FE news at a glance

Funding decisions delayed until the new year

Further education providers will have to wait until January to find out how much money they will receive for the next academic year, according to a letter from the Education Funding Agency (EFA). Last December, the EFA announced that it was to cut funding for 18-year-olds by 17.5 per cent to save an estimated pound;150 million, although the government later said that any losses resulting from the cut would be capped at 2 per cent. In the EFA's latest letter, its director for young people Peter Mucklow writes that the reduction will still apply in 2015-16 and no further protection will be applied.

Government eager to hear from small businesses

Skills minister Nick Boles has said that he is keen for more small businesses to get involved in apprenticeship reform. The Federation of Small Businesses has previously voiced concerns that the new "trailblazers" scheme could be dominated by large firms, but Mr Boles told TES that the government was eager for other companies to take part. "Of course it is more challenging for small businesses, who may not have an HR director, but often we find the best combination is for a big employer and some small employers to work together," he said. Mr Boles was speaking at the launch of the third wave of the scheme, under which 700 employers will draw up standards for 76 new apprenticeships.

Improvement is `not rocket science', says expert

The further education commissioner has expressed surprise at how many of the basic elements of success are missing from the colleges in which he has had to intervene. In his latest letter to the sector, Dr David Collins asks why quality is "so much better" in some colleges than in others, and why some colleges flourish while others struggle in similar circumstances. The letter sets out 10 characteristics of successful colleges, which Dr Collins describes as "more common sense than rocket science". "If a college is having a problem, my advice is simple - find someone who is performing well in that area and learn from them," he writes.

157 Group outlines key principles of FE's future

Further education colleges can become hubs of workforce development and community cohesion if they are given the right support by government, a new document claims. The 157 Group of colleges has set out its vision for the sector in its Future Colleges report, which says that FE can be at the heart of the skills system. It asks future governments to commit to four key principles in education policy: stable structures, equal treatment, freedom to innovate and durable funding. Lynne Sedgmore, executive director of the 157 Group, said: "With greater autonomy principals will be able to operate as genuine social enterprises, encourage more private investment in skills and become more responsive to employers' needs."

Lambeth College pay dispute rumbles on

A bitter trade dispute at a London college looks set to continue after trade union members rejected new proposals to bring the row to an end. More than 100 members of the University and College Union at Lambeth College took part in a month of industrial action last term in a long-running row over changes to contracts for new staff starting after 1 April. Earlier this month, the college put forward two proposals to break the deadlock, but members of the UCU voted overwhelmingly to reject both and are now seeking approval to ballot for more industrial action. The college said the new proposals were fair and that it was "disappointed" with the result of the vote.

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