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In the News

Unison: New labour market tsar must protect underpaid apprentices

The government’s new director of labour-market enforcement must protect apprentices from exploitation in the workplace, one of the UK’s largest trade unions has said. Unison demanded that Sir David Metcalf urgently find a solution to ongoing problems with illegal apprenticeship wages, shortly after he was appointed to the position on 5 January. The newly created post comes with responsibilities which include protecting both apprentices and lecturers paid below the minimum wage – bringing new hope for better treatment for people across the workplace. According to the most recent Apprenticeship Pay Survey in 2014, carried out by the now-defunct Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, apprentices aged 16 to 18 were hit hardest by minimum wage non-compliance. Nearly a quarter were found to be on the wrong pay levels, compared with 20 per cent of 19- to 20-year-olds, 17 per cent of those aged 21 to 24, and eight per cent of those aged 25 or older. Nearly a quarter were found to be on the wrong pay levels Overall, 14 per cent of apprentices of all ages and at all levels were paid under the minimum wage and just 26 per cent said they knew what the relevant minimum wage...

Wave three of area reviews produces four merger proposals

Just five mergers have been proposed in the latest area reviews to have completed – and with one of them already off the cards, parts of the sector are beginning to voice concerns. Five of the seven wave-three review reports were published by the Department for Education on Tuesday (January 10). However, the recommendations for the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire, Cumbria, Liverpool City Region, and North and Mid-Hampshire reviews revealed just five planned mergers involving 12 colleges. But this figure is outweighed by the 18 colleges to emerge from the process with no firm recommendations for change. What’s more, one of the proposed mergers – a link-up between Lakes College and Carlisle College – has already been scrapped. Janet Clark, the post-16 policy specialist at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, hit out at the lack of change. It’s disappointing that all that money has been spent, and all the stress that it’s caused staff, and nothing’s come of it “It’s disappointing that all that money has been spent, and all the stress that it’s caused staff, and nothing’s come of it,” she said. Ms Clark said that former FE commissioner Sir David Collins’ prediction last year that the...

Ofsted watch: Poor start to the year for FE colleges

No college inspection report to have been published by the education watchdog since the beginning of the year has resulted in a higher grade. It’s part of a general downward trend across the general FE, independent learning provider and adult and community learning sectors at the start of 2017. Ten of the 15 Ofsted reports published between January 1 and 13, based on inspections carried out late 2016, have handed out a lower rating – with only one provider going up (see table below for full details) Safeguarding concerns were central to Epping Forest College’s drop from grade three to four, while issues with English and maths were among the reasons cited for South Staffordshire College, Preston College and East Berkshire College all falling from grade two to three. Independent learning provider Expedient Training Services Ltd was handed graded fours across the board, down from its previous grade three. The Jarrow-based provider was slammed as having “no strengths” in a damning report published January 5. It was one of three ILPs to have dropped a grade, with the other two going from grade two to three. A further three adult and community learning services went down from a grade two...

Active IQ unveils Level 3 Diplomas in Personal Training for Health, Fitness and Performance

Active IQ, the UK’s leading Ofqual-recognised awarding organisation for the active leisure, learning and wellbeing sector, has launched two Level 3 Diplomas in Personal Training for Health, Fitness and Performance. Designed with FE Colleges in mind, these truly vocational programmes combine comprehensive theoretical knowledge with practical experience to prepare school leavers to work in the leisure and fitness industry or progress to degree courses. The Active IQ Level 3 Diploma and extended Diploma in Personal Training for Health, Fitness and Performance are supported by two of the industry’s leading professional bodies – the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) and ukactive. Combining college study and work experience with local employers, the qualifications ensure that students will enjoy full educational support and group teaching alongside time on the gym floor working with fitness professionals.   Two variations are available: The Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training for Health, Fitness and Performance is a smaller qualification that can be combined with other Tech Level, Applied General and/or A Level qualifications. The Active IQ Level 3 Extended Diploma in Personal Training for Health, Fitness and Performance is a full time course that includes additional modules to...