New Teaching Excellence Framework For Universities Throws Up Mixed Results

The new government Teaching Excellence Framework, designed to provide a snapshot of the quality of teaching and learning in UK higher education, has rated 295 institutions bronze, silver or gold according to their standard of undergraduate teaching.

 50 colleges and universities were awarded gold, 116 silver and 56 the lowest rating, bronze.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) was introduced by the Government to build evidence about the performance of the higher education sector, complementing the existing Research Excellence Framework with an analysis of teaching and learning outcomes.

A total of 295 universities, colleges and alternative providers of higher education voluntarily took part in the TEF.  Each provider was rated gold, silver or bronze, or received a provisional award where there was not enough data for a full assessment.

Excluding those with provisional ratings, a gold award was achieved by 26 per cent of participants, silver by 50 per cent and bronze by 24 per cent.

The TEF awards were decided by an independent panel of experts including academics, students and employer representatives.

Drawing on national data, and evidence submitted by each university or college, the TEF measures excellence in three areas: teaching quality, the learning environment and the educational and professional outcomes achieved by students.

Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said “Students invest significant amounts of time and money in their higher education. They rightly expect a high-quality learning experience and outcomes that reflect their potential. The UK already has a high bar for quality and standards, which all universities and colleges must meet. But the TEF judges excellence above and beyond this, clearly showing the highest levels across the sector.”

“The TEF measures the things that students themselves say they care about: high-quality, engaged teaching and a supportive, stimulating learning environment which equips them with the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their potential, and then to progress to a good job or further study.”

Click here to view the results in full.

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CQC Consulting on Assessment Framework Relating to Learning From Deaths

The CQC is reviewing the way it assesses care providers’ approach to learning from deaths in the NHS and social care sectors.  By 2018 new assessments will apply to NHS Trusts, GPs, social care providers and independent services.

In December they published their interim report Learning, candour and accountability, which looked at how NHS trusts review, investigate and learn from deaths.  They found that:

  • families and carers often have a poor experience of investigations and are not always treated with respect, sensitivity and honesty.
  • there’s no single framework for NHS trusts that sets out what they need to do to learn from deaths that may be the result of a problem in care.
  • none of the trusts looked at could demonstrate good practice across all aspects of identifying, reviewing and learning from deaths.

Recommendations in the report included reviewing and strengthening the way the CQC looks at how providers identify and investigate the deaths of patients, the quality of investigations, and how providers learn from deaths and the action they take.

The CQC has been working on how they can put this into practice through the inspection regime and these proposals are now being consulted on.

The questions the CQC are planning to ask care providers are similar to the ones used when gathering evidence for reports:

  • How do you involve families and carers?
  • How do you identify which cases to review?
  • What process do you use to investigate deaths?
  • How do you invest in training and support for deaths investigations?
  • What governance arrangements do you have to make sure you learn from deaths to improve the care you provide?

There are three main parts to the approach the CQC is proposing:

  1. Monitoring and relationship management. Finding out what families and carers are saying by using sources like local Healthwatch, PHSO investigation findings, Patient Liaison Services (PALS), Clinical Commissioning Groups, Bereavement Services and NHS trust meetings. Gathering information that NHS trusts are now required to collect on the numbers of deaths of patients, those that have been reviewed thoroughly and estimates of how many deaths were judged more likely than not to have been due to problems in care.
  2. Risk-based reviews of investigations of individual deaths. Where there are concerns – either raised by families or carers, or from other information – the CQC will review a sample of up to four cases of deaths that have been investigated, selected randomly by the inspection team. These will include a person with a learning disability and person with a mental health need, where these can be identified.
  3. Inspection interviews. They will look at trust policies and procedures. Interviewing the board member and executive who leads on learning from deaths, the operational lead on quality and safety and some of those who investigate cases.

The results will contribute to the ‘well-led’ part of the assessment and rating.

The CQC is keen to hear from families and carers, but are also interested in the views of health professionals.

You can take part by completing the CQC’s online survey.

The survey closes at 6pm on 14 July.

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New Amazon Book Chart Tracks Reading Rather Than Just Buying Habits

Amazon has been updating its most sold books chart hourly for some time now, but they have now added a feature whereby you can also track what people are actually reading!

The new weekly list analyses data from Amazon’s e-commerce site and other connected apps — including audiobook shop Audible, the GoodReads social recommendation service, and its Kindle e-books app.  For obvious reasons it does not include paper books.

The “Most Read” list ranks books by the average number of daily Kindle readers and daily Audible listeners each week, whether they are in the process of reading or have completed reading the book in that week.

The “Most Sold” list ranks books based on the number of print and electronic copies sold and pre-ordered through, and Amazon Books brick-and-mortar stores as well as books borrowed from Amazon’s subscription programs such as Kindle Unlimited,, and Prime Reading.

