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In the News

EuroSkills day 2: Intricate design could bag Danielle floristry gold

Danielle Scandone came out of day two of EuroSkills Gothenburg feeling reenergised thanks to her intricate fingers that produced a smashing floristry body adornment. The Merrist Wood College 21-year-old (pictured above) has spent the last two days completing four different flower arrangements. And she feels most confident about one in particular, her body adornment that include epaulettes – a flower piece that sits on the shoulder. She told FE Week at the end of day two: “I have six tasks to do over the three days and done four so far. “I’ve done a hand-tie bouquet with a frame, a floor standing arrangement, a body adornment, and a wreath. “Tomorrow I’ve got a bridal bouquet and a table arrangement. “But my body adornment today I felt I really smashed it and enjoyed doing it and I come out feeling really reenergised from it, I knew I had done well and got what I wanted. “I made epaulettes, a piece that sits on the shoulder, and I really enjoyed it. That is my sort of bag, all the fine detail stuff involved in that.” She added that the event as whole is something she “didn’t expect” and it has been “quite...

Apprenticeships not cheap labour

When some apprentices are not even given quality training, the 10p increase to the apprentice wage is a sham, says Shakira Martin. Based on the last few months, you’d think the government was gearing up to put some of the money that’s been taken from further education back in. We’ve had the introduction of the Post-16 Skills Plan, a bill on Technical and FE, a fundamental reshuffling of colleges in England through area reviews and finally an autumn statement that claimed to be all about productivity. But the increase of 10p an hour for apprentices is a sham. The apprentice national minimum wage, at £3.50 per hour, is less than half of the government’s own proposed national ‘living wage’ of £7.50 per hour, and still lower than the real Living Wage of £8.45. How is an increase of just 10p an hour to a group of already underpaid people an attractive offer? And with the national living wage only applying to those aged 25 and over, it’s just another sure sign we have a government making policies that are not going to enable young people, but make sure they get the hardest possible start to their working career. Since apprenticeships...

Wilshaw couldn’t resist final swipe at colleges

Sir Michael Wilshaw couldn’t resist another high profile opportunity to bash colleges. It’s clear that his support team, including his FE deputy Paul Joyce, had helped produce an annual report designed to support a college sector struggling to implement an English and maths resit policy that “was not having the desired impact in practice”. The Ofsted report says: “Inspection evidence shows that, for some students, having to retake their GCSE can be demotivating” and goes on to suggest “an alternative level two qualification may be more appropriate.” But Sir Michael couldn’t help himself when questioned about the policy after his speech. He blamed colleges, who are forced by the government to deliver the GCSE to some students. Instead of questioning the policy, as per his report, he said there was “simply no excuse for a college letting down large numbers of students.” I then challenged him, pointing out “the policy is that they must have a GCSE” and asking “is your opinion that it should be the GCSE?” to which he said: “Why not?” It shows yet again that he says what he thinks, with little to no thought for the evidence his organisation gathers at inspection. I’m confident the...

Archbishop of Canterbury gets personal paparazzi

Two students have undertaken an unusual photography project, becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury’s personal paparazzi during his recent trip to Bath. Samantha King reports.  Two level three photography students at Bath College, Sebastian Roberts and Louise Wakeham, have jumped at the chance to add a high-profile name to their photography portfolios, volunteering to document a visit from the Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury during his visit to the spectacular Bath Abbey. The pair were invited to join the ranks of press photographers from high-profile magazines and newspapers in order to snap the archbishop from every angle, as he delivered a talk on a new project at the Abbey.   Accompanied by college photo technician Joseph Wooltorton, who was on hand to give tips and advice to the budding photographers, the students were let loose with their lenses. The pair soon got a flavour of the professional photography business, networking with other photographers, and learning the importance of framing a shot quickly in order to capture all the key moments. Seventeen-year-old Louise from Wiltshire, said: “Quite a few people were taking photographs, including the Times Magazine, so it gave us a chance to talk to them. We soon learned...