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Pay rise offer rejected

Unions have rejected a 1 per cent pay rise offer from the Association of Colleges as the Skills Secretary applies pressure to keep increases to a minimum. The six unions representing the 250,000 staff in FE had claimed a 6 per cent rise.

In a letter to the Learning and Skills Council last week, John Denham said: "It is critical that the sector delivers realistic and affordable pay settlements in the light of falling inflation, the broader spending climate, and the experience of those working in other sectors of the economy."

Outstanding college

Accrington and Rossendale College in Lancashire has been rated outstanding in all aspects, with inspectors praising its above-average results, despite "significant deprivation" in its catchment area.

The college, which boasts alumni including the Manchester United defender Gary Neville and prize-winning novelist Jeanette Winterson, has success rates growing faster than the national average, Ofsted said. Inspectors also praised the "high, realisable expectations" of teachers, the engagement with minority groups and the strong and effective leadership from Stephen Carlisle, the principal, and senior managers.

Finance body fails

The Financial Services Skills Council has failed to meet the required standard for relicensing, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills announced. Its future now depends on a review in the autumn.

Four sector skills councils - covering hospitality and leisure, the media, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and science, engineering and manufacturing - were approved. All the employer-led industry skills bodies are going through a relicensing review by the National Audit Office to ensure they are performing properly.

Pounds 2m for health care

Ministers have recommended all colleges should offer a minimum level of sexual health provision for students to include screening for infections and providing condoms.

Sion Simon, the FE minister, announced a Pounds 2 million fund to support sexual health services in colleges, saying some excelled but others did not offer any support.

"We need to ensure all colleges offer at least basic services," he said. "The most important that colleges can offer are preventative. And they do society a great service when they provide a safe space where young people can talk to a health expert."

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