News at a glance
College to recruit at 14 for apprenticeship route
Leeds City College has announced plans to recruit at 14 to create a pathway for pupils to become apprentices. From September, the college will offer 30 places in its 14+ Apprenticeship Academy, rising to 60 places a year in 2015. Pupils will study for five GCSEs, including English, maths and science, along with a vocational subject at level 2, such as engineering or retail. The college said the subjects on offer align with job opportunities in the region. In the first year (equivalent to Year 10), students will spend five days a week in the college; in the second year, they will spend one day a week with an employer. After two years, they can either move to an apprenticeship or remain in full-time education at college or sixth form. "The academy will deliver an apprenticeship offer linked to real employment opportunities and provide high-quality programmes for 14-year-olds," said Emma Sullivan, the college's 14-19 partnership manager.
Outstanding to inadequate in just four years
Liverpool Community College has been rated inadequate by Ofsted just four years after it earned an outstanding grade. Inspectors said that too many students were leaving the college without qualifications, and that achievement varied significantly between courses. In 2009, inspectors said pass rates were at or above the national average, although retention rates were low on many courses. Overall pass rates fell from 73.6 per cent in 2009 to 71.6 per cent in 2011. In the latest report, inspectors said attendance was low and lessons were disrupted by students arriving late, while too many lessons were "not good enough", with insufficient checks on students' learning. But Ofsted said that the new leadership under Elaine Bowker recognised the "historical underperformance" of the college and had taken measures that improved pass rates last year.
New head for council of college principals
Middlesbrough College principal Mike Hopkins (pictured) has been appointed chair of the Principals' Professional Council (PPC). The organisation, now affiliated to the Association of School and College Leaders, has represented college principals and deputies for 80 years. Mr Hopkins paid tribute to his predecessor, Newbury College principal Anne Murdoch, and said he wanted the PPC to have a greater influence on policy debates. "I want to work to increase membership," he said, adding that the council currently has more than 160 members. "Principals have a unique view of the system. I want to work with the Association of Colleges and other groups to make sure that the voice of principals will be heard." Mr Hopkins will be working with PPC general secretary Nick Lewis, former principal of Castle College Nottingham.
You're hired, Ofsted says to apprentices
Ofsted has become the latest public sector organisation to recruit its own apprentices, with five recruits scheduled to join in April. They will be trained in customer service skills while working in the inspectorate's National Business Unit in Manchester, as part of a civil service drive to recruit 500 apprentices a year. "Embarking on an apprenticeship gives young people an alternative route into a professional career, allowing them to earn while they learn," said Matthew Coffey, Ofsted's director of learning and skills. "There are some outstanding opportunities for young people to enter a high-status vocational pathway, but there need to be more of them and young people need to be made more aware of the range of vocational routes that already exist in this country." An Ofsted spokeswoman said that the decision about which provider would be selected to train the apprentices has not been finalised.