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Community schemes could ease Esol pressure

Ordinary people with a "good command of English" could make up for funding cuts by helping to teach English for speakers of other languages (Esol), according to a thinktank researcher. Writing on the TES website (bit.lyWybronEsol), Ian Wybron of Demos argues that significant cuts to Esol provision mean it is time to look for "innovative, community-based solutions". Over the past six years, the government has progressively cut funding for Esol, and last month it completely withdrew funding for mandatory Esol classes for jobseekers with poor English skills, saving an estimated pound;45 million. However, as TES revealed last week, FE colleges will still have a duty to provide the courses from their remaining adult skills budgets ("Colleges in shock at Esol funding wipeout", 31 July). Mr Wybron suggests Esol could be incorporated into the growing "employer-supported volunteering" agenda, where staff are sponsored by their employers to do work in their communities. Alternatively people could help their neighbours to learn English - through housing association schemes, for example - and university students could boost their skills by providing language tuition. Mr Wybron said adopting these proposals could "ease some of the pressure on a creaking system".

ETF to impose fees for face-to-face training

The Education and Training Foundation will start charging for most of its face-to-face courses, it has been announced. The ETF already charges for some courses for FE workers, but from September it will set fees for most CPD on a sliding scale. Director of strategy Tim Weiss said the move was part of the ETF's efforts to reduce dependence on government funding and develop other sources of income. Standard charges will start from pound;100 a day, with a discount for members of the Society for Education and Training, the ETF's membership body for professionals in the sector.

FE cuts are an `opportunity, not a threat'

Funding cuts to the FE sector should be seen as an opportunity, not a threat, according to the new chair of corporation at Barking and Dagenham College in East London. Rob Whiteman, formerly chief executive of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, was appointed by the college last week. He said: "It is a great college that is ambitious and wants to grow. The challenge is to do that while facing funding cuts and the best way to do this is to see it as an opportunity, not a threat. Well-run colleges with a clear strategy and good team will flourish - and that is what we have at Barking and Dagenham College."

Cameron leads Northern Powerhouse mission

Representatives from the FE sector joined businesses from the North of England on a trade mission to the Far East last week. Prime minister David Cameron and business secretary Sajid Javid took 62 northern companies to Singapore and Malaysia on the first Northern Powerhouse trade mission. They were joined by Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, who said it was a "privilege" to represent the FE sector. "As well as following up on contacts in the region with whom AoC and colleges have been working, we have also been able to form stronger links with the northern businesses, almost all of whom have relationships with their local colleges that deliver their apprenticeships and other training," he said. Representatives from awarding body NCFE and training provider Learning Curve Group also took part in the trade mission.

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