Noticing a local advert for a 16-year old to join an accountancy firm, “must have 5 O Levels including Maths and English” made me think, not only of which 16-year old thawed from 20-odd years of cryogenic suspension would want to be an accountant, but of how long some initiatives can take to catch on. Although, admirably, many of our former colonies still offer O Levels and find them as popular as ever, we have moved on – a quarter of a century already of GCSEs, whatever they are.

Noticing a local advert for a 16-year old to join an accountancy firm, “must have 5 O Levels including Maths and English” made me think, not only of which 16-year old thawed from 20-odd years of cryogenic suspension would want to be an accountant, but of how long some initiatives can take to catch on. Although, admirably, many of our former colonies still offer O Levels and find them as popular as ever, we have moved on – a quarter of a century already of GCSEs, whatever they are.

Moved on that is, apart from A Levels, the gold standard. A Levels hurriedly devised in a period of post war austerity as a means of denying access to University for the many, are still with us. The days when they were targeted at 5% of the population have long gone; there’s no need, as half a century’s expansion of HE has created, together with the introduction of student fees, a surplus of supply over demand. Marketplace techniques of awarding an implausible number of top A star plus grades, paying kids to stay on at school and even raising the school leaving age are not going to fill a vacuum made worse by 25% of undergraduates not completing their courses because they don’t ‘get’ university learning.

Now we have Diplomas to save the day. A programme flagged at QCA as ‘red risk’ the highest of their four risk categories. Ken Boston is worried that Diplomas just haven’t been communicated. He says they need to be “stripped down to the chassis” if there is to be any hope of them being understood, let alone working.

Employers, like the one penning an advert asking for 5 ‘O’ levels, will, I suspect, be slow to understand just what Diplomas deliver. Employers annoyingly speak as they find. Employers know that very little school learning apart from reading, writing and arithmetic are any use to them. Employers are genuinely astounded that those entering the world of work invariably don’t know their times tables and can’t take a message. The snag with delivering vocational Diplomas in schools is that hardly any teacher in the country has any vocational experience other than teaching. A further snag for schools is that they already have a log jam of major reforms to turn into reality besides finding a zillion work experience placements for Diploma followers e.g. a revised Key Stage 3 curriculum and new Functional Maths and English syllabuses.

The real test for Diplomas, as Michael Gove, Shadow Secretary for Children, put it “is not what the Government says they’re worth but what employers think they’re worth.”

Lawrence Miles, Chief officer, IVA

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The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

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Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

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We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

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FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

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If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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