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Jo Johnson outlines plans for subject-level Teaching Excellence Framework and a crackdown on vice chancellor pay

Universities Minister Jo Johnson has today (20 July 2017) set out plans to provide better value for money from the higher education system for students and taxpayers.

£16 million drive to boost maths skills for post Brexit Britain - Sector Response

A £16 million investment to increase the quality of teaching in post-16 maths is part of major drive to see more students studying the subject after GCSE and ensure Britain’s future workforce can compete in the global marketplace post Brexit. Following a government-commissioned review by Professor Sir Adrian Smith about how to improve 16-18 maths education in England, the School Standards Minister has set out a series of actions to increase participation. The introduction of a more rigorous maths curriculum, new AS and A level maths qualifications and high quality “core maths” qualifications are ensuring more young people are leaving education with the skills they need to secure their first job, an apprenticeship or  go on to further study. While maths continues to be the most popular subject at A level, with 88,000 entries in 2017, up 3 per cent on last year, almost three quarters of students with an A*-C in GCSE maths at age 16 choose not to continue studying the subject. In his review, Sir Adrian makes a strong case for the value of maths skills for all students, whichever route they take. He highlights, however, a number of challenges that need to be addressed in order to drive up participation, including tackling the negative perceptions of maths, and has called on government, employers, universities, schools and colleges to take action so that more students choose to study the subject post-16.   Today’s £16 million announcement will boost the capacity of schools, colleges and universities to deliver good quality teaching for post-16 maths courses including Core, A level and further maths. Minister for Schools Standards Nick Gibb said: “A high-quality mathematics education provides young people with the knowledge and skills to secure a good job and to succeed in whatever path they choose.   “We are already making progress with a more rigorous curriculum and this summer we will see young people collecting results in our new GCSEs, which are benchmarked against the best in the world.   “There is, however, more to do to, particularly as we prepare to leave the European Union and compete globally. Sir Adrian’s review will help us focus our efforts and today’s investment is the first step on that vital journey.” As well as the investment in teaching, immediate action is already being taken in response to a number of the report’s recommendations including: Working with the Institute for Apprenticeships and the Royal Society Advisory Committee on maths education to ensure the design of the new T levels is based on expert mathematical advice Working with the Royal Society and British Academy to encourage universities and employers to better promote the value of maths qualifications   Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London said: “I was delighted to conduct this review. There are compelling arguments for raising participation in students taking mathematics after the age of 16 and to improve skills at all levels.  Increased participation could deliver significant payback for individuals, for the economy and in increased productivity. To achieve this will take effort, funding and a range of interventions from government that must be co-ordinated with other bodies.” The government has already announced plans to transform technical education in England, this includes developing new T levels, backed by £500 million of government investment announced in the budget, which will help deliver a world-class skills system which spreads opportunity for individuals and drives economic growth. In addition to the immediate actions announced today, the government will consider the report carefully and will set out further details in due course of how it intends to address the range of recommendations outlined in the review. ATL’s comment on the Government’s publication of Professor Sir Adrian Smith’s review of 16- to 18-year-olds mathematics education in England. Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary for policy at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: ​"It is good news that the Government is not going to make maths compulsory for 16- to 18-year-olds as we know that this would have put a lot of students off staying in the sixth form. However, schools and colleges will need to know exactly what maths qualifications they will be required to teach. It is also good to hear that the Government has recognised that there is a shortage of maths teachers and that this crisis needs to be addressed right now.

Investing back into the sector

“The industry is changing” … “yep, I’ve heard”

Activate Learning prepares culinary students to be part of the food revolution

ESFA weekly round-up - Issue 363

Education & Skills Funding Agency's weekly round-up of business-critical information to ESFA-funded colleges, other training organisations and direct grant employers. (19 July 2017)

Gender pay gap - BBC in the spotlight

College trail blazes new hub connecting premiership winners, Chelsea Football Club, with other businesses to provide the skills for London’s future workforce

The doors closing on Stamford Bridge marks a new start for west London’s future

Careers advice service on hand to help stressed-out students take the next step

World’s first ‘AI-based’ online learning programmes for students

VFS Global, the world’s largest visa application contractor, is entering the market for online education for the first time, to offer management and post-graduate Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) throughout the world.   VFS Global’ education arm - VFS Global Edu Support Services Pvt. Ltd. – is launching a joint venture with the UK ed-tech start-up Oxademy.   VFS Global provide ‘identity management’ services to over 50 governments around the world – processing passports and visas – working for the UK, the Russian and the US governments among others (for instance, when you travel to India from the UK you would generally go to a VFS visa-processing centre).     VFS Global will use this expertise to provide the most sophisticated ever identity checks on an online course. One of the weaknesses that has harmed the credibility of MOOCs and online education generally is the difficulty of proving to employers and academic institutions that the person who is doing the course work and exams online is the person whose name is on the certificate at the end.    VFS are addressing this by importing the kind of security techniques they have developed for verifying visa information into education.  Their courses will also include a physical final exam where students will have to attend in person with ID.  If this security issue is addressed, it will make online courses - especially in emerging economies where there fraud is huge problem - much more attractive to potential employers.     As you may know, MOOCs have been a bit of a mixed bag in terms of success; high sign-ups but high drop-out rates too, largely because of the lack of a personalised learning element, the monotony of rote learning, and students feeling isolated compared to traditional education models in which they directly contact with a teacher.   From its side, Oxademy is addressing this problem of lack of personal contract during MOOC courses by developing artificial intelligence (AI) based courses where the content adapts uniquely to the learner’s needs, and using blended learning in which students can chat online with tutors at any time. The AI system can judge, for example, if a learner is struggling with a particular exercise or spending a longer time than average to read through it.  The course content is then altered accordingly.   VFS-Oxademy will provide internationally accredited post-graduate and executive education programmes in full online and ‘blended’ modes – which combine online with classroom learning – for students and professionals from across the globe.  The aim is that students will be able to log on to these universally accessible programmes that will be affiliated with top universities in the UK and US.  VFS-Oxademy are currently in discussions with UK universities.   Courses offered initially will include Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Masters in Strategic Leadership (MSL) and Masters of Science in Organisation Leadership).  MBAs offered under the programme will be around a third of the cost (£7,000) of many other providers.   The ‘blended’ education model is unusual in online education because most MOOC providers don’t have an infrastructure.  VFS Global has 1,900 visa centres in 127 countries around the globe, so possesses a genuine international network where the classroom element of online learning can be provided.   VFS-Oxademy will target companies who might want to take advantage of the low-cost MOOCs model to invest in their workforce, especially in developing countries.    Another way in which the VFS-Oxademy courses are different is that they offer actual work placements.  MBA students have to take part in a work placement as part of final stages of their course. VFS-Oxademy are offering the possibility of a ‘virtual work placement’ with a blue-chip organisation. For the first time this will allow students in the Middle East or India to work with a company in the UK via virtual technologies.  (This also suits employers who often struggle to find office space for work experience students but are happy to interact with them virtually).   VFS Edu Support Services Pvt. Ltd., the education services arm of VFS Global, today (18 July) announced a partnership with award-winning UK-based Edtech Oxademy Technologies and its subsidiary Oxademy Business School to form the new global digital learning platform ‘VFS-Oxademy’.

How can VR reduce the cost of learning in further education?

For those involved in the provision and consumption of further education, there are several challenges to overcome. Available finance is often limited on both the side of the education provider and the prospective learner, limiting the amount of instruction offered, and the number of people who can afford to learn.

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