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Sector news, 3 - 8 August 2014

Warning against ‘one size fits all’ inspections as Ofsted considers FE and skills merger with schools and early years FE Week, 4 August 2014

Ofsted proposals to merge the FE and skills inspection regime with schools and early years have led to warnings from the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and the Association of Colleges (AoC). Ofsted is expected to put the idea out to consultation “very soon,” according to Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director for schools policy and initial teacher education, and regional director for East of England. But Ofsted has warned any change in the way inspections were carried out must take into account differences between schools and FE. Stewart Segal, AELP chief executive, said he feared that any debate on the issue would focus on schools as he insisted that any consultation should be balanced. Joy Mercer, director of policy at the AoC, said they would be very pleased to see school sixth form and college 16 to 18 education inspected in the same way, but had concerns about one inspection regime spanning all of Ofsted’s remit.

Troops to Teachers scheme failing to entice ex-soldiers into the classroom Guardian, 5 August 2014

The Guardian has reported on a scheme which was supposed to address teacher shortages and instil a military ethos in schools, but take up has been very small and is dominated by non-graduates. The Troops to Teachers scheme aimed to recruit personnel leaving the armed services, and possibly being redeployed as part of budget cuts. Last year there were places for 1,000 service leaders to become teachers by 2015, but there were just 41 recruits for the first intake in January, all non-graduates. The second cohort of 61 start training next month. The DfE said there was not a problem with recruitment, and they expected the scheme to go from strength to strength.

Two general FE colleges among backers in new round of UTCs announced by Chancellor George Osborne TES, 6 August 2014

A new round of University Technical Colleges (UTCs), involving two general FE colleges, has been announced by Chancellor George Osborne. Bromley College and Sheffield College were among those to win approval for seven new UTCs to add to the 17 currently operating and 33 in development. Five universities, including the WMG (formerly the Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick) Academy for Young Engineers, are behind the other new UTCs, along with employers including Bentley, Kodak and McCain Foods (GB). Mr Osborne, who also announced four new studio schools to take the total open and in development to 49, said: “The new colleges will provide the next generation of British workers with the skills they need to secure the high tech jobs of the future.” The announcement comes despite concerns that UTCs were under-subscribed, with figures showing some had been running at less than 30 per cent capacity. The 480-pupil Black Country UTC near Birmingham was 36 per cent full.

Graduates and the gender pay gap Times Higher, 7 August 2014

Women graduating from part-time degrees go on to earn £7,500 less on average than their male equivalents, according to new data on higher education leavers. The salary differential between the sexes on completion of a part-time degree has jumped up by £2,000 over the past year. In 2011-12, men had a mean salary of £31,500 six months after graduation, compared with £26,000 for women, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. But in 2012-13, men’s salaries rose by £1,000 to £32,500, while women’s salaries fell by £1,000 to £25,000. The salary difference between the sexes six months after graduation from full-time study is £2,000, at £21,500 and £19,500.

New AoC president vows to fight for college freedom and fairer funding TES, 8 August 2014

The new president of the Association of Colleges has pledged to fight for the freedoms of FE colleges to be upheld. Richard Atkins, principal of Exeter College, started his year-long term at AoC at the start of August. Writing on his blog, Mr Atkins said his main priorities would include campaigning for college autonomy and demanding more funding to stop "instability" in the FE sector. Mr Atkins said he also wanted to improve teaching and learning, to promote the success of the sector, and to fight for fairer funding.