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Low Patient Outcomes Result in CQC Putting GP Surgery in Special Measures

The CQC has rated Daneshouse Medical Centre, in Burnley, Lancashire as Inadequate, and placed the practice into special measures following an inspection in April.

The CQC’s report highlighted a number of areas for improvement:

  • They must analyse significant events and patient complaints to identify themes and take action to try and ensure they don’t happen again.
  • They must improve governance arrangements to monitor and review the receipt and use of prescription pads
  • The practice must take action to mitigate any risks to patients and ensure their care and treatment is provided in a safe way.
  • Establish an accessible system for patients and carers to make complaints, and ensure those complaints are recorded and monitored for improvement processes.

Alison Holbourn, Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice at CQC, said “We found that people registered with Daneshouse Medical Centre are not getting the high quality care which everyone should expect to receive from their GP.”

“Comprehensive processes were not in place to keep patients safe, or the practice well run.”

“It was worrying that positive outcomes for patients were lower than both the local and national averages, and we saw little evidence that the practice was doing anything to improve them. This is unacceptable. People are entitled as a very minimum to receive effective care.”

“We have told the practice where they must improve and we are placing them into special measures to ensure that action will be taken to improve the quality of care for patients.”

“The service will be kept under review and if needed could be escalated to urgent enforcement action. Where necessary, another inspection will be conducted within a further six months, and if there is not enough improvement we will move to close the service by adopting our proposal to remove this location or cancel the provider’s registration.”


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Top University Removes Prayer Space Without Warning

Students at the University of East Anglia, protesting about the removal of the only on campus prayer space, took their Friday prayer session in a public university square last week.

On the eve of Ramadan, students were told the space was being taken away due to lack of space during exam season.  The space has been turned into a permanent corridor to the university’s library.

Speaking to the Independent a spokesperson from the UEA Islamic Society said: “We are shocked and appalled that the University, who re-located us… on the condition that they would investigate a permanent solution which they have failed to produce, would take away our only prayer spaces during exam period and before Ramadan”.

“They have done this without consulting or telling any Muslim Students or the Student Union”.

“All we want is to pray in peace and in cohesion at UEA but after years of being bumped around campus, being the only faith forced to use our campus cards to access our prayer space and now finding out by accident that our prayer space is being permanently taken away, UEA does not feel like a space for Muslims.”

Over the past few years, Muslim students at the university have used a lecture theatre for prayer and worship. The larger Friday worship sessions take place at a separate location by the Blackdale student residences.

Since Sunday they have had no designated prayer space, a move students say they had not been invited to discuss.

The university is now drawing up plans to expand in order to recruit 20% more students.  Prayer space has been included in the plans but students have complained that it is too small for the existing number of Muslin students, nevermind an expanded cohort.

A UEA spokesperson said the Vice Chancellor would be meeting with students imminently to discuss the matter.

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Research Shows SMEs Need to Embrace New Payment Methods

Research by Barclaycard has revealed that SMEs reluctant to adopt new payment methods are losing out on business, online and in store.


The research shows that nearly half of all millennial shoppers (18-34 year olds) prefer to pay with invisible payment methods (where card and shipping details are saved in advance of the transaction) and conversational payment methods, such as Amazon’s Alexa.

15 per cent of shoppers, rising to almost three in ten (29 per cent) 18-34 year olds have chosen to abandon a purchase because preferred payment methods were not available.


  • 24 per cent of SME retailers are yet to introduce any form of contactless payment.
  • 28 per cent of those spoken to had plans to introduce new methods of payment.
  • 20 per cent didn’t think they would ever need to introduce invisible payments.

With more than four in ten (42 per cent) consumers and over half (53 per cent) of 18-34 year olds choosing ‘touch and go’ as their preferred way to pay, and the usage of contactless having risen by 104 per cent in the last 12 months, contactless is no longer an option but a necessity for retailers, with next-generation payment methods not far behind.

Greg Liset, head of small business at Barclaycard said “Our figures show that SMEs are losing sales by not adopting increasingly popular technologies that facilitate invisible and conversational payments. While it’s encouraging that many smaller retailers are becoming aware of the importance of these emerging methods, they need to turn this ambition into action to steal a march on the competition and keep up with consumers both now and in the future.

‘Making these changes needn’t be complicated or time-consuming – with support from their payment provider, SMEs can ensure they have the right solutions for their business while satisfying the ever-growing group of tech-savvy, digitally-minded shoppers.’

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Islington Care Home Rated Inadequate Following CQC Inspection

An Islington care home run by Care UK Community Partnerships Ltd, has been rated as Inadequate by the Care Quality Commission.

Lennox House in Durham Road provides residential care and nursing care for up to 87 older men and women in purpose built accommodation. Following the unannounced inspection in January 2017, it has been rated as Inadequate for being safe and well-led. It is rated Requires Improvement for being effective, caring and responsive.

