Quality of post-16 Stem courses ‘undermined’ by lack of staff training time


The quality of post-16 courses in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) is being “undermined” by a lack of time for staff to develop their skills and knowledge, a new report claims.

In a consultation carried out for the Education and Training Foundation, staff from FE colleges, sixth-form colleges and learning providers told the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) that funding cuts made it difficult for them to take part in continuing professional development (CPD) to improve and update their skills.

They also reported poor awareness of Stem careers among young people, causing a fall in demand for Stem courses, and that access to high quality Stem-related CPD was limited.

The report recommends that the ETF support the recruitment and retention of Stem staff, provide Stem-related CPD and opportunities to share best practice, and support greater involvement from employers.

It follows a report earlier this year by think tank NEF: The Innovation Institute, which called for a “radical overhaul” of Stem-based FE courses to avert a “wholesale crisis” in industry.

An Example of OFSTED’s Inconsistency

Originally posted on Scenes From The Battleground:

This is something that has (as you’ll see below) already been pointed out during Michael Wilshaw’s appearance before the House of Common’s Education Committee a couple of weeks ago, but it’s worth bringing up here as an almost perfect example of how the same evidence can be interpreted in different ways by inspectors.

When Oldknow Academy was inspected in January 2013 it was found to be outstanding in every respect. One piece of evidence for this was:

The very wide range of additional activities and extra-curricular opportunities motivates the pupils and results in extremely positive attitudes towards school. For example, pupils love the academy’s farm and the opportunity to look after and interact with a range of animals from goats and rabbits to snakes and geckos. They feel they are fortunate to be in an academy which offers them opportunities such as the week-long visit for 40 pupils to participate…

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Reed, B&D College, Newham College win SFA contracts for unemployed support and Work Programme customer support

Originally posted on VCS Assist:

The Skills Funding Agency have awarded London contracts to:

  • Flexible Fund for Unemployed – Reed
  • Maths and English for Employed – Barking and Dagenham College
  • Skills Support for Work Programme Employees – Newham College

Further information on these contracts is here: http://vcsassist.org.uk/2014/02/12/sfa-launch-specs-support-for-work-programme-participants-english-maths-for-employed-flex-fund-for-unemployed-deadline-24-feb-2014/

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Dear @TESResources: Better later than never by @TeacherToolkit

Originally posted on @TeacherToolkit:

It’s taken me 4 days to break my ‘one-blog-a-week’ policy/promise over the summer. Why?

Well, today – a week too late – I saw this from TSL Education’s Chief Executive Louise Rogers, regarding changes to the TES Resources website.

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Performance of academy chains is a mixed bag | Full Fact


Headlines alone don’t often do serious research justice, but it’s a rarer sight to see two papers directly contradict each other as the Times and Independent did this morning:

Times: “Academy chains outperform state schools”

Independent: “Academy chains ‘worse for disadvantaged children’ than local authority schools”

Jobcentres are no longer fit for purpose and are letting young people down | David Lammy


It is hard to speak the truth about valued national institutions. But when they are not fit for purpose, we must speak out. Reports on Monday suggested the government is considering a radical overhaul of the Jobcentre Plus system that is so badly failing to help the unemployed find work. The news doesn’t come a day too soon. Our one-size-fit-all national system doesn’t reflect the varying and specific needs of individuals and needs serious reform.

The system in its current form is clunky, impersonal, and suited neither to today’s society. Time and time again I meet young people being let down by a framework that fails to help people find lasting employment.

For Britain to build a balanced and sustainable economy, and to avoid a genocide of wasted talent and potential, that needs to change.

Some people will feel an instinctive hesitation about scrapping an organisation that aims to support the unemployed and help them find work. The fact is that jobcentres are totally failing in their primary aim: only around one in three claimants find sustainable work within six months of claiming benefits. That is not good enough for an institution that receives many millions in state funding and serves, in theory at least, a crucial purpose. Back in November I gave a speech calling for exactly these reforms.

Qualifications counting in future performance tables – News stories – GOV.UK



Qualifications counting in future performance tables – News stories – GOV.UK

The only English and maths qualifications that will count in the 2017 secondary school performance tables will be reformed GCSEs in those subjects or qualifications reformed to meet the same standards and expectations, the Department for Education said today.

