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Further afield

Lambeth principal to step down amid merger plans

Lambeth College principal Richard Chambers (pictured) has announced he will retire in October ahead of a possible merger with Lewisham College. Mr Chambers said: "The college is entering a new phase of development and this is the right moment to think about what is best for the future. There is a very exciting leadership challenge ahead and this will take a sustained commitment over at least a three to four-year period to deliver. So after six years as principal, I have decided it is time for me to retire." The college intends to appoint an acting principal from October while discussions continue on the merger, which is planned for 2012.

FE finds its sharing spirit in bid to slash costs

A survey of FE colleges found that more than half are considering collaborations with other institutions to cut their costs as funding falls. More than 60 per cent of the 232 colleges questioned said they were considering sharing back-office services as the FE budget is cut by a quarter. The survey, for education outsourcing company Tribal, also found that 58 per cent were planning pay freezes, while 66 per cent said they were reviewing their curriculum plan to ensure their mix of courses maximised funding. Respondents said colleges were more likely to focus on subjects such as engineering, manufacturing, public services and care, while languages, literature, philosophy and history were the lowest priority. Barry Brooks, Tribal director for education and skills strategy, said: "The pressure is on for further education providers. Historically, the FE sector does not have much `fat' to cut and so the risk is that colleges will really struggle to understand how savings can be made without affecting the quality of education provision."

More than 120 jobs at risk as Sheffield prepares for cuts

The Sheffield College has warned staff that it needs to axe the equivalent of 121 full-time jobs as it prepares for a funding cut of up to pound;4 million next year. It is offering teaching and support staff voluntary redundancy or a voluntary reduction in hours in order to make the savings, saying that English for speakers of other languages and basic skills courses were most at risk. Principal Heather MacDonald said: "The Sheffield College is committed to enhancing its efficiency so that it is in a strong position to meet the financial challenges facing many public sector organisations within the current economic climate. We are consulting with the trade unions and our staff, and looking at different measures to avoid compulsory redundancies."

Probe launched into colleges' role in communities

A joint inquiry into how colleges work within the communities they serve is calling for evidence from managers, teachers, students and community representatives ahead of its report in November. Led by adult education body Niace, the 157 Group of large colleges and the Association of Colleges, the inquiry was set up to investigate the value that colleges bring in leading adult education provision and the role they play in their communities. Niace operations director Mark Ravenhall said: "This joint inquiry will generate the evidence needed to examine just what role our colleges of the 21st century play in the community. The here and now presents huge challenges to colleges but also considerable opportunities. It is therefore crucial that any future policy direction is based on sound evidence."

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