News at a glance

8th June 2012 at 01:00

Unison steps up living wage campaign

A survey by the Unison union has found that 100 colleges are paying support staff less than a living wage, defined as #163;7.20 an hour outside London and #163;8.30 an hour in the capital. Responses to Freedom of Information Act requests at 187 colleges revealed that 55 per cent had not implemented the agreement in last year's national pay recommendations to increase their minimum hourly wage to #163;7.20. Unison general secretary Dave Prentis and Labour MP David Miliband have written to colleges that have not implemented the deal to call on them to raise their minimum pay. The union intends to award a kind of Kitemark to those that have met the living wage requirements: seven colleges have announced plans to do so since the campaign began. "Everyone knows that universities and colleges are under financial pressure, but the evidence is that the introduction of the living wage cuts absenteeism and labour turnover and raises productivity," Mr Miliband said.

IfL expels college manager found guilty of murder

Stephen Dowds, a former student services manager at City of Wolverhampton College, has been expelled from the Institute for Learning following his conviction for murder. Last June, he was found guilty of assaulting and unlawfully killing Mandy Finn, his partner and a psychology lecturer at the college. She died after being stabbed 60 times with an eight-inch kitchen knife in November 2010. In February, his appeal against a 17-year jail term - on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to "temporary intoxication" - was thrown out. Mr Dowds was found to have breached the IfL's code of professional practice, for failing to display professional integrity and committing a criminal offence. He is not permitted to apply to be readmitted to the IfL for at least 20 years.

Easton and Otley merger given the go-ahead

Ministers have approved the merger of Easton College in Norwich and Otley College of agriculture and horticulture in Suffolk. At the end of July they will form a new corporation, called Easton and Otley College, with all students who have not finished their studies transferring to the new college. The merger was supported by more than 75 per cent of those who responded to the consultation earlier this year, many of whom were college staff, although some respondents suggested that the financial strength of the colleges and their performance meant a merger was unnecessary. Three other merger proposals still await approval: Lewisham and Southwark; Leek College and the University of Derby; and City College Birmingham and South Birmingham College.

Knighthood honours the sector

Sir Geoff Hall, chair of The Information Authority, collected his knighthood for services to FE and skills at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace just before the jubilee weekend. The former New College Nottingham principal now oversees the independent body that regulates data collection and standards within FE. Sir Geoff began his career as a lecturer at South Trafford College before working as an FE officer for Birmingham City Council. After running the education department at Bexley Council in London, he joined what was then known as the Further Education Funding Council. Later, he spent more than seven years at New College Nottingham. "The fact that I have received a knighthood for services to further education and skills is a real indication of the growing importance of the sector, as well as a huge honour for me," Sir Geoff said.

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