General News

NAThe National Archives talks in September offer practical advice, ‘juicy’ stories from the archives and new research ideas. All events are free of charge and take place in the ‘Talks room’ on the first floor at The National Archives.
 
Highlights include:
* Scandals in the family - the misdeeds of one family, with fraud, extortion, adultery and more
* Introduction to family history - get started with researching your ancestors
* The National Archives catalogue - how to search it, and understanding the results
Press release ~ Talks ~ Podcasts ~ Events page
 
OGC: A new set of courier services launched on 1 September 2008, will provide buyers across the public sector with swift & easy access to an extensive range of collection, delivery and logistics solutions. The Logistics and Courier Services framework agreements, from OGC Buying Solutions, were developed following a detailed collaborative exercise involving government departments and agencies to ensure that a wide cross section of public sector requirements and circumstances were considered.
 
The package that has emerged includes ad hoc and scheduled collections & deliveries locally and nationally, both same day & next day, together with international services too. Among the suppliers are organisations expert in the secure movement of cash and other valuable items, together with potentially hazardous goods, such as medical or veterinary material.
Press release ~ Logistics and Courier Services framework agreements
 
QCA: Ofqual, in conjunction with their regulator partners in Wales (DCELLS) and Northern Ireland (CCEA), has recently accredited the GCSE specifications for first teaching in September 2009.  181 GCSE specifications, covering 60 subjects were accredited.
 
The qualifications have been reviewed to ensure that content supports the revised secondary curriculum and assessment continues to stimulate good teaching and learning.  The changes include:
* the introduction of controlled assessment to replace coursework
* more varied question types
 
The specifications can be seen on the relevant awarding body websites and details of all the qualifications appear on the National Database of Accredited Qualifications.  All qualifications were accredited in line with the GCSE regulatory criteria.
Press release ~ GCSE criteria - development and consultation ~ Controlled assessment regulations ~ National Database of Accredited Qualifications ~ GCSE qualification and subject criteria ~ QCA consultation on English, maths and ICT
 
QCAOfqual, the qualifications regulator for England, has announced the accreditation of new principal learning qualifications and the overarching structure for Diplomas in business, administration & finance; environmental & land-based studies; hair & beauty studies; hospitality; and manufacturing & product design.  These will be available for first teaching from September 2009
 
Ofqual has also published a report called Arrangements for awarding & setting standards in the Diploma and the Regulatory arrangements for component and Diploma awarding bodies.
Press release ~ Arrangements for awarding & setting standards in the Diploma and the Regulatory arrangements for component and Diploma awarding bodies ~ Regulatory arrangements for component and Diploma awarding bodies - Recognition criteria and operating rules - Version 2 August 2008 ~ About the Diploma ~ National Database of Accredited Qualifications ~ 'Diploma lines of learning criteria' ~ Progression illustrations ~ Phase 4 webpages
 
LDA:   CompeteFor - an online service developed by the London Development Agency (LDA) to tender contracts linked to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – has been rolled out across the LDA.  The 'business dating agency' allows companies to register as potential suppliers and they will in turn be notified of contracts that match their field of work as they go out to tender.
 
Originally designed to open up the London 2012 supply chain by giving small and medium sized businesses a greater chance benefit from the Games, CompeteFor will now be used to tender LDA contracts worth an estimated £170m each year.
Press release ~ CompeteFor ~ London Development Agency
 
PCS: PCS members have massively endorsed a national agreement over job security and privatisation, the union announced last week.  97.5% taking part in the ballot voted to endorse a major national agreement with the government over job security and privatisation in the civil service & related bodies, which strengthens the protection of staff from compulsory redundancy.
 
Members supported the agreement with the Cabinet Office which sets out in detail measures to ensure staff who are declared surplus, but who wish to continue to work in the civil service or associated areas, will be made an alternative job offer.
 
Whilst the union remains implacably opposed to privatisation and outsourcing, the agreement also covers national guidance on good practice for dealing with staff where their functions are outsourced or privatised.
Press release ~ PCS
 
TfL: From 5 September customers on the London Underground have been be able to see the first of one hundred brand new artworks specially commissioned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the iconic Tube logo, the Roundel.  
 
To mark the centenary of one of the world’s most recognised brands one hundred artists, including Yinka Shonibare, Bob & Roberta Smith, Cornelia Parker, Thomas Helbig, Jeremy Deller, Catherine Yass, Pae White, Roger Hiorns and Matthew Higgs, have been invited by Art on the Underground to produce an artwork inspired by the Roundel for a unique public exhibition, which will run from 8-30 October 2008 at Rochelle School in Shoreditch. 
Press release ~ Art on the Underground ~ 100 Years, 100 Artists, 100 Works of Art ~ Arts Council England ~ A Foundation’s Rochelle School venue
 
Defra: Movements of fish in and out of Earlswood Lakes, Norton Lane, Earlswood, Solihull, West Midlands have been restricted, following the confirmation of Koi Herpesvirus (KHV) Disease.  Movements of fish in and out of the adjacent waters, known as Mereside Pools have also been restricted.
 
KHV Disease affects common carp and carp varieties such as Koi.  It can result in high rates of fish mortalities, but there are no implications for human health.
Press release ~ Koi Herpesvirus (KHV) Disease: Garden Ponds and Aquaria ~ Koi Herpesvirus (KHV) Disease ~ eFish Business ~ Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) ~ Testing Service
 
ScotGov: £300,000 is to be provided (for 2008-09) to the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland to support the dedicated teams of volunteers who participate in the various mountain rescue teams across Scotland. This involves every team/organisation receiving the same minimum amount of funding and the remainder distributed based on the number of call-outs each team/organisation dealt with over the preceding 5 year period.
 
2008 is a particularly notable year in mountain rescue, as it is the 75th anniversary of the formation of the service in the British Isles.  
Press release ~ Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland ~ MR – England and Wales ~ RAF Mountain Rescue
 
PCSPCS, UNISON and the FDA have condemned plans by Ofsted to privatise early education & childcare inspections and have called for a re-think.  The privatisation plans come at the same time as a long running pay dispute in Ofsted over the imposition of a divisive new pay structure and a below inflation pay settlement.  Some members of staff have been asked to take a three-year pay freeze.
Press release ~ PCS ~ Ofsted
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