Greetings, and welcome back to our UK Education and Career Newsletter! As the Easter holidays come to a close, we find ourselves on the cusp of an exciting new chapter - one filled with upcoming exams, career exploration, and the potential to shape a brighter future.

The past few weeks have been a time of rest and rejuvenation, but now it's time to refocus our energy and dive headfirst into the challenges that lie ahead. Whether you're a student preparing for your final assessments or a job seeker exploring new career paths, this is a pivotal moment to unleash your potential and chart a course towards your aspirations.

Remember, you are not alone on this journey. Our team is dedicated to providing you with the insights, resources, and support you need to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of education and career development. Together, let us embark on this exciting expedition, where the possibilities are as limitless as your ambition.

Dive into this edition of our newsletter, and prepare to be inspired, empowered, and equipped to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. The future is ours to shape, and we are excited to walk alongside you every step of the way.

Enjoy the read, and may it ignite the spark of inspiration within you!


SCHOOLS

Schools Warn Parents of Harmful WhatsApp Groups Targeting Children

Schools across Tyneside have issued warnings to thousands of parents about malicious WhatsApp groups targeting children as young as 9 years old. The groups were found to be promoting content related to self-harm, sexual violence, and racism. School officials reported that students in Years 5 and 6 were being added to these groups, with one head teacher discovering that 40 children in a single-year group were involved. The police are investigating the origin and purpose of these groups. Schools are working to address the growing issue of harmful social media content impacting their young students, as experts express concern about the damaging effects on children's mental health and well-being.

Charities Call for Continued Free Period Products in Schools

Charities are urging the government to extend its free period product scheme in schools, set to end in July 2024. The government-funded service, used by 99% of England's secondary schools, is crucial amid the cost-of-living crisis, as demand for these products continues to rise. Campaigners warn that ending the scheme would be a "big step backwards" in the fight against period poverty.

Council Ordered to Revise Summer-Born Child Admission Policy After Parent's Complaint

Peterborough City Council has been told to revise its policy regarding delayed school admissions for summer-born children after the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman found its "very high threshold" for exceptional circumstances to be at odds with national guidance. The council has agreed to reconsider a parent's request and update its policy to align with the government's school admission code.

£650,000 Investment Boosts Facilities at Cumwhinton School

Cumberland Council has allocated a substantial investment of £650,000 to Cumwhinton School in Carlisle, funding the development of a new classroom and the upgrading of toilet facilities. The expansion is aimed at increasing the school's capacity and providing enriched learning opportunities to meet the growing demand for school places. The project, designed by Architects Plus and constructed by Cubby Construction, is scheduled for completion by August.


FURTHER EDUCATION

Improved Pay Offer for Further Education Lecturers in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland government has made a new and improved pay offer to further education (FE) lecturers, including an increase in starting salary from £24,496 to £30,000, an 8.4% pay increase, and an additional £1,000 to be added to all other lecturers' pay points for 2023/24. This revised offer comes after a previous "insulting" proposal was rejected by the lecturers' union. The Economy Minister hopes this new package will prevent delays in the issuing of qualifications for students this academic year.

NPTC Group of Colleges Hosts Vibrant Family Fun Day in Afan Valley

NPTC Group of Colleges organised a vibrant Family Fun Day at the Croeserw Community Hub, in partnership with Wildfox Resorts, NPT Council, and NPT CVS. The event, funded by SPF Funding, aimed to foster community engagement and showcase the diverse educational opportunities available at Neath College, Afan College, and the Maesteg Construction Centre. Attendees enjoyed interactive activities, local vendors, and the chance to explore potential educational pathways. The event highlighted the NPTC Group of Colleges' commitment to community outreach and empowering individuals to pursue their educational aspirations.

Leeds Manufacturing Festival Launches Digital Platform to Address Skills Crisis

The Leeds Manufacturing Festival will host the launch of a new digital platform called "Engineering Apprenticeships: Excellent Employers" this week. The platform, created by NextGen Makers, showcases the best engineering apprenticeship employers in the UK to address the skills and recruitment crisis faced by manufacturing and engineering firms. The directory, available to schools and colleges, features employers who have achieved or are working towards the Engineering Apprenticeships. The initiative aims to help companies provide the best possible apprenticeship experience and retain young talent within the industry.

Wirral Met College Reaccredited to Matrix Standard for High-Quality Advice and Support

Wirral Met College has been reaccredited to the prestigious Matrix Standard, recognising the institution's commitment to delivering exceptional information, advice, and guidance (IAG) services to its diverse student body. The external audit highlighted the college's leadership, service delivery, and continuous improvement in supporting students throughout their educational journeys.


HIGHER EDUCATION

University Staff to Vote on Possible Strike Action Over "Scandalous" Job Cuts

University staff at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) are set to vote on potential strike action after the university announced plans to cut 225 academic jobs, with up to 80 facing compulsory redundancy. The University and College Union (UCU) has described the cuts as a "wholesale attack on staff and students", with the union's general secretary calling the decision "scandalous". SHU cites financial pressures and the need for investments in new facilities as reasons for the cuts, but the UCU accuses the university of reckless financial decisions and prioritising buildings over academic standards.