This will ensure that there is consistency in terms of exams in these subjects, including linearity (exams at the end of the 2-year course) and limited non-exam assessment.

English language, English literature and maths are the first GCSEs to be reformed. They will be taught for the first time from September 2015, with pupils sitting exams in summer 2017.

The current arrangements for recognising other academic qualifications, such as level 1/level 2 certificates (sometimes known as IGCSEs) will end with the introduction of reformed GCSEs. Level 1/level 2 certificates in English and maths will not be included in the 2017 performance tables (due to be published in January 2018).

Similarly, level 1/level 2 certificates in subjects being reformed for first teaching from September 2016 (including history, geography, languages and the sciences) will not be included in the 2018 performance tables. This follows advice from the regulator about the challenges of including academic qualifications that could potentially be quite different from GCSEs in performance tables for 2017.

These are transitional arrangements to make sure all academic qualifications recognised in performance tables are of a comparable standard. Following the first exams in the new GCSEs, exam boards will be able to propose alternative academic qualifications for inclusion in performance tables. They will need to demonstrate that their qualifications are at least as demanding as the new GCSEs and share key characteristics.

All qualifications will need to be accredited by Ofqual, the independent regulator. New alternatives to English and maths GCSE could be recognised in performance tables from 2018 (and in other subjects in subsequent years).

Alongside these changes, the Department for Education confirmed that entries to the current GCSEs in English and maths from 2016 or earlier will not count in performance tables in 2017.

Schools may still enter pupils early for these ‘legacy’ qualifications, but if they do pupils will need to either take the new GCSE in 2017 or progress to a higher level qualification, such as an AS qualification, for their achievements to count in tables.

The exclusion of ‘legacy’ GCSEs from performance tables will apply only to English and maths, reflecting the weight placed on these qualifications in the new Progress 8 measure. As other GCSEs are reformed, we will continue to count achievements in ‘legacy’ GCSEs in all other subjects. This will allow schools to continue curriculum arrangements that allow students to take exams in some subjects – for example, 1 of the 3 separate sciences – before the end of year 11, having been properly prepared to do so.

A DfE spokesman said:

We want all pupils to benefit from the reformed qualifications we are introducing. Improving the exams and curriculum is a key part of our long-term economic plan. We want there to be choice in qualifications and would welcome revised level 1/level 2 qualifications being reformed so they can count in performance tables.

Levels of Apprenticeships


Apprenticeships are increasingly recognised as the gold standard for work-based training. There are over 100,000 employers offering Apprenticeships in more than 160,000 locations; there are more than 250 different types of Apprenticeships available offering over 1,400 job roles.

There are three levels of Apprenticeship available for those aged 16 and over:

1 – Intermediate Level Apprenticeships

Apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as a Level 2 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification.
2 – Advanced Level Apprenticeships

Apprentices work towards work-based learning such as a Level 3 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledgebased qualification.
3 – Higher Apprenticeships

Apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as a Level 4 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in some cases, a knowledge-based qualification such as a Foundation Degree.

26 Tips to Help Students Become Better Learners


Here is a cool chart featuring some important tips to help your students be smart learners. You can use this chart in your class with your students as a motivator to boost their learning moral or as a checklist for assessing their learning habits. While some of these tips are straightforward such as tip 6, 9, 11, other tips are a bit generic (tip 23, 25,26). Overall, these suggested tips cover several skills students need to work on to be better learners. These skills include sensory-motor skills, communicational skills, emotional skills, inter and intrapersonal skills, and critical thinking skills. They also touch on key areas integral to effective learning including: introspection, creativity, confidence, imagination, networking, passion, sharp observation, experimentation among many others.

Here is a quick round-up of the tips featured in the graphic below:
Be accountable
Believe in yourself
Connect the dots
Deconstruct new skills
Engage with others
Focused practice
Get started
Hypothesize, test, adjust
Use your imagination
Find joy in learning
Personal knowledge management
Listen more
Make space
Build a network
Find a passion
Question assumptions
Use spaced repetition
Tinker with things
Unlearn and relearn
Be vulnerable
Be willing to fail
Exercise regularly

This chart is created by learnstreaming.com


Does It Matter What School You Went To?

