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In the News

Ofsted watch: FE college overcomes ‘inadequate’ period

An FE college has climbed its way out of being ‘inadequate’ while an adult and community learning provider and a private provider boosted their provision upwards to ‘good’ in this week’s Ofsted reports. City College Coventry was rated ‘requires improvement’ in a report published Wednesday (February 22) following an ‘inadequate’ grade in November 2015. While the 3,500-learner college still has areas to improve, inspectors said its current interim principal, Dr Elaine McMahon, who joined the college shortly after the previous inspection has been “successful in bringing about improvement across the college”. However, too few learners on classroom-based programmes are successful in developing “appropriate levels of skill in English and mathematics or achieve their qualifications in these subjects,” the report said. And while safeguarding at the college was deemed “effective”, inspectors noted that too few learners have a “well-developed understanding of life in modern Britain and how to keep safe from the dangers of radicalisation and extremism”. Meanwhile, Brighton-based adult and community learning provider Friends Centre rose from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ in a report published on Tuesday (February 21). Inspectors said that college leaders had “taken very successful action to raise achievement rates” with most learners now achieving their qualification...

Leaked briefing document reveals £170 million Institutes of Technology could be with ‘wholly new’ institutions

New Institutes of Technology could be based at “wholly new” institutions, not just existing FE providers, a Department for Education briefing document leaked to FE Week has revealed. In January, the release of a green paper called ‘Building Our Industrial Strategy’, confirmed that £170 million of capital funding would be spent on IoTs. At the time the DfE indicated that they would be based at existing providers. The latest document, seen by FE Week, goes into far more detail about the “next steps” for IoTs, including confirmation that they could be established as “a wholly new institution”. The DfE document, which has not been made public yet, states that the delivery model will not be “one size fits all” because of the “nationwide variance in skills needs and provision”. Instead, bidders looking to establish an IoT will be able to “adopt models best suited to their local needs”. Different delivery and governance models provided include “extending technical education provision from within an existing high-performing college”, “delivery through partnerships of FE and HE”, or “a group of employers partnering with an education provider to create an IoT”. And a further option would be to establish “a wholly new institution where there is...

Rule change could price assessors out of running apprenticeship exams

It might not be financially viable for awarding bodies to run end-point assessment exams, after it emerged that they will be forced to base their costs on deals negotiated with employers without their say-so. New rules coming into force in May will set the cost of final apprenticeship exams at a fifth of the overall training costs agreed between an employer and a training provider – moving away from previous guidelines which set the charge at no more than 20 per cent of the funding-band maximum for that standard. Assessors fear that this means they will lose money if employers drive hard bargains on deals with providers. A draft copy of the handbook for apprentice assessment organisations, seen by FE Week, makes it clear that the change is designed to drive down overall costs. It says: “The published rules confirm that the 20 per cent is of the total agreed price, not 20 per cent of the funding-band maximum. “We agreed this because if the agreed price is less than the funding-band maximum, it ensures that the assessment costs are proportionately lower as well.” Awarding organisations can only provide their services for a fair price Stephen Wright, the chief executive...

Colleges welcome new apprenticeship subcontracting rules

Colleges are using the new subcontracting rules to regain some of the ground lost to independent training providers accused of nicking their lunch, FE Week can reveal. Just a third of apprenticeship funding is currently allocated to colleges – and a significant proportion of that is actually delivered by independent training providers acting as subcontractors. The problem has become so severe that the former skills minister Nick Boles warned colleges in 2015 that they should not let ITPs “nick your lunch” over apprenticeships. But new rules coming into force in May mean that lead providers will soon need to “directly deliver” at least some of the training or assessment of each apprenticeship programme – and the government stresses that this must “not be a token amount”. The change is being seen as “an enormous opportunity to expand apprenticeship provision”, according to Andrew Martin, the deputy principal of West Nottinghamshire College, which has the largest apprenticeship allocation from the Skills Funding Agency of any college. Why on earth are you letting these guys [ITPs] nick your lunch? The college subcontracted 82.4 per cent of its apprenticeship provision in 2015/16, which earned it £3.2 million in topslicing fees from provision worth £15.5...