`Unspecific' qualifications under threat
The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has listed 174 occupation-related qualifications that are under threat of being dropped. The courses, all at level 2 and above, will have their public funding withdrawn in March next year unless the government is persuaded to keep them after a consultation with the FE sector. The courses do not fulfil the government's requirement to focus on a specific role or sector. But the 157 Group of colleges said it was concerned at the suggestion that only qualifications leading to a particular occupation should be funded. In January, the SFA listed 1,477 courses that would not be approved for funding in 2014-15 because they did not meet its rules.
Prospects bright at `new generation' college
The first new FE college in more than 20 years opened its doors last week. Prospects College in Basildon will provide cutting-edge technical education including the latest industry-standard apprenticeships and workforce skills training. It will serve more than 2,000 learners and will work in partnership with some of the UK's leading employers in the engineering and construction industries. Chief executive Neil Bates said: "We aspire to be world-class and nothing less will do." Prospects is the first of what has been dubbed a "new generation" of FE colleges. The government has also announced the establishment of national colleges for the advanced manufacturing, high-speed rail and nuclear energy industries.
Official guide to careers advice released
A new careers guidance document for FE and sixth-form colleges has been released by the government. Since September last year all colleges have had to provide students with independent careers advice and guidance. The document sets out what is expected of colleges and includes a number of case studies of good practice. However, the government said it was not prescribing how colleges should fill the requirement. The Association of Colleges said that the guidance reinforced the need to motivate young people with the range of options available to them. "Our members already work with employers to help provide support and advice to their students in different ways," a spokeswoman added.
Maths grants aim to multiply learning
A new scheme to raise the standard of maths among FE learners has been launched. Colleges and other FE providers can apply for grants of pound;20,000 to train maths graduates to teach the subject at GCSE level and above. The scheme will work alongside existing programmes, including the previously announced pound;10,000 "golden hello" for maths graduates teaching in FE, and will support the move for GCSEs to become the standard qualification in post-16 education from 2015. Trainees must be employed and begin their initial teacher training between 1 September 2014 and 31 July 2015.
Apply for a share of pound;1m technology fund
Post-16 education and training providers are being invited to apply to a new pound;1 million fund that aims to improve learning through technology. The Learning Futures programme (lfutures.co.uk), commissioned and funded by the Education and Training Foundation and led by the Gazelle Colleges Group, was launched last week. Staff across the education and training sector can apply for funding and mentoring from the scheme, which will develop innovative ways to use technology to support excellent teaching and learning. Funding of between pound;15,000 and pound;20,000 will be available to support approximately 10 "action research projects". Another seven will receive between pound;45,000 and pound;50,000. The funding window closes on 26 September.