Labour’s high profile campaigner for further education, shadow FE and skills minister Gordon Marsden, has lost his Blackpool seat he held since 1997. Former apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton, one of 21 Tory MPs to lose the party whip when voting against a 'no deal’ Brexit, failed to regain her Guildford seat while standing as an independent. Meanwhile, the current (pre-election) education secretary Gavin Williamson, who took on the FE brief himself when appointed in July, has retained his Staffordshire South seat with a 73% share of the vote.
The National Union of Students (NUS) has vowed to hold the new Conservative government to its pre-election promises of reintroducing nursing bursaries and the two-year post-study work visa, according to NUS president Zamzam Ibrahim. She says the union also expects the Tories to follow through their pledges on improving mental health and producing a full and urgently needed response to the Augur review on post-16 education, given FE’s ‘broken’ system of funding, a desperate need for more resources and unacceptable levels of student debt caused by high HE tuition fees.
Emphasising students’ progress, ditching the traditional pass/fail mentality and growing its own pipeline of future maths and English teachers and coaches form an approach starting to bear fruit four years after GCSE resits were introduced at Leeds City College, according to principal Bill Jones. Writing in FE Week, he says English progress scores at his college have risen from -0.45 (2016) to +0.14 (2019), a move from quartile 4 to 1, with a move from quartile 4 to 2 in maths. He says good maths and English teachers are in short supply but, by getting young would-be teachers to shadow existing, experienced teachers overseen by advanced practitioners, the college is building up its own continuous, future supply of specialist teachers. By demonstrating belief in students’ potential, the college aims to boost individuals’ results each time they may have to retake maths and English until they eventually achieve the pass grade 4. Jones says GCSEs are what employers ask for - many employers and students do not recognise or value the current alternative functional skills qualification, which itself is difficult to achieve judging by the low national pass rate at levels 1 and 2.
Introduction of T-level vocational qualifications next year should be delayed beyond next September because of an extremely tight time-scale, lack of awareness among parents and students and continuing non-recognition by many leading universities still waiting to see the full T-level course specifications available in March, according to the National Education Union, the Guardian reports. The paper cites a report from the National Foundation for Educational Research stressing that students need information well before they make their GCSE choices.