News at a glance
No-notice inspections are no more
Ofsted has scrapped plans for no-notice inspections in further education, after piloting them earlier this year. While Exeter College, the first to be inspected under the 45-minute warning system, was graded outstanding and backed inspections without notice, others feared that students in subject areas due for inspection may be off-site or on work placements when inspectors called. Instead, Ofsted will cut the notice period from three weeks to two days. Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said the focus of inspections would be learners' progression, so if they are making good progress a college can still earn a rating of good or better even if attainment is below average. Yet this week, Stafford College was rated inadequate despite student progression being judged satisfactory. "We want to work with good headteachers and principals as they strive to provide the best education for pupils and learners," Sir Michael said.
Most UTC sponsors are colleges
Ten out of the 15 new university technical colleges (UTCs) will have college sponsors, the Department for Education announced. In three of these, chosen from 27 applications, they are the lead sponsor. City College Norwich will focus on advanced engineering and energy, Harlow College will train students in environmental engineering and medical technology and Cambridge Regional College will specialise in biomedical and environmental science and technology. By September, five UTCs will be open, with another 12 in development on top of those approved this week. Schools minister Lord Hill said: "Right around the country there is a lot of enthusiasm from employers, universities, pupils and parents for high-quality rigorous technical education." But University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt warned that college recruitment could be harmed. "At a time when our colleges are facing huge budget cuts it is essential that funding is not diverted away from institutions already providing key vocational training."
SFA appoints its new interim chief
Kim Thorneywork, executive director of delivery at the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), has been appointed the new interim chief executive at the agency. She will take on the role next month on the departure of Geoff Russell. The chief executive will not be confirmed until after the SFA completes its transition to becoming an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Ms Thorneywork joined the then Learning and Skills Council in 2006. At the launch of the SFA, she became senior account director for the West Midlands before being promoted to executive director last year. "Her wealth of experience in the sector and extensive knowledge of the SFA will be a valuable asset in this role," said FE minister John Hayes.
Last week's TES incorrectly stated that training company A4e was under investigation for "historic allegations" of fraud. The ongoing investigation is, in fact, into a subcontractor that was working for A4e. The article was published following a conversation with the Skills Funding Agency, which accepts that it unintentionally provided an "erroneous impression". The agency has stressed that this "erroneous impression" about A4e was a result of the agency's "determination to be clear and open on this issue". The agency in a statement this week said: "There is a historic investigation being pursued by the police that the agency has historically supported.
"To be absolutely clear, the police investigation is not into A4e, but into an organisation that previously subcontracted with them."
TES is happy to publish this clarification.