News at a glance

College climbs from satisfactory to outstanding

Swindon College has earned an outstanding grade from Ofsted, improving on a rating of satisfactory at its last inspection. With more than 85 per cent of students on long courses successfully completing them, inspectors said that outcomes for learners are outstanding and that success rates have been "consistently high" across subjects and over recent years. They praised teachers at the college for raising students' aspirations, encouraging those who had not "dared to consider higher education" and helping them to apply to university. Students on courses in early years education have even created a storybook to inspire primary school students about their future opportunities for learning. "The key to the college's transformation lies in highly effective leadership, combined with the collective endeavour of all staff that has established a culture in which learners take absolute priority," the inspectors said.

Studio school given the go-ahead

Vision West Nottinghamshire College has been given approval to open a studio school from September 2014. The 14-19 school, to be called Vision Studio School, will focus on project-based learning, work experience and bridging the gap between education and employment. It will offer 300 students GCSEs, A levels and vocational qualifications and will specialise in engineering, transportation, health and care occupations. "Vision Studio School will offer students of all abilities a high-quality alternative to a traditional school setting, regardless of whether they are academically focused or more suited to practical learning," Asha Khemka, principal of Vision West Nottinghamshire College, said.

Higher apprentices named 'most employable'

Businesses rate students on higher apprenticeships as the most employable candidates, according to a survey commissioned by the National Apprenticeship Service. Although there are currently only a few thousand places a year on apprenticeships above level 3, businesses ranked the higher apprentices as the most employable, followed by graduates, advanced apprentices and intermediate apprentices. Those with only GCSEs or A levels were rated the least employable, with businesses preferring level 2-3 vocational qualifications. "We're finding talent from wider sources than ever before," Gaenor Bagley, head of people at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said. "There's no doubt in our mind that for talented students who are clear about their career path and want to get straight into work, higher apprenticeships offer a real opportunity that doesn't compromise on training and development." The company hired 31 higher apprentices last year and plans to recruit a further 70 in 2013.

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