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Minister takes action on duration of apprenticeships

Apprenticeships for 16 to 18-year-olds should last for at least a year, FE and skills minister John Hayes announced this week. The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has also been asked to "look at whether this requirement should extend to older apprentices", in response to criticism that some short qualifications are not sufficiently rigorous. The NAS and the Skills Funding Agency will work to crack down on poor provision, the minister added. In cases where training fails to meet required quality standards, contracts will be tightened up to allow for public funding to be withdrawn.

IfL dishes out life bans to two more lecturers

Days after former prison tutor Beverley Van-de-Velde became the first FE teacher to be struck off by the Institute for Learning (IfL) after sleeping with a convicted murderer, two further lecturers have received the institute's toughest punishment. Mark Mullis, a lecturer at Wiltshire College, was sanctioned after being jailed earlier this year for having sex with a 17-year-old student. John Murray, who worked at an unnamed FE college, was also expelled by the IfL after being cautioned by the police for making "sexualised comments" to a 15-year-old boy.

Student awarded for achievement against the odds

A former Kensington and Chelsea College student who overcame several hurdles while attending school and college has been presented with a prestigious award at the House of Lords. Rebecca Ado was presented with the Helena Kennedy Foundation Award in recognition of her achievement in reaching higher education. Ms Ado coped with being a single mother, being trapped in an abusive relationship and suffering from dyslexia, and used education to turn her life around. She said: "I was in an abusive relationship for a long time. It was a terrifying situation but I found the courage to break free and change my life."

SFA hints at focus on younger recruits

The Skills Funding Agency has given its first hint that it will concentrate its efforts on recruiting younger adults to apprenticeships. It has also suggested that recruitment levels for over-25s could drop. An update on funding allocations published last week said: "We expect a greater focus on the recruitment of young people aged 19 to 24 rather than maintainance (sic) of current recruitment levels for those aged over 25." Last month, unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds hit one million for the first time.

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