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Thursday, 04 April 2013 10:17

School sport and PE to receive £150m boost

SkillsActive supports the government announcement that school sport and PE are to benefit from £150m a year investment for the next two years.

The money will be given to primary schools and will significantly improve physical activity and sporting opportunities for Britain’s youngest pupils.  It is anticipated that the ring-fenced investment will inspire the next generation of children, allowing them to achieve more sporting success as part of the London 2012 legacy.

The introduction of tougher assessment on sports provision via Ofsted will ensure funding brings maximum benefit to pupils, and delivers an excellent opportunity to organisations with specialist physical activity and sport professionals, industry coaches and leaders. There is now a chance to increase the delivery by these coaches through working with head teachers and PE specialists to ensure the delivery of sports lessons.

This investment will bring significant economic value to the industry which helps to improve the levels of physical activity, health and well-being of the nation.  It also presents an opportunity for additional job creation including apprenticeships within the sector.

Long term health benefits

Ian Taylor, CEO SkillsActive said, “The investment by government is welcomed as it gives a much needed boost to our industry.  We must not forget the benefits to the economy of a fit and healthy nation, starting with children and teaching them healthy habits which are life long.

This enhances the independence and skills leadership role as we look forward to working with organisations and individuals who want to ensure they are equipped with the right skills to deliver on this strategy – particularly those whose employers are part of The Compass Association.

The sector and in particular, members of Compass as well as National Governing Bodies coaches, have an excellent opportunity to have a large impact on not only the health and well-being of the nation, but the opportunity to inspire future sporting stars. This is an opportunity we can ill afford to miss and we should make a concerted effort to be part of a step change in the way in which sport is delivered to young children.“

Martin Gallagher, CEO Compass Association stated,

“In the current economic climate, there is a tremendous opportunity for schools to increase the provision of sport for children.  The government are to be commended in taking this step; it has done a great job in finding this money. The long term benefits to health, physical activity engagement and participation in sport will be substantial. 

It is widely seen as a task for National Governing Bodies (NGBs) to deliver additional sport in schools; however it must be noted that this is a unique opportunity for members of The Compass Association of sports and activity providers to engage with head teachers and primary schools.  We must not forget to look at the sustainability of the model, with careful consideration taken as to the long term provision of sport in schools once the investment ends.

More than sport 

This should not just be about sport; this should be about children having an opportunity to engage in physical activity and have a fun time. The members of Compass are specialists in this field and have significant experience and knowledge of working in primary schools with teachers.”

Ian Taylor also stated. “This investment also gives head teachers an opportunity to utilise the developing the “Register of Children’s Activity Professionals”, this is a new and independent Register which houses information on individuals working in the children’s physical activity industry. Members of the new Register deliver physical activity for children and young people in the area of multi-disciplinary games and sports, and all kinds of physical activity.”

We hope that this additional funding combined with the lasting legacy of London 2012 will inspire the next generation to take up sport and physical activity from a young age.

NUS has been awarded £5 million by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) for a Students’ Green Fund, the four key themes of which will be student participation, partnership, impact and legacy.


The funding will help students to engage with their universities and colleges on sustainable development, and to ensure that sustainability remains a priority with institutions.


NUS will run a single-round bidding competition in summer 2013, to allocate the funding. The funded projects will then receive the funding over two full academic years (2013-14 and 2014-15).


The Students’ Green Fund will encourage local collaborative sustainability initiatives through students’ unions, putting students in the driving seat for sustainability engagement initiatives, as well as supporting them in their role as agents for change.


NUS is determined to create a social norm of sustainability in institutions. The ground work laid by initiatives such as Student Switch Off in university dormitories, the sustainable food programme, Student Eats, and Green Impact, will be strengthened by the Students’ Green Fund. 


HEFCE recently signed up to NUS’ national environmental accreditation and awards scheme - Green Impact. Run by trained students, Green Impact uses a series of online workbooks to help staff achieve a range of green targets. These include increasing recycling of food and drink packaging, reducing energy use, sourcing sustainable products, and promoting the use of public transport.


Steve Egan, Deputy Chief Executive, HEFCE said:


“We are very pleased to be able to support this excellent student led initiative. It has the full support of the sector and will play an important role in helping meet challenging carbon targets and wider sustainable development goals.”


