News at a glance

23rd November 2012 at 00:00

A new online home for FE

TES has launched an online service for FE teachers that brings together news, analysis, jobs and classroom resources. It will also include a breaking news blog from the FE Focus editorial team. The service can be accessed at and via our main website,

Vocational qualifications dropped from league tables

Just 400 of the 4,000 vocational qualifications available to 14- to 16-year-olds will count towards league tables from next September, the Department for Education has confirmed. The revised list published this week follows Professor Alison Wolf's report on vocational education, which called for less rigorous GCSE equivalents to be phased out.

Chartered status would 'boost FE's reputation'

Proposals to create a chartered status for FE institutions have been warmly welcomed by the sector. The move would mean a "Kitemark" of excellence being awarded to top-performing colleges. David Hughes, chief executive of adult learning body the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace), said: "Anything that enhances the profile, trust and reputation of colleges and training providers is welcome. We would hope that if a college has chartered status then it would give learners assurance about the quality of the learning experience that they can expect." The Institute for Learning's chief executive Toni Fazaeli said the move would enhance "the reputation and status of the sector".

Functional skills funding to double, says minister ...

Funding for functional skills is to double to support the efforts of colleges and apprenticeship providers to improve English and maths skills. FE minister Matthew Hancock made the announcement at the Association of Colleges (AoC) conference, saying that the government could not wait for its reforms in schools to take effect. "That great revolution will take a generation, but we don't have a generation," he said. "And it often falls to you (colleges) to pick up the pieces. English and maths are the foundation of learning and we must succeed."

... as he announces 'traineeships' for students

Mr Hancock also announced at the AoC conference that new "traineeships" are to be introduced for students who are not yet ready for an apprenticeship. Mr Hancock said the traineeships would combine a "rigorous core" of work preparation and experience, English and maths, with a large degree of flexibility over the rest of the course. "As we raise the standard of apprenticeships, that will leave a gap," Mr Hancock said. He added that the benefits system needed reform so that it did not penalise unemployed young people who chose to study full-time. "How can we justify a system in which we pay people so long as they don't train, rather than support people as long as they do?"

Over-50s shun colleges in favour of online learning

A survey by adult learning body Niace of more than 4,600 people aged over 50 has found a significant drop in the number studying in colleges, from 21 per cent in 2005 to 8 per cent in 2012. However, the number of over-50s learning online has increased over the same period, from a negligible figure seven years ago to one in eight today. Report author Stephen McNair said: "Government policy has led, directly and indirectly, to a major withdrawal by FE and HE institutions from provision for older people. While much of the gap seems to be taken up by private and voluntary activity, it is not clear that the same needs are being met, or that this is necessarily the most effective way of achieving broader social policy goals."

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