University of Winchester Forges Study Abroad Partnership with Renowned Leiden University

The University of Winchester has announced a new study abroad partnership with Leiden University in the Netherlands, providing its BA English Literature students the opportunity to spend a semester at one of Europe's oldest and most respected universities. This historic partnership allows Winchester students to study at Leiden, which has an impressive alumni and boasts 16 Nobel Prize winners.

Nottingham Trent University Moves Away from Maps and Flags to Promote Cultural Diversity

Nottingham Trent University has deliberately removed displays of maps and flags from its Global Week celebrations, focusing instead on challenging perceptions of culture within borders. The university aims to create a more inclusive environment where students can explore their similarities and differences without the potential barriers posed by national symbols.


SKILLS & TRAINING

SP Energy Networks and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai Partner to Deliver Overhead Line Training in North and Mid Wales

SP Energy Networks has partnered with training provider Busnes@LlandrilloMenai to deliver a new 22-week overhead line training course in North and Mid Wales. The course aims to train up to 70 people over two years, equipping them with the skills and experience needed to work on the electricity network and support SP Energy Networks' operations in the region.

Coleg Cambria Achieves Gold Accreditation from National Cyber Security Centre

Coleg Cambria, a college with campuses in Deeside, Llysfasi, Wrexham, and Northop, has received a gold award from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) as part of its CyberFirst initiative. Cambria is one of only eight institutions in Wales to achieve this prestigious benchmark, which recognises the college's excellence in delivering digital and IT qualifications, particularly its popular Digital Degree Apprenticeship in Applied Cyber Security.

Free Steel Industry Training for Neath Port Talbot Residents

The SWITCH-On programme, offered by Swansea University, provides free, accredited training to upskill current and future steel workers in Neath Port Talbot. Courses cover green skills like Electric Arc Furnace operations, Circular Economy, and fossil-free steelmaking to support the industry's transition to net zero.


CAREER

Dräger Expands with New North East Facility

Dräger Safety UK, a major Northumberland employer, plans a multimillion-pound expansion with a new facility near its existing Blyth plant. The company aims to retain skilled staff and accommodate growth, though details on the existing site's future remain unclear.

Gloucestershire Bakery Expands Headquarters

Hobbs House Bakery, a 100-year-old family business, has expanded its Chipping Sodbury headquarters from 20,000 to 30,000 sq ft. The expansion enables the bakery to serve more customers and provide good employment opportunities in the local community.

Britishvolt Site Sold for Data Centre Development

The failed Britishvolt site in Northumberland has been sold to an investment company, Blackstone Group, which plans to transform it into one of Europe's largest data centre facilities. This marks a new chapter for the 235-acre site, creating hundreds of jobs and a potential £10 billion investment in the North East.

Strong Northern Ireland Job Market Continues in 2024

Northern Ireland's employment rate reached a four-year high of 71.7% in late 2023, with unemployment at just 2.2%. While recent data suggests a slight softening, business surveys indicate robust recruitment intentions across manufacturing and services sectors, pointing to an ongoing strong job market.

 

POLITICAL OUTLOOK

UK Government Launches £2.1 Million Veteran Employment Scheme

The UK government is launching "OP PROSPER", a £2.1 million initiative to support veterans in securing high-skilled jobs in key sectors. The programme aims to improve awareness of veteran skills and connect them with employers, helping more ex-service members find fulfilling employment after leaving the military.

£1.5 Million Funding to Boost Occupational Health for SMEs

The UK government is providing £1.5 million to five projects developing innovative occupational health services for small and medium-sized businesses. This includes AI-powered tools to monitor employee wellbeing and tailored support to help workers stay employed amid rising long-term sickness absence.


EVENTS

Tech Summit London 2024

Cedia's annual Tech Summit returns to London on April 18, 2024, showcasing the latest innovations in the tech industry. The one-day conference at the Business Design Centre will feature expert speakers, networking opportunities, and demonstrations of cutting-edge technologies for businesses and industry professionals.

Manchester Careers Fair | 19th April 2024 | The UK Careers Fair

A career fair in Manchester on April 19, 2024, at the Britannia Hotel, offering job seekers the opportunity to connect directly with a diverse range of local employers. The event is free and open to candidates from all backgrounds and experience levels.


HALL OF FAME THIS WEEK


Teenage Campaigner Celebrates Skateboarding's GCSE Debut in Wales



Osian George, a 15-year-old skateboarder, is proud to see his campaign for skateboarding to be included in school qualifications succeed. Skateboarding has now been approved as a GCSE sport in Wales. Though Osian lost out on extra training opportunities, he is "very happy" that other young skateboarders will now benefit from this recognition. Osian, who started skateboarding at age 5, competed in last year's Urban Games and came second. He is glad his efforts have helped create more opportunities for aspiring young skateboarders in Wales.

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