Articles from Norman Crowther

The Vocational Election?

As we enter the last week of the general election it is interesting to see - and really positive - that both parties are taking seriously post 16 education and training.

The language of FE or what does it all really mean?

One of the many headed problems that the hydra of FE has is to do with the language that it uses and is used about it. There are plenty of debates about what terms mean, such as: professionalism (dual or not?), skills (pre-entry, basic, or employability), institutions (too many to mention) and roles (ditto) - all of them snapping with their many teeth for whoever dares address them. So, it is with some trepidation that I reflect on the language of FE itself…

Reflections on responses to the Industrial Strategy

The ongoing need for developing not just higher level vocational qualifications and training, but also a way of providing that need is advanced by the new industrial strategy proposal. But responses to the strategy (albeit a Green Paper) already show the underwhelming response to what could have been a new vision of how skills are developed in workplaces, in colleges, and how they support individuals and communities in all phase of life. And, perhaps more to the point, how such a vision of skill formation will benefit a low productivity economy seeking to enter new trade agreements. If we get it wrong we will need to import such skills, an irony too great to not note.

Skills Plan or Mission Impossible?

A Personal View On: The Skills Plan or Mission Impossible?

Problems of a Market Model of VET: What can we learn from the UK and Australian experiences?

This article is written by Paul Hager, Emeritus Professor, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia and was developed from conversations I had with Paul on the Reimagining FE conference at Birmingham City University on 29th June, 2016. It is with great pleasure that I would like to share Paul’s work with an English FE audience.

Transversal Abilities: The answer to all our problems?

Government policy on work experience

A new vocational paradigm?

There have been many calls for vocational education and training to be established within the English educational system as a robust and esteemed route, but they have all failed.

Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration?


Some theory anyone?

I remember doing a research paper around 2000 for the LSDA and found it very difficult to find research on FE that was theoretical. Most was done by those working in the sector who were trying to find out what works (or what didn’t!) based purely on empirical findings, usually from LSC, and local generated data. There seemed to be no conceptual grip on how the system worked, what happened in it and why, and, more to the point, how it could or should work. I’m glad to say that since then bookshelves are now filling up with not only books on FE but also books that contain theory about FE or aspects of it. There are two current theoretical models which are remarkably well formed to suit exploration of the FE sector and what works. The first is an ecological systems theory given by Professors Ann Hodgson and Ken Spours. The second is given by Lorna Unwin who offers the much referenced ‘expansive and restrictive apprenticeship model’. Others have given eminent descriptions but not theoretical models as clear and coherent as the ones I’d like to discuss. I will discuss the ecological systems theory here.

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