22nd January 2010 at 00:00
Money for nothing amp; Running wild

Money for nothing

One thing we can all agree on these days is that there's not enough money in FE and lots of demand. Colleges were inundated with enrolments in September and Train to Gain bust its budget last year, as the recession concentrated minds on the need for skills. So it will be of some interest to know just how much has been spent drumming up yet more interest in training that is increasingly hard to satisfy.

Thanks to a Parliamentary question from the Tories, we now do: 14.8 million was spent on the "Our future, it's in our hands" campaign, which FErret previously noted bears a remarkably similarity to NHS posters about swine flu ("The power is in your hands").

On top of that, promoting the skills pledge - an empty gesture where businesses promise to train staff up to level 2 and then no one checks whether they deliver - has cost another 590,000 - or 30 for each company's signature.

All of this would be enough to educate more than 3,000 teenagers for a year, or give every lecturer 100. "Your money? It's in our hands." Another hand gesture springs to mind .

Running wild

Wigan amp; Leigh College has found itself in the unfortunate position of having its name appropriated by a criminal mastermind.

Jack Nathaniel Cotton knocked on doors in Wigan claiming to be doing an eight-mile run on behalf of the college for Cancer Research UK. Amazingly, some people were suspicious - perhaps because the 18-year-old and his accomplice hadn't bothered to work out any details about the mythical run - and called the college to check.

Thus, the would-be Moriarty was stopped in his tracks, but not before he'd convinced 34 people to hand over a total of 58, somewhat short of the sum needed to start a new life in Rio de Janeiro.

"The value they got from each victim was low," his lawyer said. "There was no evidence of any pushiness. Statements say they were two polite men asking for money." And what does that get you in this cruel world? Three- hundred hours community service.

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