General News

VSO: This summer’s 12-week recess will be a little different for 11 MPs taking part in VSO’s Project PolVol.  Rather than digging wells or building schools they will be putting their knowledge of lobbying to good use, helping to advise community organisations on how to influence government & policy making processes.

Initiated by VSO, Project PolVol not only aims to help VSO’s partner organisations in Africa and Asia by providing them with skilled volunteers, but also hopes to give the MPs first-hand experience of global issues including poverty and HIV & AIDS.  VSO’s Project PolVol involves MPs from across the political parties and MPs who volunteer will be contributing to VSO’s long-term development goals, including education, HIV & AIDS, disability and governance.
Press release ~ VSO ~ TENMET ~ Population Services and Training Centre ~ Ghana Federation of the Disabled ~ Centre for Democracy and Human Rights ~ VK Home Based Carr
 
HEFCE: An agreement setting out clear expectations for researchers, research managers, research institutions and funders of research has been launched.  The 'Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers' describes standards, expectations and responsibilities for the proper management & development of academic researchers in universities & higher education colleges across the UK.
 
The agreement updates the previous Concordat of 1996, by addressing the changes in legislation over the last decade for staff on fixed-term contracts and takes into account the introduction of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers.
 
The launch event also saw the launch of Vitae (the new body incorporating the UK GRAD and UK HERD (Higher Education Researcher Development) support groups) which aims to support the professional development of researchers and their careers.
Press release ~ 'Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers' ~ Vitae ~ European Charter for Researchers – The Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers
 
OFT: The OFT has obtained assurances from a Hong Kong based company that it will no longer market its 'fat burning' Accu-Slim Beads in the UK. It was claimed that by placing one bead behind the ear each day users could eat as much as they liked and still lose 'at least 30 pounds in the next 30 days' as the bead stimulated the acupressure points that trigger 'automatic weight loss'. 
 
The OFT has launched an interactive guide designed to help people understand how misleading slimming mailings work. It contains 'pop-up' text highlighting the tricks used to convince people that the offers are genuine.
Press release ~ OFT ~ Interactive Guide (scroll down)
 
MoJ: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has approved the introduction of a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal for prison officers. The medal will be awarded to operational prison staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on completion of 20 years of continuous commendable service.
 
This brings operational prison staff in line with other comparable organisations such as the Police, Fire Service, Ambulance Service and the Military, as well as other prison & correctional services within the Commonwealth.
Press release ~ Justice Awards ~ HM Prison Services (NOMS)
 
MoD:  A new approach to purchasing the Armed Forces' missiles took a step forward last week with the launch of an Assessment Phase with Team Complex Weapons - an partnering of industry and MoD - announced by Baroness Taylor at the Farnborough Air Show.
 
Alongside a Teaming Agreement with all of the Team Complex Weapons members, two contracts have been placed with MBDA (UK) Ltd and Thales UK to develop six Complex Weapons projects within the Assessment Phase, at a value of around £74m for the first year:
* Indirect Fire Precision Attack Loitering Munition (MBDA-led with Team Loitering Munition)
* 100Kg weapon family to meet first the Future Air to Surface Guided Weapon (heavyweight) requirement for Royal Navy helicopters (MBDA)
* Light weapon family to meet first the Future Air to Surface Guided Weapon (lightweight) requirement (Thales UK)
* 50Kg weapon family to meet the Selected Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR) requirement for fast jets and helicopters (MBDA)
* The Common Anti-Air Modular Missile family to meet first the requirement for a Future Local Area Air Defence System (FLAADS) for the T23 Frigate and the Future Surface Combatant (MBDA).
* An upgrade programme for Storm Shadow currently used on the Tornado GR4 (MBDA).
Press release ~ Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS)
 
MoD:  The Ministry of Defence has accepted an invitation from the Society for British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) to join its 'Twenty First Century Supply Chains' or 'SC21' programme.  The signing ceremony, which took place at the Farnborough International Air Show, brought the number of companies and organisations signed-up to the SC21 programme to over 370.
 
SC21 was launched at the Farnborough Air Show in 2006 and was designed to improve the performance of the UK aerospace and defence industry in an increasingly competitive world market.  It provides a framework for improving the effectiveness of supply chains and recognises that they need to be dynamic & flexible to keep pace with evolving business and customer needs.
Press release ~ Society for British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) ~ 'Twenty First Century Supply Chains' or 'SC21' programme ~ Farnborough International Air Show
 
PCS: Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public & Commercial Services union has added his name to a call for the government to withdraw its statement that 20% of England's secondary schools should ‘improve or close'. A recent announcement by Ed Balls, implied that 638 schools in the UK are failing, yet Ofsted reports show many of them are improving.  Some have been described as outstanding.
 
The Anti Academies Alliance is urging supporters to add their names to a statement which expresses concern at both the criteria for success and the suggested remedy of closing schools to reopen them as academies, even though 26 academies are included in the list.
Press release ~ Anti Academies Alliance
 
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council for England has announced nearly £10m of funding for a collaboration between higher education libraries led by Imperial College London and the British Library following a successful 18-month pilot.  The funding will enable the creation of the UK Research Reserve (UKRR).

UKRR is an agreement between higher education and the British Library whereby the British Library will store low-use journals for the HE community and make them accessible to researchers and others using state-of-the-art ordering and delivery systems.  By the end of the 5-year programme 100km of shelf space will have been released, amounting to capital savings of £29m.
Press release ~ HEFCE ~ British Library ~ Imperial College London ~ UK Research Reserve (UKRR)
 
Futureskills Scotland: Keep up-to-date with all the latest labour market research - Research Online provides free & instant access to labour market reports and analyses from across the world.  There are now almost 5,000 reports available on Research Online.
Press release ~ Research Online ~ List of recent additions ~ Futureskills Scotland
Public Sector Offer: Free licences and support for INBOX