News at a glance

8th February 2013 at 00:00

Apprenticeships for under-25s with special needs

People with learning difficulties and disabilities will be entitled to apprenticeships, following amendments to the children and families bill. Ministers made the changes after protests that the new education, health and care plans for people with special educational needs, which will cover them from birth to age 25, did not allow for an apprenticeship option. Over-19s who temporarily leave education will also have a partial right to support. Campaigners welcomed the move but warned that local authorities are experiencing far more demand for support for students with high needs next year than their budgets can accommodate. Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, said: "We want to see young people with autism getting better-coordinated support from early years to 25, but there is a growing gap between the aspirations of the bill and the reality of diminishing budgets, fewer services and the increased battles for support families are facing on the ground."

Barriers 'hold back' young unemployed

Almost half of young people not in education, employment or training have aspirations to study and get into work, according to new research from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Based on more than 800 interviews, the study found that barriers to learning, systematic problems, a negative perception of the relevance of what was on offer and a lack of self-confidence were holding them back. One in 10 said they struggled to find accurate information about courses and one in six faced financial barriers to education. "More than anything else this research shows that these young people face a wide range of different barriers and we need to stop seeing them, and talking about them, as one group," said David Hughes, chief executive of Niace, the adult education body. "We should not regard them as a problem but give them the support and interventions they need to achieve their aspirations."

Strike action imminent over teachers' sacking

University and College Union (UCU) members at Halesowen College, in the West Midlands, have voted for a strike in a dispute over the sacking of union representatives. The college dismissed maths teacher and UCU branch secretary Dave Muritu and three others because it said that they were performing poorly. The union accused the college of poor management practices, which it said may have depressed results, and said that staff members were being singled out for their union activism. UCU regional official Nick Varney said strike dates would be announced later this month if there was no breakthrough in talks with the college. "We can't say we're hopeful of that happening," he said.

FE Guild may ditch medieval moniker

The group steering the development of the FE Guild have revealed that the body's eventual name could change, after it received "numerous comments" questioning whether the medieval terminology was the right choice for a modern skills sector. The consultation proposes an organisation with a small executive team, which would rely on partnerships with existing organisations such as the Association of Colleges and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, which jointly won the bid to operate the guild. According to the proposals, the guild would focus on designing workforce qualifications, professional development, research into teaching and learning, and sharing best practice in the classroom and in management. It should eventually be funded by a levy, the consultation suggests. The consultation document is available at www.feguild.info.

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