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Ofsted scraps graded lesson observations in FE

Graded lesson observations will be scrapped from Ofsted inspections from September, the watchdog has confirmed. Ofsted ended the practice in school inspections last year, but retained them in the FE sector pending the results of pilots of ungraded observations. A spokesman for the inspectorate said: "In response to our findings, we have taken the decision to no longer grade the quality of teaching in individual learning sessions. This change will be reflected in Ofsted's new handbook for the inspection of FE and skills, which we will publish before the end of the summer term." The news was welcomed by the University and College Union. "UCU has long argued that graded lesson observation is a box-ticking exercise that piles the pressure on staff but ultimately is of no discernible benefit," said Sally Hunt, the union's general secretary.

School apprenticeship campaign takes off

More than 300 schools in England have signed up to a countrywide apprenticeships programme in the space of a month. The National School Apprenticeships campaign One by 2020 is calling for every primary and secondary school to have at least one apprentice by the end of the decade. A range of roles are available, from teaching assistants to business administration and facilities management. The NSA has urged schools to register their interest before the end of June so that they can advertise apprenticeship vacancies in time for school-leavers to apply in July. More than 3,000 schools joined the NSA in 2014-15. Find out more at

Welsh colleges criticised for complaints handling

FE colleges in Wales need to be more consistent in the way they deal with complaints from learners, according to Welsh inspectorate Estyn. Although complaints procedures in Welsh FE colleges are generally clear and comprehensive, there is too much inconsistency between institutions in how issues are managed, its report says (bit.lyComplaintsReport). There are also differences in the way that institutions define what constitutes a complaint and the extent to which they provide information to learners about how to raise their concerns.

You can't get better than a Kwik Fit trainee

An apprenticeship scheme operated by Kwik Fit, the UK's largest automotive repair and servicing company, has been rated outstanding by Ofsted. The inspectorate's report finds that apprentices benefit from "high but realistic expectations and are well challenged by tutors and assessors to produce work to high levels of accuracy and quality, with a strong focus on customer needs and safe working practices". Paul Binks, head of learning and development at Kwik Fit, said: "This grading is a resounding endorsement. Apprentices are vital to our business as they develop into the future leaders of the company." Kwik Fit is seeking to recruit 100 more apprentices across the country this summer.

The college students catering for the stars

Catering students at an FE college in Scarborough will be putting their culinary skills to the test with some of the UK's biggest music stars this summer after winning a prestigious contract. Eighteen students from Yorkshire Coast College will be on hand to serve food and drinks to the likes of the Vamps, Jessie J, Boyzone, Tom Jones, McBusted and UB40 during the Scarborough Open Air Theatre's summer season. This is the third year in a row that the college has been awarded the contract. Rob Clark, the college's curriculum manager for visitor economy, said: "It's great on-the-job experience for them and will contribute to their future employability."

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