FE news at a glance

12th September 2014 at 01:00

FE sector welcomes 16 new colleges

A raft of new FE institutions have opened in England at the start of the new academic year. Some 13 new University Technical Colleges opened their doors this week, bringing the total to 30. Designed to offer students aged 14-18 the chance to combine academic subjects and technical education, the new colleges have the backing of more than 60 employers including Jaguar Land Rover, the National Grid and British Airways. Meanwhile, three new career colleges opened last week. Bromley College's Career College in Hospitality, Food and Enterprise joined Oldham's Digital and Creative Career College and Hugh Baird's Hospitality and Visitor Economy Career College in offering employer-led education for 14- to 19-year-olds.

Adults urged to help themselves to maths course

A new basic maths course backed by an FE college is being launched today to help adults improve their problem-solving skills. Citizen Maths is a free, open online course, funded by the Ufi Charitable Trust and developed by Calderdale College in Yorkshire. It is aimed at adults who do not have the time or resources to take face-to-face classes. The lessons at present cover only proportion, but other topics may be introduced from 2015 if feedback is good. For more information, visit www.citizenmaths.com

`Better value' for 16-18s but no one knows why

The proportion of young people aged 16-18 in education or training has risen but more information is needed on the impact of government reforms in this area, according to a new report. The research from the National Audit Office reveals that 81 per cent of this age group was in education or government-funded training at the end of 2013, compared with 79 per cent the previous year. The proportion of young people not in education, training or employment (Neets) had also fallen to its lowest level for 20 years. At the same time, despite real-terms funding cuts and a raised participation age, the overall value for money of the pound;7 billion spent each year on 16- to 18-year-old learning increased. However, the report argues that the government needs better information to understand which of its reforms have made a difference.

Teach digital skills to all, argues Niace chief

Adults should be taught digital skills in schools as part of the drive to improve the UK's competitiveness, it has been claimed. David Hughes, chief executive of adult education body Niace, told the House of Lords' Digital Skills Committee that everyone needed the opportunity to take part in a digital society, regardless of age. He said the government should acknowledge that digital skills were the third basic skill alongside English and maths and should therefore promote family learning through schools. "School is a natural place for parents to access technology and to learn with their children," he said. "There is enormous potential for schools to offer people a start in their digital learning through family learning."

Business manifesto lobbies for world-class skills

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has called on ministers to boost adult education and skills to compete with the best in the world. In its manifesto A Business Plan for Britain, the BCC urges the next UK government to create a workforce with literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills that rank in the top 10 of the Organisation for International Cooperation and Development's international survey of adult skills by 2020. The results from last year's inaugural survey revealed that young people in England and Northern Ireland were no better skilled than their grandparents. The UK was ranked 14th in literacy and 16th in numeracy overall for 16- to 65-year-olds.

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