Originally posted on Tall. Black. One Sugar:

Department for EducationMuch has been made about the fact that the new head of the Department of Education (DofE) Nicky Morgan, and her team, are by and large privately educated. The photo attached has evidently proved to be a huge problem for many. I am curious as to why so many see this as problematic and based on what evidence?

Firstly let me state that the quote at the top of the picture “this team represents modern Britain” was a comment David Cameron made about his cabinet reshuffle and not the DofE. Just to be clear.

So lets address some key points here.

1. Shared Experience
There is the assumption that without a shared experience of state education, people who are privately educated will not be able to understand or empathise with those in state education.

I am curious as to why this is the thinking behind it?
Yes of course there…

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The Educator as a Maker Educator eBook

Originally posted on User Generated Education:

I self-published an eBook: The Educator as a Maker Educator.  It is available through Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Educator-as-Maker-ebook/dp/B00LYLQT0Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405867667&sr=1-2



The Maker Movement and the accompanying Maker Education are inching their ways in both formal (school) and informal (after school – camp) settings.

Whether it’s a paper airplane or a robot that walks, kids have always wanted to create functional objects with their own two hands. These days, many educators are channeling that natural urge to build with help from the wider maker movement, which has spawned maker faires and dedicated make spaces” in classrooms and media centers around the country. Pam Moran, superintendent of theAlbemarle County Public Schools in Virginia, contends that American classrooms of the past regularly fueled this type of creativity, and now is the time to bring back that spirit of innovation. “I see the maker movement as being a reconnect, both inside schools, as well as…

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Skills system in London is ‘broken’ and failing to prepare people for work


London’s skills system is “broken” and needs a radical overhaul if future generations are to meet the needs of the city’s businesses, a group of MPs has been told.

London Councils, which represents all 32 London boroughs and the City of London, wants changes to the way the capital’s FE colleges and training providers are funded.

Giving evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group inquiry on small business productivity yesterday, Peter John, London Councils’ member for employment and skills, said the skills gap was getting wider.

A lack of local influence, poor labour market information and a “flawed” system of incentives for skills providers were leading to Londoners losing out on jobs and firms struggling to fill vacancies, he said.

“The skills system, as it stands, is not fit for purpose. There is a disconnect between the skills London is producing and the skills businesses, especially small businesses, need.

“Too much funding is being wasted on courses that employers do not need or want such as hair and beauty, car mechanics or health and safety.

“We need to address this urgently if we are to avoid producing a generation of Londoners unprepared for the labour market.”

Some 99 per cent of London businesses are small companies, which employ half the capital’s workforce.

Earlier this year the UK Commission for Employment and Skills found that businesses with fewer than five staff reported that one in three vacancies is hard to fill because of skill shortages and a lack of suitable candidates.

A report by London Councils published last year found that almost a quarter of vacancies in London were due to skills shortages, according to employers, with a particular lack of provision in growth areas like marketing, sales and the creative and cultural industries.

Mr John called on the government to overhaul the way colleges and training providers are funded and to devolve more powers to London boroughs so they can match provision to local needs.

He said funding should be devolved to London Enterprise Panel to manage the adult skills system at a London level. Currently this funding is agreed at national level, and although London gets £550 million a year, the employment rate still lags behind the UK average.

The All Party Parliamentary Group, chaired by Brian Binley MP, has been taking evidence since April.

Skills is one of its six areas of inquiry, including the quality of the education system and its responsiveness to employer needs.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said it was already building closer links between the world of work and the skills system by giving employers more influence over courses and qualifications.

It said this included putting employers in the driving seat in the delivery and design of high quality apprenticeships. Last year more than 77,000 Londoners were participating in an apprenticeships.

A spokeswoman said: “Employers tell us some school and college leavers’ literacy and numeracy levels are not good enough, that’s why English and maths requirements have been strengthened, specifically for 16-19 year-olds.

“The National Careers Service is helping to bring together schools and employers to help young people develop job-ready skills, and is working directly with Local Enterprise Partnerships to provide schools with expert advice on the world of work.”