four areas: the changing teaching and learning market; pedagogy and professionalism; leadership and management; the changing political and structural landscape for learning and skills.