News at a glance

More staff are feeling stressed, research finds

Stress levels are on the rise among FE staff, a survey by the University and College Union (UCU) has found. Eighty-four per cent of staff surveyed said they found their job stressful, compared with 80 per cent in the corresponding study two years previously. Almost three-quarters of employees blamed excessive workloads for the increase in pressure, while 65 per cent said it was caused by unreasonable demands from colleagues, students and managers. Just 37 per cent said they were not subjected to bullying in the workplace. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "It is not acceptable that over four-fifths of college staff find their jobs stressful or that just a third can say they've never been bullied at work. Colleges are getting a reputation as stressful places to work and this report reveals that the problem is getting worse."

Two colleges boosted by development fund cash

City of Bristol College and Gateshead College were the only FE institutions to win funding from the Regional Development Fund, earning #163;9.8 million between them to create new jobs and apprenticeships. The two projects are intended to develop training programmes for fitting low-carbon technologies to homes and cars, and to generate consumer demand for them. It is expected that they will create 523 jobs in the South West and 5,000 in the North East, of which 1,500 will be apprenticeships. The projects are due to run until 2014.

Outcomes for special needs students improve

Education for people with special needs in FE is improving faster than education for other post-16 students, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report. Despite falling funding, the NAO said that outcomes for 16 to 25-year-olds with special needs were improving at similar or better rates than for other students. But the auditors said parents, students and local authorities did not always have the information they needed to choose the school or college that best met their needs, and assessments of young people's needs varied in quality.

Hayes calls for co-ordinated careers advice

Skills minister John Hayes said he wants to see 250 sites where the National Careers Service, colleges and Jobcentre Plus offer co-ordinated advice on careers for young people and adults. Speaking to the annual conference of the Institute of Career Guidance, he said 139 colleges had already formed partnerships to offer careers guidance. But he defended the closure of Connexions services, arguing that in offering advice on housing and personal finance, their remit was too broad. "The transition will be tough and we are sensitive to the challenges, but where we were wasn't good enough," Mr Hayes said.

Rathbone charity to merge with NCG

Newcastle College's latest acquisition is Rathbone, the charity that offers education and training to young people at risk of long-term social and economic exclusion. Subject to the approval of the Skills Funding Agency, the merger will add Rathbone's 20,000 students a year to the 70,000 who study with Newcastle College, West Lancashire College and Intraining, which together are known as NCG and form England's third largest training provider. Rathbone had been struggling with pensions liabilities, according to its most recent annual report, which led it to post a #163;4.2 million deficit last year. It will retain its charitable status.

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