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Sector News, 30 June - 04 July 2008

Neither here nor there.  Education Guardian 1 July 2008.

Employers complain of the difficulty in navigating the complex nature of skills education and the numerous quangos involved.  So important has this become that the government have instructed the UK Commission on Employability and Skills  (UKces) to have, by Christmas, a report explaining how this issue could be tackled.  Companies complain that the government is forever changing the vocational landscape and that this is not what they want.  They require a system which is permanent, not on e size fits all and which is easy to navigate.

Quality: easy to say, harder to put into practice.  Education Guardian 1 July 2008. Comment by Peter Williams, chief executive of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

Whilst the QAA believe that the quality of education and the robustness of systems in higher education are good, it does not believe that everything is fine.  Part of the QAA remit is to point out to universities possible areas where possibly minor shortcomings may turn out to become major issues.  For example, an influx of foreign students with poor English could create major problems for the university.

How our adult literacy initiative has changed people's lives. Education Guardian 1 July 2008.

The government has announced that they have helped more than 2.25 million adults with their English and maths skills, delivering its 2010 target two years early.  Helping people to improve their basic skills has a direct effect on their job prospects and the amount of money they can earn.

Funds promised to end skills shortage.  Education Guardian 1 July 2008.

The government has promised £300m to train workers for jobs in construction, hospitality and manufacturing.  “The innovation, universities and skills secretary, John Denham, has said Britain needs to train nearly two million workers in these and other sectors to remain globally competitive”.

Hard A levels merit extra points, researchers say.  THE, 3 July 2008.

After an analysis of data from nearly 1 million school pupils, academics from Durham University say that tougher A levels should be awarded moiré entry points.  the researchers concluded that physics, chemistry and biology A levels are a whole grade harder than drama sociology and media studies.

Free sector and let fees rise, argue Lords.  THE, 3 July 2008

“Universities must be freed from state control and become less reliant on public funding, peers argued in a debate in the House of Lords. Many peers, including senior university figures, argued that students' tuition fees should be raised.”

Baroness Verna, considered that “the Government’s growing stranglehold over science funding representwe nothing less than a breach of trust”, whilst Baroness Warwick stated that public fudning remains vital to the health of our universities.

Cross-sector approach to foster skills training. THE, 3 July 2008.

The view of the Council for Industry and Higher Education, is that the Government has become too focused on the role unioverstities can play in improving skills. at the expense of further education colleges. 

The council’s opinion is that the Government has failed to acknowlegde the role of other institutions such as further education colleges and private providers.

Ditching honours will boost sector's kudos, and Public concern prompts MPs to scrutinise degree grading.  THE, 3 July 2008

The Times Higher this week has a double article on the concerns being expressed over degree grading.  This follows a series of reports (in the media) on acadmic and external examination standards.

In ditching honours, the THE reports that there is too much emphasis on degree classification, risking the value of higher education being on the basis of getting a 2:1 and thus considereing a 2:2 a failure.

Opportunities knock.  THE, 3 July 2008.

 The CBI has chosen to criticise the new wave of diplomas in science, languages and humanities.  Michael Arthur, vice chancellor of the Department for Children, Schools and Families, University of Leeds does not understand why the CBI have a predilection for A levels.  Michael argues that the CBI’s decision is based on a limited understanding of the country’s educational traditions, rather than an understanding of the needs of a modern society.

Centres set to boost mechanics.  TES, 4 July 2008.

A level maths students are passing their courses without little knowledge of basic mechanics.  The applied maths subject is key to taking an engineering degree but academics are saying that many students lack the basic principles normally taught at A level.

Pupils ‘should discuss world events more’. TES, 4 July 2008.

A charity’s survey of 11 to 16 year old pupils has concluded that we are creating a generation of “globally illiterate” teenagers.  The charity (DEA) consideres that insufficient time is given to pupils to discuss world events.

Subjects key to helping pupils reach the stars. TES, 4 July 2008.

A study undertaken by Farnborough Sixth Form College in Hampshire ahs revealed that students are more likely to obtain A* A levels in English Literature and Maths than in foreign languages or history.

Let colleges judge supply and demand.  TES, FE Focus, 4 July 2008.

In an attack on centrally planned targets, City & Guilds says too much intervention from policymakers is strangling college creativity.   It says colleges should be freed from operating within targets set by the learning and Skills Council.

Month-long progress promotes training.  TES, FE Focus, 4 July 2008.

The Insitiute for Learning has completed a month long study ren to discover the needs of lecturers and college managers.