News at a glance
Provider ceases trading after funding discord
A training provider with #163;4.5 million worth of contracts with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has ceased trading after the body questioned "errors and missing data" in its funding claims. The SFA announced on Monday that Mymar Training had said that it had begun a "planned closure" because the company had not been able to secure sufficient funds. An SFA spokeswoman said that if the company was not able to provide the evidence retrospectively, the agency would try to claw back funding. Meanwhile, the National Apprenticeship Service is trying to find new apprenticeship positions and other courses for Mymar's students. Huntingdon-based Mymar Training was formed in 2006 and named the Learning and Skills Council's Train to Gain Provider of the Year for the East of England in 2008. But by 2009 Ofsted had criticised the effectiveness of provision and leadership as inadequate.
Free school launched as 'regional centre' for maths
Exeter College is establishing a new specialist maths free school for sixth formers, with boarding places designed to create a regional centre for mathematicians in the South West. Run in partnership with the University of Exeter, the school will offer 120 places, with 24 able to board in university accommodation on week days. "We are delighted to be working in partnership with our neighbouring Russell Group university to provide a regional centre for the most able young mathematicians so they can develop their knowledge and skills and study maths and related subjects at top universities in the future," said Richard Atkins, principal of Exeter College. "In today's global economy it is essential that the UK develops the potential of our most able maths students and this initiative is a much needed response to that challenge." The university will offer 13 hours of maths, physics and computer science teaching in support of the college teaching and pastoral support.
Government to promote UK education exports
FE minister Matthew Hancock announced a dedicated Whitehall team to promote UK education in India and the Middle East. Speaking on a visit during which he would officially open the Association of Colleges' offices in India and New College Nottingham's academy in New Delhi, he said: "It is essential that we realise the potential of the largely untapped resource that is our education exports. There is a fast-growing demand for high-quality education, and we are lucky to have a dynamic and entrepreneurial sector that is well placed to contribute." The 10-person unit, called Education UK, will identify and research new opportunities for UK education exports. "We are in a global race and other countries are presenting attractive and coordinated offers, so Education UK is a vital step in bringing together the UK sector to drive its international engagement, particularly on high-value opportunities," Mr Hancock added.
Schools criticised for poor advice on staying on
A report by thinktank Policy Exchange has criticised school sixth forms for retaining students against their interests and called for greater penalties in the funding system for dropouts. The report, Technical Matters, found that 31 per cent of students were dropping out of A levels in their first year because they were badly advised, prompting the authors to call for schools to lose funding if students failed to complete the entire year. They also called for all apprenticeships to be at level 3 and extended to three years in an effort to compete with the high standards of apprenticeships in countries such as Germany or Switzerland.