£7bn 363 colleges 4.2m learners 263,257 staff

The Glacial Age

Most people think of the coming Age of Austerity, but those cheery people in the Audit Commission prefer to prepare us for a Glacial Age.

The Audit Commission knows that “all public bodies face a difficult and testing future” , that after the election financial resources could fall sharply, and  for some the strains this imposes could be too intense.In their experience, problems with money can be a symbol of wider difficulties

So they look at what organisations can do to help themselves prepare for the Glacial Age.

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February 9, 2010 Posted by | austerity funding, SMART goals | , , | Leave a comment

It’s only EMA Emotion

Interesting to keep an eye on austerity sur le continent

Teachers in Greece are going on strike thrice in the next month as Greece’s austerity programme begins [wage freeze for public sector workers  for starters]

In almost-neighbouring Romania the austerity package includes sacking 15,000 teachers, and  Gavin Hewitt [him off the telly] points out that there are four times as many teachers per student in Greece as in Finland, so ………

Finland and Sweden are the model for much current thinking on reshaping education after the 6 May election

And there is also a great deal of eyeing up of previously sacred cows.

There is, for example, some scepticism about the value of  Educational Maintenance Allowances [shadow children’s secretary Michael Gove has called the EMA a flop],  although EMAs do have  solid research evidence of their effectiveness.

In colleges, EMAs seem to work, but  “How to Save £50bn” has an uncomfortable analysis of EMA

Chart 2.1 shows that while there has been an increase in the percentage of 16-18 year olds in education or training since the EMA was launched, from 75.7 per cent in 2004 to 79.7 per cent in 2008, this is negligible … also a decrease in 16-18 year olds in employment, from 14.7 per cent to 10.0 per cent.

… NEETs increased from 9.6  to 10.3 per  between 2004 and 2008.
These are poor results, and show that EMA is not a good use of money.

  • Abolishing EMA would save £530,000,000 a year.
  • Are the figures in Chart 2.1 valid?

and then

  • Is EMA a “front line service” or is it a back office function, and therefore saveable?
  • Any savings from scrapping EMA would be small beer when set against the £175bn deficit – but every little helps.
  • Taking a bolder line,  could the [complicated and rigorous but existing] EMA system be harnessed as a participation-led college funding system. Young people cash in their course credit, and continue to get a cash back EMA  in return for attendance and achievement ?

February 4, 2010 Posted by | austerity funding | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

£2bn wasted each year

“How £2 billion of the Further Education budget is wasted on useless activities – and how we should reform the system”  looks like something that I couldn’t pass by without comment! although it has taken a couple of weeks to digest what is being claimed.

Alison Wolf explained what and how on video here – and published the document here and – party political warning! on ConservativeHome .

In the week that most colleges in England have been told that their Adult Funding budget for next September is being  cut by 10%-20% is she talking sense?

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January 28, 2010 Posted by | austerity funding, further education, SMART goals | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Technology

There is some useful free stuff around – and I find a lot of it through Free Technology for Teachers

Yesterday it was FlickrPoet It doesn’t do much – you type some words, and FlickrPoet comes up with matching images.

I wandered lonely as a cloud …..  becomes

I wandered lonely as a cloud click to enlarge

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January 27, 2010 Posted by | info tech | , | Leave a comment

Smart cut : pay teachers more

Teaching in small classes doesn’t do anything for learners – it has no effect on their outcomes.

Small classes are boring for students, and for teachers.

Small classes are not needed, because so few people need them.

Small classes take money out of the teaching budget, and stop teachers being paid more.

So in considering how to save money in colleges, we certainly don’t need to protect small classes.

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January 22, 2010 Posted by | austerity funding, SMART goals | , , , | Leave a comment

Top 10 Local Authorities to look out for

The Learning and Skills Council  used to allocate and distribute  funding to colleges, but  from next year local authorities will take over the distribution.

They haven’t been involved with further education colleges for many years  –  which are the big players now?

The latest data from LSC on allocations to local authorities shows that

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January 21, 2010 Posted by | austerity funding, list | , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s keep it simple please

We do need to get smarter at running further education colleges, but lets keep it simple please.

I have been looking at the “Expert Advice” from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills [UKCES is the outcome from the Leitch report] on how to “build a more strategic, agile and labour-market led employment and skills system” from Autumn 2009

Much of it is about how UKCES sees that we should “simplify”  funding, qualifications etc , but some of their proposals desperately need to go through the reality wringer.
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January 18, 2010 Posted by | austerity funding, SMART goals | , , , , | Leave a comment

Spend to Save

I got off the train at Brentwood, and set off into the gloom to the very far end of the car park. It was only when I swung my bag from one hand to the other to get my car keys out, that I realised I was lugging a carrier bag of plants from the Caledonian Road  market  and not my suitcase which was where I had left it, in the overhead rack., and disappearing off to Southend-on-Sea. Where it disappeared.

