November 30, 2009

(BBC News) New teachers ‘lack secure jobs’
Many newly-trained teachers are struggling to find secure positions in England’s schools, a survey suggests.

Just under 45% of new primary teachers in England found permanent posts, the survey for the Training and Development Agency for Schools says.

This compares with 25% of secondary teachers, says research on 13,000 new teachers who qualified in 2008.

School closures and mergers are thought to be forcing some new teachers to take temporary or supply work.

However, the survey showed that 95% of new teachers were in some form of teaching job.

But there were big regional variations, with only 33% of newly-trained primary teachers finding permanent work in the North East compared to 73% in London.

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November 24, 2009

(BBC News)

Banks are still finding “sneaky ways” to make money out of people, the consumers’ association Which? has said.

It claims the rate on authorised overdrafts is at its highest level since records began in the mid-1990s.

According to the latest Bank of England statistics, the average overdraft rate is 18.96%, although many of the big banks can charge considerably more. Which? says that the rate for unauthorised overdrafts has fallen owing to a major court case.

It has accused banks of raising the rate on authorised overdrafts to make up the difference.

November 17, 2009

(BBC News) ‘Tough decisions’ on weak schools

Children’s Secretary Ed Balls wants rapid action to improve 50 struggling secondary schools in England.

He is writing to local authorities to express concern at a lack of action.

These are part of the group of 270 National Challenge schools in which fewer than 30% of pupils achieve five good GCSEs including English and maths.

Mr Balls says he expects local authorities to show they can “take tough decisions to do what is right to drive up standards”.

“I am concerned that some local authorities are not making proper use of the powers already available to them, for instance using the power to issue warning notices,” says Mr Balls.

November 12, 2009

(BBC News) 

1.7m asked to improve work skills

Three quarters of England’s population should go to university or do an advanced apprenticeship by the age of 30, the government says.

It means another 1.7 million being qualified to the equivalent of A-level. Learners will have more choice, ministers say, but funding will focus on having better qualified technicians.

The ambition is part of a new strategy that will also see the scrapping of some 30 public bodies currently delivering skills policy.

The new aims were outlined by Skills Secretary Lord Mandelson – as the latest unemployment figures showed the number of young people out of work had increased by 15,000.

November 11, 2009

(The Times Online) HSBC and Barclays suggest the ‘biggest jolt has passed’

HSBC and Barclays, Britain’s biggest banks, reported significant improvements in underlying profits yesterday and gave fresh evidence that the explosion in defaults by business and personal borrowers is beginning to ease.

HSBC said that underlying profits for the third quarter were significantly ahead of last year and that the worst of the crisis was probably over.

Michael Geoghegan, the chief executive, said: “I believe that the biggest jolt has now passed. But it is too early to claim victory, especially while unemployment is still rising in the West.”

HSBC revealed that bad debts in its US consumer finance division, which was the problem business at the heart of its troubles at the start of the crisis, fell for the first time since the start of 2006, in tentative evidence that the credit cycle was starting to improve.

November 10, 2009

(BBC News) Shoplifting has surged to record levels in the UK, fuelled by the recession, according to a study.

The value of retail goods stolen rose 20% to £4.88bn in the year to June, the Centre for Retail Research said.

The UK had the highest amount in value of shoplifted goods in Europe and was third behind the US and Japan globally, data from 1,069 retailers suggests.

Checkpoint Systems, which commissioned the report, said there had been a rise in “middle-class” shoplifters.

November 9, 2009

(BBC News) The number of UK firms planning to make staff redundant has fallen, a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development suggests.

However, reduced labour demand and lower hiring levels show there is no sign that the labour market is anywhere close to returning to proper health.

November 6, 2009

(BBC News) Tories set out school objectives:
A Tory government would close the educational achievement gap between rich and poor, the party’s education spokesman has pledged.

Setting out the party’s priorities for schools in England, Michael Gove pledged to make exams and the curriculum more robust and rigorous.

He vowed to raise teaching standards and refuse to fund teacher training for students without at least a 2:2 degree.

Ministers say the achievement gap between rich and poor is narrowing.

November 5, 2009

 

(BBC News)  Councils plan low tax increases Council tax bills in England could rise by an average of 1.6% next year – the lowest increase for more than a decade, according to a survey.

The Local Government Chronicle magazine asked councils what they were planning, although budgets have yet to be set. Many said they would be freezing or reducing their bills in 2010-11.

 With an average rise of nearly half this year’s increase – adding about £22 to a typical Band D bill – one expert called it “a race to the bottom”.

In March this year England’s Band D council tax rose by an average of 3%, which was the lowest increase in 15 years.

 Local Government Chronicle (LGC) deputy editor David Blackman said: “Westminster’s public spending phoney war seems to have spread to local government judging by this year’s council tax survey.

 

November 4, 2009

(BBC News)  Universities in the UK are worth £59bn for the economy, says a report into the economic impact of higher education. The report, based on figures for 2007-8, highlights the growing role of universities as major employers and revenue earners. Universities created, directly or indirectly, over 668,500 jobs – or 2.6% of the workforce, says the report. The figures follow the launch of the government’s blueprint to increase the economic importance of universities