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Sector News, 19 May - 23 May 2008

Time for skills to slim down.  Education Guardian, 20 May 2008

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) is set to simplify the sector skills councils for employers.  What it considers to be an over complex system needs rationalising.  Their first duty will be to decide which of the SSCs will survive.

Don’t restrict access to learning for all.  Education Guardian, 20 May 2008

Alan Tuckett comments upon the loss of almost 1.5 million learners.  He calls on the Government to change its policy and support courses which adults choose to do themselves.

Ask and your wish might be granted.  Education Guardian, 20 May 2008

The TUC was overjoyed to hear that the right for employees to request training would be in the next Queen’s speech. Employers will be able to say no to requests but only by stating sound business reasons.  According to the TUC, the greatest resistance to training occurs with employers in the footwear and clothing, agriculture and passenger transport industries.  Clearly the TUC hopes that this will redress the balance.   However,  the University and College Union, whilst welcoming the right of trade unions to negotiate with employers on training provision, are concerned at the demise of funding for adult led schemes.

We must focus on students as learners.  THE, 22 May 2008

Universities secretary John Denham has stated that “A world class system of higher education is one where teaching excellence is the norm”.  He further commented that evidence from a series of government led “student juries” raised issues about the quality of teaching.

Paul Ramsden (HEA chief exec.), echoes the above sentiments by commenting that whilst the National Student Survey displays an 82% satisfaction rate, there is no room for complacency.  Furthermore, he comments that a student’s top priority is top-quality teaching.

Derby on course for FE takeover. THE, 22 May 2008

The University of Derby is on course to takeover South East Derbyshire College.  This follows a growing trend for universities to merge rather than be associates.

In an age of memory sticks, very little knowledge adheres.  THE, 22 May 2008 Opinion

Bob Simpson, reader in anthropology,  Durham University, expresses the opinion that “we are creating experts in retrieval”, to the detriment of literacy.  Bob Simpson cites a recently marked essay in which the grammar, punctuation and spelling were seriously flawed.

Inspections face global criticism.  TES, 23 May 2008

The organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) states in its draft report that Ofsted inspections create additional work and can turn schools up side down.   OECD comments that negative perceptions brought about by inspection and exam league tables can lead schools into a vicious downward spiral.

Exam answers printed on question papers.  TES, 23 May 2008

Pupils who recently took the OCR GCSE music exam would have found it easier than normal as the board had printed the answers to several questions on the back of pupils answer booklets. 

What teachers can do to raise expectations.  TES, 23 May 2008

A (small) research report has concluded that negative views about working-class children are deeply ingrained in the teaching profession.  Stereotypical views concerning middle and working-class children perpetuate disadvantage and contribute to under achievement of some working class pupils.

Training offers real benefits for employers and their staff.  TES, FE Focus, 23 May 2008

Response by Christopher Banks (Chair, Learning Skills Council, London) to an article in FE Focus 16 May that “Employers duck skills costs”.  Christopher Banks states that “Train to Gain was launched less than two years ago and already more than 84,000 employers and well over 400,000 employees have benefited from the service”.  He expects that figure to raise over the next few years.

Craftwork builds self-esteem.  TES, FE Focus, 23 May 2008

A story about Momotaz Begum who admitting that she was nervous when she joined widening participation course, has nevertheless gained an IT qualification, a new craft skill and has been honoured by Niace as one of the winners in its Adult Learners’ Week.

College sports run out of staff.  TES, FE Focus, 23 May 2008

There is a severe shortage of trained sports workers.  “The number of jobs in sports related industries is growing by an estimated 3.9 percent per year”, so states Skills Active who have responsibility for assessing the training requirements in the industry.