Harvey McGavin and Ngaio Crequer report on preparation for Curriculum 2000
COLLEGES will have to go on a massive recruitment drive to cope with the changes brought in by Curriculum 2000 - but some will not be able to find staff in time, according to a TES survey.
The expanded A-level choices offered by the new curriculum will mean every college taking on the equivalent of 6.5 members of staff. This suggests that more than 2,500 lecturers and support staff will be needed across the sector - but around a fifth of colleges do not believe they will find the extra staff by September.
Teachers who want to move to a new job must give notice by the end of the month. Some colleges report that they are all chasing the same people - particularly in IT.
Out of the 149 colleges who responded to our survey, the 97 who were able to quantify the staff they would require to cope with C2K needed a total of 642 teaching, technical and other jobs.
On a separate question, 103 said they would have the time to recruit new staff, 22 said they would not, while 25 were unsure.
Daventry Tertiary College, Northamptonshire, said it was staff skills, not numbers, that was the issue. "The profile is insufficient in key skills, application of number and IT given that all students will be involved."
Colleges predict that C2K will result in an average 10 per cent more teaching activity. The number of units - the building blocks of courses that are used to calculate funding - will rise by an average of 9.67 per cent across the sector according to the 97 colleges that gave a figure. But the effects of C2K varied considerably - som colleges foresaw a 25 per cent increase in funded activity while for others the change was negligible. A handful of colleges said it would make no difference.
Just under half (65 out of 140 responding) believed that course hours would have to increase and a similar figure (69 out of 144) said they would have to buy new IT equipment for learners.
Students will work harder. St John Rigby College's, Wigan, will finish at the end of June and students will return in August. John Leggott College in Scunthorpe will also start term early but keep half-terms "as students need them".
Harrow College, in north-west London supports the changes but is disappointed by late syllabuses and guidelines from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the lackadaisical promotion campaign by the Government, and little action to win over higher education admissions staff. It was also concerned about the different funding between schools and colleges. "Colleges, especially sixth- form and tertiary, are better placed to deliver the range of C2K than most schools, particularly with sixth-form year cohorts of less than 200. This needs stating more clearly".
Of the 149 colleges that responded, 84 were general FE colleges, 41 sixth-form, 19 tertiary and five agricultural. Judith Norrington, director of curriculum and quality at the Association of Colleges, said they have wanted more breadth for years and welcomed the changes. But problems remain: timetable changes, exam costs, the need for larger classes. "And it may well be the end of long summers for students."
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Additional research by Tracey Thomas