News at a glance

Upgrade colleges for a high-tech world, report says

Colleges must change the way they teach in order to fully benefit from investment in technology, according to a new report. Further Education Reimagined, by technology firms Microsoft and Intel and the Gazelle Colleges Group, says that colleges have not kept pace with the changing ways young people consume information and the growing preference for things such as video content and social networking. It recommends that colleges invest in teaching resources to support students in "self-directed learning", moving away from the traditional classroom teacher model towards one based around learning coaches. It also proposes an Amazon Marketplace-style system for FE that would give learners and employers access to up-to-date information on college performance.

Contract row staff stage walkout

Members of the University and College Union at Lambeth College in South London went on strike this week in a dispute over conditions. The union is unhappy that the college has introduced new contracts for staff starting after 1 April, which it claims will leave them with bigger workloads but less sick pay and fewer holidays. Principal Mark Silverman told TES the action was "regrettable" and the changes were necessary to bring about modernisation and reduce the college's pound;3.5 million budget deficit.

Vote backs call to abolish `pernicious' Ofsted

FE members of the University and College Union have voted to campaign for non-cooperation with Ofsted and to push for the inspectorate to be abolished. Delegates at the union's annual congress in Manchester last week claimed that the inspection system had a "detrimental" effect on education and lecturers' lives, and had lost the respect of the profession. Brian O'Sullivan, of Bournville College in Birmingham, attacked the "pernicious nature" of Ofsted and urged fellow union members to "take control". Delegates called for a ballot of members to support a boycott of Ofsted and all consultative inspections around its framework.

`Simple' apprenticeship funding system trialled

The government has outlined a "simple" new system for funding apprenticeships in England, which it is trialling with its so-called "trailblazer" employers. Ministers want to hand control over funding to employers so that they can choose the most effective training for their apprentices. For every pound;1 a business invests in training, the government will invest pound;2. It will also provide extra cash for successful completion, to support small businesses and for apprentices aged 16-18, and will pay in full for training in English and maths. A spokesman said the "simple and fair" system would involve "pages and pages" of guidance and funding rules being reduced to a simple grid on one side of A4.

College receives prestigious volunteering award

Croydon College has become the first in the UK to gain a prestigious award for volunteering. The South London college has received the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, which is given to groups that have made outstanding contributions to their communities. Last year, more than 1,500 students at Croydon College volunteered 18,000 hours of their time to help others. The college paid tribute to Di Layzelle, its head of student life, who has helped to develop its volunteering culture over 25 years by encouraging students to give back to their communities while developing their work skills.

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