News at a glance
Under-18s training requirement won't be enforced
Employers will not be penalised if they hire under-18s in jobs without training, education secretary Michael Gove has announced. The decision means that none of the raising the participation age legislation will be enforced, with the penalties against young people and parents having already been dropped. Mr Gove said that the employer duties could act as "a powerful disincentive" to hiring 16- and 17-year-olds at a time of high youth unemployment. But shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said that the decision would reduce the opportunities for young people to work flexibly and combine earning and education. "It is not enough to simply say you want something to happen - you have to back up these words with real action," he said.
South London colleges merge to save money
Southwark College and Lewisham College in South London have been given approval for a merger, which will take place on 1 August. The new college will be known as Lewisham College, incorporating Southwark College, and will be headed by Lewisham's principal, Maxine Room. The merger is intended to improve the colleges' cost-effectiveness. "We have a vision for a new college for South London, a college that will ensure that our learners are equipped for the future, that they have the skills and experience to fully take advantage of opportunities for work and careers, further learning and life," Ms Room said. "We are confident that by merging the two colleges we will be able to deliver on this vision quicker and more efficiently than if we remained separate."
Participation rates fall for first time in 10 years
The participation rate of 16-year-olds in full-time education has fallen for the first time in a decade, official figures reveal. In the first year since the education maintenance allowance was abolished, saving the government #163;340 million a year, the numbers staying on in education fell by 1.8 per cent. This means that the numbers of 16-year-olds who are Neet (not in education, employment or training) rose from 2.7 per cent to 2.8 per cent. "It is disastrous news that for the first time in a decade the proportion of 16-year-olds in full-time education has dropped," said Anne Marie Carrie, chief executive of children's charity Barnardo's. "The government must take urgent action to reverse this situation, which means investing more money so that students from the poorest backgrounds can actually afford to stay on in education and training."
Success incentive dropped in favour of retention
Colleges will no longer receive a financial incentive for students passing their courses, under a new system of 16 to 19 funding to be introduced in 2013-14. Success rates have been removed from the funding formula, which will also fund full-time students at a flat rate rather than paying for individual qualifications. Instead, colleges and schools will be funded according to how well they retain students, after Professor Alison Wolf advised that success rates encourage staff to put students on undemanding courses. But most respondents to the consultation supported success rates, with the Association of Colleges saying that the measure had encouraged large increases in achievement over the last 10 years and that its removal could halt progress.
See pages 22-23.