FE news at a glance

Skills minister urged to gain clarity on funding

The 157 Group of colleges is calling on new skills minister Nick Boles to seek clarity about future funding for the further education sector. In an open letter published on the TES website, the group's executive director Lynne Sedgmore urges Mr Boles to ask the Treasury for "clarity and stability". "Not just for the next year, but for three or five years hence," she writes. "We already have a skills system which delivers good results; a longer-term commitment to its success could make it truly world-class for many years to come." Dr Sedgmore also asks the minister to "revisit and review" the basic principles on which current policy reforms are based, specifically aspiration, success and fairness for all.

`I'll fight for your rights,' says president of the AoC

The new president of the Association of Colleges has pledged to fight for the freedoms of FE colleges to be upheld. Richard Atkins (pictured), principal of Exeter College, started his year-long term at the AoC at the start of this month. On his blog, Mr Atkins writes that he wants to be an ambassador and a strong advocate for the college sector in the run-up to next year's general election, and has four priorities to focus on, one of which is college autonomy. Mr Atkins adds that he wishes to improve teaching and learning, promote the success of the sector and fight for fairer funding.

Welsh lecturers face new registration fees

College lecturers in Wales could have to pay up to pound;49 a year to be registered with the Education Workforce Council, the successor to the General Teaching Council for Wales. The EWC, which is due to be established in June next year as the professional body for teachers and support workers in schools and FE, needs to raise an estimated pound;3.5 million to finance its core functions. The Welsh government is consulting on a number of fee models, but its preferred option is a registration fee of pound;49, with a subsidy of pound;4 for teachers and pound;34 for support workers. The consultation runs until 7 November.

Brighter outlook for beleaguered Kent campuses

Two colleges have taken over the five campuses of the troubled K College in Kent and have promised a brighter future for students. This month, K College's campuses in Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Ashford were officially handed over to Hadlow College, while East Kent College took control of the Folkestone and Dover sites. K College was formed in April 2010 by merging West Kent and South Kent Colleges, but the move failed and left the institution more than pound;16 million in the red. Hadlow and East Kent have promised to improve teaching and learning and to invest in facilities and courses.

Dragon brings startup school to Sheffield College

Celebrity entrepreneur Doug Richards, a former dragon on BBC programme Dragons' Den, is launching a course in Sheffield to help aspiring entrepreneurs turn their creative talents into businesses. The School for Creative Startups opens at the Sheffield College in October. It is the first time an FE college has run the nine-month, part-time course, and the first time it has been available in the North of England. It will equip creative people with the business know-how to turn their hobbies, freelance work and talents into viable startups. Eighty-eight per cent of the startups created on the course in the past three years are still active and trading.

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