FE news at a glance

No pay strikes `for tactical reasons', says UCU

The University and College Union has ruled out striking over lecturers' pay "for tactical reasons". The union balloted for industrial action over the 2014-15 pay offer from the Association of Colleges (AoC), but had to call off a planned strike in October after the AoC gained a High Court injunction. At a special conference last weekend, delegates decided against taking further action and instead agreed to focus on implementing an effective strategy for the 2015-16 bargaining round, which is due to start in February. The union said it would also launch a new national approach to bargaining on important issues between its members and local colleges.

National College for wind energy and three others announced

Four National Colleges will be set up to help the UK develop world-class skills in the advanced manufacturing, digital, wind energy and creative industries. The colleges, which will cater for 10,000 students by 2020, will be launched with pound;80 million of capital funding to be matched by employers. The advanced manufacturing college will be based in Sheffield and Coventry; the digital college in London; the wind energy college on the Humber; and the creative and cultural industries college in Essex. They join three National Colleges announced earlier this year specialising in high-speed rail, nuclear energy, and onshore oil and gas.

New careers advice body gets warm FE welcome

The FE and skills sector has welcomed plans by education secretary Nicky Morgan to create a body to help schools in England deliver better careers guidance, and to strengthen links between schools and businesses. City amp; Guilds called the new careers and enterprise company a "positive step forward" and the CBI said it had the potential to make a "big difference". Richard Atkins, president of the Association of Colleges, said it would be interesting to see what difference it could make to a "broken" system, but added it was unlikely that any single "silver bullet" existed to make sure all pupils got effective careers education.

Wolf says good riddance to QCF funding rules

Professor Alison Wolf is "delighted" to see the end of strict funding rules for vocational courses. The author of the influential Wolf report on vocational education has welcomed news that qualifications watchdog Ofqual is dropping the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). Writing on the TES website, she says that the QCF cost millions, "distorted" vocational education and "rewarded low quality at the expense of excellence and innovation". Ofqual made the decision after a 12-week consultation. It said the rules were being removed so that high-quality vocational qualifications could be designed around the needs of employers rather than the prescriptive set of QCF rules.

Look North for first engineering Career College

The UK's first specialist engineering Career College for 14-19 will open in September 2015 to train the next generation of advanced engineers and computer specialists, it has been announced. The new institution at South Tyneside College will specialise in advanced manufacturing, engineering and computer science and have the backing of employers including Ford Aerospace. It will also partner with a local school to deliver academic subjects. Career Colleges are employer-led and combine academic and vocational studies within a specific industry specialism. The first three opened in September and more are applying to open in 2016 and beyond.

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