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Further afield

Financial surplus buys Middlesbrough a new sixth-form

Middlesbrough College has continued its programme of expansion by announcing plans for a #163;6.5 million sixth-form. The 300-place centre, funded by the college's reserves, will offer A-level programmes and include 13 classrooms, a student lounge, a floodlit astroturf pitch and a "high ropes" centre with zip wires. It will create 19 full-time jobs. Chairman of governors Bob Brady said: "Middlesbrough College had a financial surplus after its reorganisation three years ago and this provided us with a great opportunity to improve sixth-form provision for the town - by changing those reserves into resources."

Teachers' resource targets sexual bullying

Lewisham College and the London Region Anti-Bullying Network have teamed up to launch a teachers' resource aimed at tackling sexual bullying in schools and FE colleges. The pack includes a DVD produced by media and drama students at the college, which is designed to assist teachers in tackling gender conflict. The project is supported by the Skills Funding Agency and the Learning and Skills Improvement Service. College principal Maxine Room (pictured) said: "This isn't an issue that affects just one college: local and national research shows this to be a widespread problem that demands our co-ordinated attention and action."

FE leaders make finals of managers' competition

Two leading figures in FE have been named finalists in the Chartered Manager of the Year competition. Among those selected by the Chartered Management Institute are Graeme Pyle, principal of Beaumont College in Lancaster, and Robert Halton, a board member at the Birmingham-based College of Law. Both have already won their respective regional titles, with Mr Pyle recognised for his "outstanding leadership abilities" and Mr Halton for "successfully instigating cultural change within the college". The winner will be announced at the institute's national conference awards dinner in October.

Language course helps parents to help children

Uxbridge College in west London has established a new course to help parents who are not native English speakers become more involved in their child's education. Set up at the request of local primary heads, the course is designed to help address the lower levels of achievement among primary pupils whose first language is not English. It provides parents with language skills and information on the UK education system, with a particular focus on enabling parents to help with homework. The college's Ann McTaggart, outreach manager for English for speakers of other languages, said: "It enables parents to get more involved in school life, which in turn makes a difference to how engaged children are in their learning. Everyone wants to see children doing better and this short course provides a powerful opportunity to make this happen."

South West colleges bid to join forces

Two colleges in the South West of England have submitted a merger proposal to the Skills Funding Agency. The move by Filton College in Bristol and Gloucestershire's Stroud College (both pictured above) is currently in consultation. If it wins the go-ahead, the merger will be completed on 1 January 2012. The consultation document said: "Both colleges are currently successful independently, but we believe that a merged institution would secure a sound future whilst responding to the implications of the national environment over the next few years." The consultation ends on 20 July.

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