Engagement is a key theme of the Students’ Green Fund. It aims to engage everyone from students to governors to course representatives and the wider community. A key priority for the fund will be strategic community partnerships that encourage community learning and development in the area of sustainability.


Danielle Grufferty, NUS Vice President Society and Citizenship said:


“We are really excited to build on the sustainability work begun by NUS through Green Impact. HEFCE’s investment in students indicates a firm commitment to producing those who are both qualified and sustainably literate when they graduate.”


The personal digital footprints of this year’s new graduates could cost them a job, warns a public relations expert.

Victoria Tomlinson, author of a new ebook, From Student to Salary with Social Media, says: “Thousands of young people left university this summer without understanding what a quick Google search tells an employer about them. They might have good CVs, but if their Twitter and Facebook accounts are full of evidence of drunken debauchery or what employers see as bullying and unpleasant comments, then they won’t make the shortlist. And they may never know why.”

Victoria Tomlinson, chief executive of Northern Lights PR, urges students to clean up their social media profiles and tighten privacy settings because employers do make judgements if they see unpleasant language and behaviour online.

Claire Morley-Jones, managing director of HR180, recruits everyone from part-time staff to chief executives on behalf of her clients. She says: “We do use social media to find candidates. Unfortunately, more often than not we are concerned about what we see online. Some of the worst cases have involved searching for potential candidates and discovering online content that involves salacious, ‘peeping tom’ style photos of a recent night out, accompanied by comments of a derogatory, insensitive and callous nature towards the participants!”

Asad Ali is a partner in law firm Blacks Solicitors and an active user of Twitter. “We definitely disregard some candidates because of what we see online, but others come over as extremely professional and engaging in their social media and that counts as a plus."

Victoria Tomlinson agrees that social media also offers students and graduates a chance to stand out in the job market: “Students are surprised when we say they should have a professional LinkedIn profile. Already a third of employers are recruiting by putting jobs online and searching for people on LinkedIn with the right skills and experience.”

Sarah Larby, classics student at Newcastle University, read the ebook and said: “It’s helped me to see where I was going wrong with my online profiles – and how to change and improve them. I'd never seen Twitter as a way of targeting and interacting with businesses but this book explains it's an easy way to generate a relationship with a business you are interested in.”

Written for students, careers advisers and parents, the ebook is practical and packed with tips and advice from employers and headhunters as well as examples of students successfully using social media to win a job. It covers how to protect a student’s ‘personal digital footprint’; create a professional profile online; include keywords for Google; create LinkedIn and Twitter profiles; engage with employers online and write a blog to demonstrate passion for a career.

From Student to Salary with Social Media is available for £1.02 from Amazon

The Exam Results Helpline has handled thousands of calls since A-level results day and is bracing for another surge on GCSE results day this Thursday [August 23].

The 40 experts who make up The Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000 are a lifeline for students whose grades are higher or lower than expected and need to rethink their futures.

The Exam Results Helpline, an independent and free service funded by the Department for Education, opened on August 16 and runs until August 25.

ERH advisors, who answered 11,000 calls last year, say most questions are about re-sits, re-marks, university or college courses, apprenticeships, NVQs, HNDs, diplomas, finding employment, setting up in business, moving away from home and gap years.

Each is fully trained with at least five year’s experience as a professional careers advisor. Calls are free from landlines but charges vary from mobile phones or other networks.

More information, including videos of students who did not get their grades, can be found on the Exam Results Helpline website,

Careers advisor Sarah Bull said: “The main message we are giving to students is that if you did not get the results you expected, don’t get stressed.

“Get plenty of information by talking to us, your teachers, or school careers adviser and don’t rush into anything. “Take your time before deciding what to do next.

“It is particularly important that students get good advice about the range of options available to them after GCSEs.”

Taking A-levels is not for everyone. It may be that an apprenticeship or a BTEC is a much more suitable option - giving the opportunity to gain employability skills, achieve a qualification and potentially earn a wage at the same time. The bottom line is that each student must decide what is right for them.

Thursday, 16 August 2012 18:00

Is uni the only route to a career?

The release of this year’s A level results has again given rise to the debate over the emphasis placed on university as the main route to a fulfilling career.

Businessman John Caudwell, who sold his mobile phone business in 2006 for £1.5 billion says that strong A level results and a university place are not the be-all and end-all. Caudwell built his empire, growing it to more than 10,000 employees and £2.25 billion turnover but did not take A levels or go to university.

"Clearly, for certain people, further education is absolutely the way forward, certainly if you're going into a professional environment where you need those qualifications," he said. “It also gives them a chance to develop themselves emotionally and intellectually, and enhance their education at the same time.

"But I don't think formal education necessarily plays any part in being a business success, in fact, possibly quite the reverse. I firmly believe that a challenging childhood that creates that drive, passion and desire to succeed is one of the strongest attributes to actually being successful.”

"Of course, you do need to be intelligent, there's no getting away from that, but being intelligent doesn't mean you have to go to university; being in a vocational situation, being in an entrepreneurial environment, and pushing for success, might be a way better education for some people that spending five years on further education.”

Recent CBI research shows that more than a third of employers, rising to 68% among large firms, expect to expand their recruitment of school leavers and apprentices with A-levels.

With more employers looking to hire at 18, often through innovative “learn-while-you-earn” schemes, Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director-General, said the Government should listen to business views to ensure exam reforms help better prepare young people for work and life.

“With the education leaving age being raised to 18 before the next General Election, there is even more pressure to develop high quality, rigorously examined options for those who do not choose the A-level route.

“Too often these courses have been the Cinderella of the debate and we need to urgently address this, by developing simple and effective structures for vocational study and by learning from the good examples offered by University Technical Colleges and others.”

The CBI will publish its proposals in new research on the education system this autumn.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 19:39

Cripes! LOL - Words we lose and gain

A string of traditionally British words such as ‘cripes’ and ‘balderdash’ are dying out amid the popularity of shortened text-style terms, it has emerged. Experts found a significant decrease in the use of words which our parents and grandparents would have uttered on an almost daily basis. Other words which have fallen by the wayside amid the LOL generation are ‘rambunctious’, ‘verily’, ‘salutations’ and ‘betwixt’.

"As languages mutate just as words and idioms die out new ones emerge. The folly is to try and stem the tide of the new whether they emerge from rap, technology, teenspeak, or the multitude of jargons that we invent to make shortcuts and communication more efficient between groups."  J. P Davison, author of Planet Word


The worrying trend was revealed in a study carried out among 2,000 adults to mark the launch of “Planet Word”, a book by J. P Davison which tells the story of language from the earliest grunts to Twitter and beyond.

Yesterday J.P. Davidson, the author of Planet Word said: “Language is something that is constantly evolving. You only have to look on Twitter to see evidence of the fact that a lot of English words that are used say in Shakespeare’s plays or PG Wodehouse novels – both of them avid inventors of new words – are so little used that people don’t even know what they mean now.

“This could be viewed as regrettable, as there are some great descriptive words that are being lost and these words would make our everyday language much more colourful and fun if we were to use them.

“But it’s only natural that with people trying to fit as much information in 140 characters that words are getting shortened and are even becoming redundant as a result. But all is not gloom.”

Language change linked to Twitter

The report found 73 per cent agree language had changed dramatically since people started using text messaging and Twitter. And they agreed ‘longer’ words were become increasingly outdated. Researchers also found only 82 per cent are familiar with the word ‘raconteur’ and 70 per cent have never used the word ‘shenanigans’.

One in fifteen adults has never used the word ‘drat’ and half didn’t know what a ‘cad’ was. Despite this 83 per cent think they have a good vocabulary. One quarter of Brits say they now use ‘text speak’, like ‘lol’, ‘jel’ and ‘soz’ when in verbal conversation as well as using it in written communication on mobile phones, emails and social media sites.

Other words that Brits said they didn’t use anymore included ‘bally’, ‘swell’ and ‘rambunctious’. Just nine per cent have used the word ‘bogus’ and only ten per cent have used ‘fiddlesticks’ and only three quarters have used ‘oopsy-daisy’. Only half have use ‘knackered’ and three quarters have never used ‘diabolical’ while three quarters don’t use ‘cheerio’ and a fifth say they don’t know what ‘myriad’ means.

Most Brits admitted they often come across words they don’t know the meaning of with teenagers and those in their twenties finding this happening more frequently than any other age group. Fifteen per cent of Brits say they would have a bad impression of someone who used longer words and language that wasn’t as common and was a little outdated.

Seven out of ten say they use different words and now to what they used ten years ago and said they embraced slang and regularly used it. Most said they enjoyed learning new words and liked the idea of the language changing. But despite this more than a quarter  of parents said they were often baffled by the language and slang their children used  while a similar amount admitted being equally confused by words their elderly parents used.

Planet Word is the official tie in book to accompany the Stephen Fry series of the same name and Stephen said: “This book will delight you and perhaps make you think afresh about the free, inexhaustible and delicious resource that lies somewhere in your brain and allows you to be who you are. But next time you speak or write, do not try to work out what is going on socially, culturally, neurally, intellectually or physiologically. The effort is beyond us all and you might just explode. Instead celebrate.”

Tutors Directory asks: does it depend the the ages of those polled?  Do you still use many traditional words? Are you a die-hard traditional wordsmith? Post your comment below!

With the autumn term now well under way thousands of pupils are settling down to a new experience of learning – in Free Schools.

With greater freedom than their local authority counterparts they can determine choice over a range of areas such as the length of the school day, the curriculum and how they spend their money.

As the first 24 opened their doors the government was still defending the initiative, insisting that the schools are central to the drive to raise school standards across the country.

Raising educational standards

Michael Gove says that international evidence shows that giving teachers and heads the kind of increased freedom they will have in Free School classrooms helps to raise standards of education.

He cites Charter schools in New York, which are similar to Free Schools, that have been shown dramatically to close the gap separating inner-city neighbourhood students from those of the wealthiest suburbs – by 86 per cent in maths and 66 per cent in English.

Similarly, Charter schools in Chicago close the achievement gap between disadvantaged inner-city public school students and middle-income students in suburban districts by half. This is despite the fact that these students entered the Charter Schools achieving lower scores on average than their public school peers.

Focus on eliminating effects of deprivation

The government says the schools are opening because of demand from parents for more schools, smaller classes or alternative forms of education. Of the schools opened so far in England 12 are located in the most deprived 30 per cent of communities in the country. Currently, 15 are in areas where there is basic need for school places.

The Coalition Government recently announced radical plans to change the school Admissions Code to allow Free Schools and Academies to prioritise the most disadvantaged children (those eligible for Free School Meals) in their school admissions. With children eligible for Free School Meals attracting additional funding through the Coalition’s Pupil Premium – worth £430 per pupil this year – there will be even more incentive for these schools to attract those pupils most in need of the high-quality education they will offer.

“These schools offer smaller class sizes, tougher discipline, longer days and higher standards,” said Mr Gove. “They give parents more choice. And they force existing schools to raise their game.”

People behind the Free Schools

It is expected that the first Free Schools will create more than 9,000 new state-funded school places. The list of schools on the government’s education website shows that 17 of those opened so far are primary schools, five are secondary schools and two are all-age schools. Six are faith schools.

Five are set up by teachers, eight are set up by parent or community groups, five are set up by existing education providers, and one by an Academy. Five existing schools will also become Free Schools.


Point of comment: We would like to hear comments from any tutors who may be part of an application for a Free School or working at one. What are your thoughts on topic?


  Employers are struggling to find sufficient numbers of graduates with skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, reveals a new CBI/EDI report.

Nearly half (45%) of the 694 employers who took part in Ready to grow: business priorities for education and skills, predict demand for high level skills to grow as businesses move deeper into recovery and growth following the recession.

Meanwhile 30 per cent expect low level skill roles will decline in the next three years and 32 per cent expect to struggle to fill intermediate level jobs requiring skills equivalent to A level.

Desired skills in science, maths, technology and engineering


But 45 per cent of the businesses polled, representing 2.4 million employees, say they are already having difficulty recruiting staff with skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Manufacturers and science-related businesses have the most difficulty finding highly-skilled people to fill their posts. Overall 59 per cent said they were concerned with finding STEM-skilled people in the next three years.

"As we move further into recovery and businesses plan for growth, the demand for people with high-quality skills and qualifications will intensify,” said Richard Lambert, CBI Director-General.

"In the future, people with qualifications in science and maths will be particularly sought after, and firms say it is already hard to find people with the right technical or engineering skills.

“The new government must make encouraging more young people to study science-related subjects a top priority. Businesses can help by showing that these skills lead to exciting and rewarding careers, helping to tackle the big challenges, such as climate change and energy security.”

Future tutoring opportunities

The survey is being published at a critical juncture in the economic and political cycle. Businesses are now planning for growth, and regard investment in skills as vital to improving productivity and performance.

