FE news at a glance

Lecturers vote for pay deal despite NUT opposition

A radical overhaul of pay for teachers in sixth-form colleges has been narrowly approved by lecturers and principals. The new system, drawn up by the Sixth Form Colleges' Association (SFCA), will link pay rises to the appraisal process. However, in a significant move away from the process used in schools, spine points on the pay scale are to be retained, and the system will be based on the "underlying principle" that "teachers are assumed to be performing at an acceptable standard unless there is evidence to suggest otherwise". The plans were supported by two of the three unions representing teachers in the sector, the NASUWT and ATL, but not the NUT. However, at the SFCA's annual general meeting in Birmingham last week, 72 per cent of colleges voted to press ahead with the reforms. The change will enable colleges to match the pay awarded to teaching staff in schools for the first time since 2010. The new system will begin to be implemented from September 2015. "This was a good decision by the sector," said SFCA chief executive David Igoe.

New report calls for united front on skills growth

Urgent action must be taken to improve skills development, in order to boost productivity, wages and social mobility, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. The new report, Growth Through People, published this week, calls for employers to work with unions and the government to ensure that the UK's workforce has the required skills. It sets out five priorities for action over the next 20 years, including a call to bridge the gap between education and work, and to measure success through outcomes other than qualifications.

UCU unveils manifesto for `positive agenda'

The University and College Union (UCU) has launched its pre-election manifesto, calling for all political parties to adopt a "positive agenda" on further and higher education. The 15-point document calls for an overhaul of careers education, along with robust minimum standards for apprenticeships and a bespoke training offer for adults aged 25 and over who need to improve their skills. The UCU is also pushing for stronger policies on zero-hours contracts and more transparency from college management. A spokesman said the value of FE needed to be recognised: "We're pleased that all parties are discussing raising the number of students and apprenticeships but there hasn't been so much about how it'll be funded."

Williams announces academy for F1 engineers

Formula One team Williams is launching a new academy for 16- to 18-year-olds to train the next generation of motorsport engineers. Williams will mentor up to 10 students a year in an extracurricular programme at the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy, which is due to launch next year. Candidates will be selected from the finalists of the annual F1 in Schools competition, an event involving millions of students worldwide. Over the next seven years, each cohort will be whittled down in number as they complete a series of vocational placements and mentoring experiences at Williams and undertake e-learning projects.

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