I didn’t lose much of any great value. However, my toilet bag had a pair of scissors which always seemed just right the right shape for my toes, and the family pair which I will have to use now are far too fiddly. Other stuff is proving remarkably difficult to replace – my old razor isn’t made any more, so I bought a wind-up rechargeable one which is OK, but!

No doubt I will get used to the replacements, and my toe nails and sideburns will be as well-groomed as they were before, or even better, but it isn’t until things are gone that you realise their value.

This week has seen a cluster of stories about organisations having to face up to the possibility that they may have to leave suitcases of money on the government’s train as it speeds off towards Deficit-on-Sea

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January 15, 2010 Posted by | austerity funding | , , | Leave a comment

TES saves schools £1bn a year – what is it doing for FE?

Politicians have talked a lot about protecting “frontline services”, and in December, the government published “a radical programme to put the frontline first”

Putting the Frontline First: smarter government December 2009

Frontline First : http://www.hmg.gov.uk/frontlinefirst.aspx and in sidebar file Box

This plan delivers better public services for lower cost.
It outlines how the Government will improve public service outcomes while achieving the fiscal consolidation that is vital to helping the economy grow. The plan  …. save money through sharper delivery.

A paragraph on page 21 caught my eye

Opening up public data and information paves the way for innovations like the Times Educational Supplement (TES) shared lesson planner forum, which saves time and resources, potentially releasing up to £1 billion of teaching time by 2011

TES Lesson planner  http://www.tes.co.uk/resourcehub.aspx?navcode=70

This is quite a saving, and worth practicing my Level 1 key Skills Numeracy on.

  1. Assume that the TES will save us £ by the end of 2011
  2. And that the £1bn is a total saving ie £500,000,000 in each of 2010 and 2011
  3. And that a teaching hour costs £100
  4. The number of teaching hours saved would be 500,000,000/100 = 5,000,000
  5. There were 441,200 full time equivalent teachers in all state funded schools in England & Wales in Jan 2008, so say 500,000 for the UK as a whole
  6. Therefore teaching hours saved per fte teacher = 10
  7. Therefore increase in number of hours taught by teachers would be 10
  8. I am not sure how school teacher contracts are structured, or how the “saved” hours translate into money. But maybe it works like this, that the TES Lesson Planning Forum provides ready-made lesson plans quickly and easily, so one of the Teacher Development Days is not needed, and the allocated hours used for cover teaching, so saving £1bn on supply teachers during the year?

Instead of struggling into school through the snow today, no doubt head teachers are using their time productively by reading the TES most attentively, and fleshing out the bones of para 21 of Putting the Frontline First.

Fine for the schools sector – but what has the TES ever done for us?

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Sea Eagles … or Further Education

In the run up to Christmas, I decided to start a blog which would range over what is important to me about the further education system in England.

Why? is the most useless question that can be asked in just about any situation, so there is no need to even attempt to tackle the question. The nearest I will get to an answer is that “I will find out as I go along.”. I certainly have the feeling that I have wasted time in not starting one earlier, which is as good a reason as any.

Where to begin isn’t quite so problematical, since further education is a wide open system for comment –  but today has been a Bank Holiday, a bright sunny day with a light crisp covering of snow, and we went for a stroll along the sea front at Southwold.

On the road to Southwold, on the A12 at Henham, where the Latitude Festival is held in July, large signs have just appeared urging travellers to “Say NO to Sea Eagles Here”

Another thing to say NO to, adding to a long list of local nay-sayings: “No” to the Wind Turbines just up the road on Bernard Matthews’ site at Halesworth [and at Beccles]; “No” to the Tesco at Halesworth; “No” to the gravel pit at Haddiscoe …

Maybe these Sea Eagles would be a nightmare – snacking on avocets; disturbing the furtive amorous fumblings of bitterns, and playing havoc with questing voles as they pass feather-footed through the plashy fen – or maybe they would be a boon to the tourist industry as they will no doubt take to perching in the garden of the Bell at Walberswick, to take advantage of carelessly discarded scampi tails.

I really have got no strong views either way on the Sea Eagle [here or elsewhere] but I am delighted to have such a cheery, life-enhancing dilemma bubbling away around me at the start of a New Year.

In the real world I predict, and fear, that the dread verdict “Say No to FE here” will emerge from meeting after meeting in 2010 as we struggle to adapt to a lean funding regime.
Remember when there was a capital programme for college buildings?

January 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment