IfL: FE teachers have their own roll call - Over 2,000 teachers & trainers have registered as members of the Institute for Learning (IfL) since its new website and online registration facility went live on 1 September 2007.
In line with new regulations that came into force at the beginning of September, all FE college teachers:
* have to register as members of IfL
* undertake at least 30 hours' continuing professional development (CPD) each year and
* abide by a code of professional practice
Teachers new to the sector from September 2007 are additionally required to become licensed practitioners and achieve Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status or Associate Teacher Learning and Skills (ATLS) status. Although not mandatory for them, existing teachers are also encouraged to become licensed practitioners, as this becomes the future benchmark for the sector.
Teachers have a seven-month window in which to register, which means that existing teachers need to register by 31 March 2008.
These regulations form part of the Government's wider FE workforce reforms, which collectively support the National Improvement Strategy for FE designed to create a qualified workforce with a sustainable culture of professionalism.
CLG: But real power remains with the Chancellor who controls the means to raise funding - Hazel Blears has unveiled the first phase of guidance for new Local Area Agreements (LAAs), which are intended to ‘give local government more freedom to put greater energy, focus and funding on the issues that matter most to their communities such as tackling guns and gangs, getting people into work, improving maternity services and support for older people’.
All Local Strategic partnerships (LSPs) will now begin agreeing which priorities they want to tackle by engaging with their local communities. The targets agreed with Whitehall will be limited to a maximum of 35, in a move that the Minister claims is ‘slashing the current myriad of Government targets’.
A full list of performance indicators to select priorities from will be published later this autumn, including some that are based on a citizen's perspective and satisfaction ratings to ensure that the views of local residents are integral to the process.
Negotiation of new LAAs will take place from autumn 2007 to spring 2008 in all areas. They will last 3 years and be reviewed, or where necessary revised, annually. The annual reviews will take account of performance information and the Comprehensive Area Assessment.
To ensure that LSPs can tackle cross-cutting issues, local partners, from schools to police to hospitals, will be required to work together to deliver better services under a new duty to co-operate in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill currently going through Parliament.
BERR: Another crackdown of ‘dodgy’ loans - John Hutton the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform has announced a nationwide crackdown on loan sharks and illegal lending. New specialist teams have received funding of almost £3 million to hunt down loan sharks across England, Wales and Scotland. The new teams are part of the Government's drive to improve financial inclusion and sit alongside the £47.5m Face to Face debt advice projects.
More than 165,000 households facing debt problems, mainly in deprived inner-city areas, are exploited by loan sharks every year. Victims are not only charged astronomical interest rates but very often face violence, intimidation or blackmail if they fall behind with payments.
The loan sharks crackdown follows the success of pilot anti-loan shark teams in Birmingham & Glasgow, staffed by specialist Trading Standards officers working closely with the police. Since September 2004 these teams have identified more than 200 illegal lenders and shut down loan books worth more than £3m.
DCMS: But is the ‘explosion’ in gambling yet to come? - The Government has announced a review of the funding for gambling research, treatment & public education and reiterated its ongoing commitment to tackling problem gambling, as the Gambling Commission published a survey showing that levels of problem gambling have remained constant over the past seven years.
The study, published by the Gambling Commission, found that rates of problem gambling had remained at 0.6% of the adult population since the last survey in 1999. The Government made clear however, that the report's findings are not grounds for complacency and that it remains focused on protecting children and vulnerable people.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has asked the Gambling Commission to carry out a review of the effectiveness and level of the current voluntary arrangements for the industry's funding for gambling research, treatment and public education.
Defra: Research is never a waste - A waste and resources evidence programme - Waste and Resources Evidence Strategy 2007-2011 - to help deliver the Government's ambitious waste policies has been outlined by Defra. It summarises the key areas where research will be commissioned and evidence sought over the next few years.
The programme will inform delivery of the Government's Waste Strategy for England 2007, which set out priorities on waste prevention, minimisation, recycling, recovery and energy production.
Among the many areas to be addressed are:
* How to best measure the carbon impacts of waste prevention & management
* How the Flycapture database can help identify the drivers for flytipping and effective ways of tackling it
* Whether there is a link between waste behaviour and age, income, or other social factors
* Whether producer responsibility gives the right incentives for product design & waste prevention, re-use and recycling
* What the environmental impacts are of biodegradable and degradable packaging
* What collection methods lead to high quality recyclates and whether high collection costs are offset by environmental benefits
* What has caused recent observations of a slowing in waste growth rates and how do we continue to support this trend
Ofsted: Poor teaching highlighted by absence - Attendance rates in secondary schools have improved overall since 2002, however unauthorised absence has not shown the same levels of improvement, according to a new report published by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).
The report - Attendance in secondary schools - found that the rise in unauthorised absence can be explained in part by the different ways in which schools authorise absence. For example, some schools will mark a pupil who arrives late as absent if they don’t think the reason given is good enough while other schools would just mark them as late.
The report, based on a survey of 31 secondary schools and an analysis of inspection judgments on attendance in 2005/06, found a direct link between the quality of teaching and attendance levels. The relevance of the curriculum offered to pupils was also a contributing factor.
The report also found that legal sanctions and telephoning student’s homes on the first day of absence have all been effective deterrents. The survey found instances of improved attendance immediately after schools used sanctions.
ESRC: A timely bit of research - Hot on the heals of an Ofsted report which found a direct link between the quality of teaching and attendance levels, Britain’s biggest-ever programme of education research has found at least some of the answers to the question of how to improve teaching & learning in schools.
Principles into Practice, published by the Teaching and Learning Research Programme, is in the process of being sent out to all schools in Britain. It sets out the 10 principles for effective teaching & learning which the TLRP has drawn up on the basis of over 20 research projects looking at all levels of school education.
As well as research reports and case studies, Principles into Practice includes a DVD of classroom activities & interviews illustrating the research and a staffroom poster of the ten principles for effective teaching and learning which TLRP has developed.
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