FE news at a glance

Teachers `lack confidence' in maths, study shows

More than one in six maths teachers in the FE sector do not have a good GCSE pass in the subject, while almost half "lack confidence" in teaching it, new research reveals.

A survey of more than 470 staff commissioned by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) finds that 17.1 per cent of maths teachers have only a functional or adult basic skills qualification at level 2. Among teachers of GCSE maths classes, 9 per cent have not achieved this qualification themselves and only have a functional or adult basic skills equivalent. A further 12 per cent have achieved no qualification higher than a GCSE, even though staff are typically expected to be qualified to at least one level higher than the one they are teaching. "This indicates that in some instances teachers may lack adequate qualification with respect to the level they teach," the report states.

The research adds to increasing concerns about maths attainment among learners in FE. Figures published last week reveal that just 7 per cent of post-16 students taking GCSE maths in 2012-13 received a grade C or higher. But although many maths teachers have not achieved that standard themselves, the ETF report argues that their extensive teaching experience makes up for this. "Of course, formal subject qualifications are not all that matters for teachers' ability to deliver learning effectively," it says. "The relatively high incidence of low subject qualifications among GCSE teachers could be in some cases compensated for by adequate length of work experience."

The study reveals that many teachers do have concerns about teaching the subject, with 43 per cent saying they "lack confidence in teaching all elements of GCSE mathematics". It adds that 16 per cent of teachers "lack confidence that they can deal with most questions asked by students", while one in three "try to stick to the topics where [they feel] most confident".

For more information on the study, visit www.et-foundation.co.uk

Careers guidance progress under fire

Not enough has been done to create a "genuinely relevant" careers guidance system for people of all ages, according to the National Careers Council. In a new report, the NCC says it is "disappointed" with the lack of progress the government has made in implementing seven recommendations it made last year. A "great deal" still needs to be done, the report adds, particularly on careers provision for young people, with better support also needed for parents and teachers. The report reiterates the main recommendation from last year: that an employer-led advisory board should be created to guide the work of the NCC, including representatives from business, education and career development organisations.

Neet ideas on why women get `stuck'

A charity is holding an inquiry into why so many young women become Neet (not in education, employment or training). Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that among 18- to 24-year-old women, almost one in five (418,000) are Neet. In some parts of England this rises to one in four. The Young Women's Trust believes that long periods of unemployment can have a deep impact on people's lives. It aims to find out why young women get "stuck" and what needs to change so that they can become financially independent and emotionally resilient. The charity wants to hear from young women or people working with them.

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