Employers say they want to see the new government take action to prioritise action to improve these skills, but with government budgets under pressure, it likely that the demand will increase for publicly funded workforce training to deliver economically valuable skills.

STEM skills are not the highest priority for employers, however. While businesses are generally more satisfied with the employability of graduates significant problems still remain. Almost half (46%) are dissatisfied with graduates’ business and customer awareness, and a quarter are unhappy with graduates’ time management (26%) and problem solving skills (24%).

When it comes to A level subjects, employers said those that boost a young person’s job prospects are ones which improve business ability and knowledge of science and numeracy – namely, business studies (42%). After that they listed maths (21%), English (13%) and physics or chemistry (9%). The A levels employers rate least in terms of employability are psychology (3%) and sociology (1%).

Finally, the majority of employers want the government to ensure all young people leave school (70%) or university (81%) equipped with the employability skills they need to succeed in the workplace – such as the ability to communicate, work in a team, solve problems and apply basic knowledge learned at school, such as literacy, numeracy and IT, in a real world setting.

With a little help from business commentator Paul Bridle we ask: What do self-employed educators need from Government and how likely are we to get it from the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition that makes up the next Parliament?


1. Less burdensome taxation

We need a taxation system that recognises the unique challenges that beset entrepreneurs and SMEs trying to grow or invest in business, so the Conservative’s plan to cut corporation tax for small companies from 22p to 20p is a good start. But will they keep Labour’s Time to Pay scheme, which allows deferment of tax payments. It is claimed to have helped over 200,000 small businesses stay afloat through the recession and Labour had promised the scheme would be extended for the whole of its next Parliament.

Ditto for the 50p tax on every pound earned over £150,000 and the removal of personal tax-free allowances for people with incomes over £100,000. Tutors and other self-employed educators would welcome its repeal.

“There is a lot of talk about cuts and raising taxes but what’s really needed is for businesses to earn more money, and you do that by improved opportunities for entrepreneurship and business,” says Paul.

2. Fewer regulations

The Research & Development Tax Credit scheme is one of a number of financial schemes set up to help SMEs claim refunds on business expenditure but only a fraction of those eligible claim. Why? Something to do with the 80-page guide booklet and risk being fined 100% of your claim value if you fail to meet its stringent standards. While the Lib Dems have promised a consultation “to identify regulations for repeal, reduction or simplification”, promised solutions from the Conservative government include a one-click registration model to make it easier to register a new business and fewer restrictions on social tenants to become entrepreneurs.

“Business needs less regulations and the freedom to invest,” says Paul. “It is harder than ever to employ people now and there is no incentive to invest. Self-employed people have a limit as to what they can do on their own. So their growth lies in being able to employ someone and that is both expensive and requires so much in the way of rules and regulations, that they shy away from it.“

3. A pro-enterprise culture

The best way to create sustainability is through free enterprise so we rather welcome the Work for Yourself programme promised by the Conservatives. It will help move more people into self-employment and create a new generation of small businesses complete with a network of business mentors, access to loans and promotion of self-employment and franchising as a route back into work. This would be good news for the self-employed educator.

4. Access to funding

Businesses need to be able to access credit when they need it and although steps have been made to make this easier the reality is far from the case. The Conservatives plan to create more diverse sources of available credit for SMEs with “a big, bold and simple National Loan Guarantee Scheme”.

They are also likely to keep Labour’s restructuring of banking rules to bring new entrants into the market, which has been widely welcomed. At least five new banks have already either established themselves as business lenders or are in the final stages of setting up.

5. Fair competition

“Business needs room to move and a playing field that is level if it is going to compete on the global stage,” says Paul.

Competition is your chance to polish and shine in the best you have but will you be able to do so on a fair playing field? Self-employed educators could benefit from a bigger slice of the government procurement pie with plans to cut administrative requirements so they are easier to bid for.

6. Market opportunities

With both coalition sides placing emphasis on raising educational standards, cutting class sizes, new schools run by parents, funding premiums for taking in troubled pupils, and investment in areas like one to one tuition and extended schools provision, the self-employed educator is unlikely to find a diminishing market here. The Liberal Democrats’ hope to scrap all university fees might free up availability of funds to pay for extra tuition.

Paul adds: “Business also needs a strong education system with competent and enterprising students entering the labour force – less emphasis on benefit and rights and more on responsibility and ownership.”

Self-employed educators willing to invest a little more effort and creativity into thinking and marketing their services will do well.

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