During the most recent inspection CQC found that there was:

  • No registered manager in place, as required by law.
  • Medicines were not managed safely. People had missed their medicines due to a lack of supply or other administration and recording errors.
  • Insufficient effort was being made to engage and stimulate people, including people who remained in their rooms.
  • The service was not well led. Systems to assess, monitor and drive improvement in the quality and safety of the service were not effective

Alison Murray, CQC’s Head of Inspection – London, Adult Social Care, said “It is disappointing that standards at Lennox House have fallen. Although almost everyone we spoke with who used the service, relatives and friends, praised staff for their caring attitudes, we found significant shortfalls in the quality of care people received. The overall rating for this service is now Inadequate and the service is in special measures.”

“If not enough improvement is made we will take action in line with our enforcement procedures to begin the process of preventing the provider from operating this service.”

“For adult social care services, the maximum time for being in special measures will usually be no more than 12 months.”

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Is International Trade Slowing Down For UK SMEs?

Jeremy Cook, Chief Economist at World First, commented: “The volatility of foreign exchange markets over the past twelve months, combined with the political and economic uncertainty has made the task of approaching foreign exchange markets with clarity and confidence even more difficult.  Rather than address the issue of currency volatility, many SMEs seem to be burying their heads in the sand. The lack of forward planning amongst SMEs is leaving them susceptible to future shocks that could have a significant impact to their bottom line – we only need to look towards June’s UK general election as another potential flash point.”

Top 5 Business Concerns Shared by UK SMEs

  1. Rise in inflation
  2. Fall in consumer spending
  3. Currency volatility
  4. Change in government policies
  5. Increase in business rates
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Cambridge University Student’s Photos Go Viral

Photo of students from Cambridge University14 black male students from Cambridge University have hit the headlines following the publishing of a photo on Facebook.

Inspired by the viral image of young black men from Yale, the Cambridge ACS (African-Caribbean Society) decided to capture just some of the black men who contribute to one of the world’s most innovative intellectual spaces.

The image of the students on the lawn at the University was posted in a bid to encourage more black students to apply to the university, challenging the stereotype of a Cambridge student.

The post on Facebook said: “In 2015, only 15 black, male undergraduates were accepted into Cambridge.  However, it is important that despite their underrepresentation, we let young black people know that this is something that they can aspire to.”

“There are people here at Cambridge from different backgrounds, who don’t fit the stereotypical image of what a Cambridge student looks like, doing their thing and killing it.”

Dami Adebayo, who studies engineering, said there needed to be more black role models for men to aspire to.

Talking to the BBC he said growing up he had aspired to be like actors, artists and sportsmen such as Lebron James, Will Smith and Jay-Z because “that’s how I perceived success”.

He went on: “Barack Obama is probably the first black role model I had who made it ‘cool’ to be ‘book smart’, and that was by the time I was 11, that’s crazy.”

Mr Adebayo said he applied to Cambridge University because he “knew he was capable” but was unsure if it would be the “right place”.

“But with a mindset like that, these types of institutions will never be the right place for people like me.

“Every student from a diverse background who applies and gets in here is a step towards changing that.”

Cambridge is one of 27 universities that are currently members of the Race Equality Charter (REC) – a scheme designed to address the representation of staff and students from ethnic minority backgrounds.

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CQC Places Havering GP Practice into Special Measures

A Havering GP practice has been rated Inadequate and placed into special measures following a Care Quality Commission inspection in January 2017.

Dr Rana Chowdhury’s practice at Oak Lodge, Romford, was rated Inadequate for being safe and well-led. It was rated Requires Improvement for being effective. For being caring and responsive it was rated as Good.

Some of the actions the practice must now take include:

  • Putting a system in place to ensure mandatory training for staff regarding fire safety, safeguarding and infection control is up to date.
  • Improving the monitoring of patients on high-risk medicines.
  • Investigating safety incidents thoroughly and ensure that the procedures are adhered to and there are effective reporting systems in place.
  • Establishing a system for disseminating and acting upon national patient safety alerts to ensure that staff are aware of the process.
  • Reviewing which emergency drugs are kept and the system for ensuring they are fit for purpose.

The practice has also been told to establish systems to:

  • monitor uncollected prescriptions
  • review how patients with caring responsibilities are identified
  • ensure that staff have the capability to use clinical computer systems.

Michele Golden, CQC’s Head of General Practice Inspection, said “We are placing the Dr Rana Chowdhury’s practice into special measures. This will be for a period of six months when we will inspect the practice again to consider whether sufficient improvements have been made. If we find that the provider is still providing inadequate care we will take steps to cancel its registration with CQC.”

“We did though find that patients said they were treated with compassion, dignity and respect, and they were involved in their care and decisions about their treatment.”

“Information about services and how to complain was available and easy to understand. Patients said they found it easy to make an appointment with a named GP and there was continuity of care, with urgent appointments available the same day.”

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