News at a glance

10th July 2015 at 01:00

Survey shows how FE principals spend their time

Principals spend more time on ensuring their college's financial viability than any other activity, new research has revealed. According to a survey by researchers at the universities of Warwick and Nottingham, college principals reported "ensuring a college's viability" as the leadership activity they devoted time to most frequently and the one they viewed as most important. Author Dr Justine Mercer from the University of Warwick told TES that 94 per cent of FE principals questioned said they engaged in activities to safeguard their college's financial viability "very frequently". All the principals surveyed said that ensuring viability was "very important" - more than for any other leadership activity. The two other activities that took up almost as much of principals' time were "using data to make decisions" and "reporting to the governing body". Peter Pendle, deputy general secretary of the ATL teaching union and chief executive of its management division AMiE, said: "Our experience is that more and more principals and senior post-holders in colleges are spending more and more of their time focused on the financial issue of running their college, almost to the detriment of the curriculum. They are doing that because they are forced to because of the financial situation. That is what the survival of a college is based on."

Skills Commission gives `six messages' to MPs

A group of education and skills experts has set out six "key messages" for politicians about the reform of the skills system. The messages, which they hope will provide a better understanding for policymaking, are detailed in the Skills Commission's new Guide to the Skills System (bit.lyGuideSkillsSystem). The commission says it wants to put FE "centre stage" during this Parliament, claiming that the sector has not had the prominence it deserves. The organisation also wants politicians to ensure stability in the system, adopt greater systems thinking, improve the policy process, enhance quality and confidence, boost employer engagement and ensure fair and sustainable funding.

New website offers guide to what employers want

A new website has been launched to offer practical advice to young people getting ready for work, including tips on how to complete application forms and prepare for job interviews. The website, What Employers Want (, has been developed by adult education body Niace with the help of about 40 employers including Barclays and Topps Tiles. It features advice from employers as well as insights into what they think of young people, what they are looking for and how important they consider qualifications and experience to be. Niace chief executive David Hughes said: "This website should encourage learning organisations to work more directly with employers so that they can meet more young people who are `job ready'."

Bursary winners unveil research projects

Teachers and trainers from across the FE sector showcased research projects they had been funded to undertake at a special conference this week. The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) gave bursaries of pound;1,000 to help practitioners carry out research into improving practice for the benefit of the sector. The projects were showcased at the annual research conference in London on Tuesday. Sheila Kearney, head of research for the ETF, said: "The ETF's aspiration is that evidence-based practice and innovation will be recognised as fundamental to the professional identity of those who work in the education and training sector."

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