26th February 2016 at 00:00
Carrying a torch

Grey area reviews

While most college principals would consider putting their grandmas up on eBay to spare themselves the agony of an area review, it seems another group of providers is feeling left out.

The London area reviews have been a swamped by a barrage of interest from adult and community learning (ACL) providers. It seems that the good people of the ACL sector have been loitering outside the review meetings with their faces pressed against the windows like the Bisto kids.

While there has been little interest elsewhere in the country, no fewer than 19 ACL providers in the capital have chosen to opt in to the area review process. This came as a bit of a surprise to the Joint Area Review Delivery Unit, which has reportedly been struggling with the additional workload that has resulted (not least finding enough chairs).

So, with the help of the Greater London Authority, it has come up with another proposal: giving London’s ACL providers a special area review all of their own. Bless.

Poisoned chalice

While everyone loves getting a promotion, FErret can’t help but feel sorry for Ian Kinder. On 1 March, he will take over from Michael Davies as chief executive of the UK Commission for employment and Skills (UKCES) – just before its government funding runs out.

When your new chairman welcomes your arrival by predicting “a challenging few months” ahead, you know the writing is on the wall. And, as FErret has previously reported, the next UKCES board meeting is likely to formalise the strategy behind the commission’s eventual demise. So congratulations, Ian – but you may as well keep your coat on.

Pass the sick bucket

We’ve all heard WorldSkills described as the “skills Olympics”. While FErret struggles to get his little furry head around the idea of Seb Coe and Steve Ovett battling it out for the gold medal in IT network systems administration, it’s a catchy way of promoting the exceptional levels of technical ability demonstrated by elite contestants from across the world.

But now it seems that someone has decided to ramp up the analogy to the max. The National Apprenticeship Service last week launched its “pass the torch” promotional campaign, involving (you guessed it) an Olympic-style torch going on a glamorous tour around the South of England ahead of National Apprenticeship Week in March.

Just in case you hadn’t got the subtle message, the torch “symbolises the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next”, the Skills Funding Agency helpfully explains in a press release, published alongside a photo of David Cameron awkwardly clutching the aforementioned torch with a couple of SFA staffers.

Let’s get something straight. FErret is a massive fan of WorldSkills, apprenticeships and anything that shines a light on the fabulous work done by the FE sector. And the torch itself is a beautiful bit of work by apprentices in the Thames Valley. But does anyone really think a painfully clunky PR campaign is the way to secure 3 million apprenticeship starts?

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