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Further afield

Bracknell and Wokingham

Principal goes out on a high

The principal of Bracknell and Wokingham College has retired after seven years in the job. Howard O'Keeffe (pictured) came to the college after an extraordinary battle to turn around Salisbury College in 2003, then pound;2 million in debt. He was sacked, reinstated, and finally negotiated a departure with a board which resisted his efforts to restructure the college. Mr O'Keeffe, who had earlier successfully turned around Havant Sixth Form College, had a happier time at Bracknell and Wokingham, completing a pound;39 million campus rebuild and earning a "good" rating from Ofsted. He is succeeded by Campbell Christie, a commodore and assistant chief of staff in the Royal Navy, responsible for all its training and education.

Young people left in the dark over apprenticeships

Less than a quarter of young people are given advice or information about apprenticeships when they choose their courses after GCSEs, a survey said. A report by welfare-to-work provider Working Links found that 79 per cent believed the education system was too focused on academic qualifications. While 70 per cent were advised about college courses after GCSEs, only 24 per cent were told about apprenticeships. The survey, which also included employers, also offered some evidence that business is satisfied with the quality of education in schools and colleges, with only 9 per cent saying that poor literacy and numeracy were an obstacle to hiring young people.

A foot in the City door with Bromley College

Bromley College is offering apprenticeships with City stockbrokers by providing a bespoke recruitment service and filtering suitable applicants. It developed apprenticeships for assistants in compliance and trade support at Collins Sarri Statham Investments, an independent stockbroker, reducing the cost and time involved by handling the recruitment process and offering the firm a shortlist of applicants. Brian Statham, director of CSS Investments, said: "Our relationship with Bromley College has been fantastic and their understanding of the financial sector has proved crucial in our achieving such successful recruitments, as well as quality training. The firm is keen to give young people opportunities, particularly in a sector that would normally prove very difficult for them to get a foot in the door."

Barnfield celebrates exam success at its academies

Barnfield College has continued to improve GCSE results at the two academies it runs as part of its federation. The college said the number of students achieving five grade Cs or above, including maths and English, rose by 18 per cent. Principal Pete Birkett said: "This incredible result pays testament to the hard work of our students, parents and staff." This month the academies launch their sixth-forms, offering a range of A- levels, BTECs and other vocational qualifications, putting the schools in competition with their parent college for the first time.

FE must build relationships with employers, says report

Colleges need to invest in building long-term relationships with employers and not rely on quick sales of training courses, according to a report of industry views of FE. Commissioned by the FE reputation strategy group, the study was compiled from interviews with business leaders and skills experts. Employers said one of the best ways to engage them was to show off state-of-the-art teaching facilities to prove FE's relevance to industry. Alison Birkinshaw, principal of York College and chair of the group, said: "Understanding how FE is perceived by local businesses, what current relationships are like and what barriers need addressing are vital steps to improve reputation." The full report is available at

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