#CollegesWeek #LoveOurColleges – After two consecutively successful Colleges Weeks (2018 and 2019), it is exciting as we prepare for our third one.
Even though it is a strange time for everyone at the moment, not least colleges, as the pandemic continues to alter people’s lives and communities across the country. We recognise this at AoC, and hope that our resources, guides, tools, and tips are making it as easy as possible to engage this year.
I have seen many of you getting your plans in place over the past few weeks. The #LoveOurColleges on Twitter is filling up fast and I’d encourage you to check it out, so that you can get involved and share your love and excitement for all things FE.
There is so much to celebrate, from the inspiring Covid-19 effort which saw the manufacturing of PPE to utilising college kitchens to provide food for the vulnerable. Colleges have helped everyone in the sector feel proud of the role they have played through this crisis – this week is dedicated to you and we encourage you to share and shout about your collaboration, innovation and transformational work which has had such a positive impact on your students and your communities.
I am proud to represent AoC as it has made such progress in getting colleges better represented, recognised, and valued in the halls of Westminster and beyond. The campaign was borne in the shadows of a decade of neglect that had hit student teaching hours, support, staff pay and colleges finances hard.
The mood now could not be more different, politicians of all stripes, policy makers and stakeholders see colleges as a priority that must be invested in and protected. It is down to your hard work and exceptional relationship building and campaigning that has helped to do this. But as ever, our work is never over, we must continue to push people to realise that our sector and institutions are at the centre of the biggest issues and challenges of the day. Particularly in relation to rebuilding the economy post-Brexit and through COVID-19, strengthening communities, and supporting people. Our time has at last come to be recognised for the differences we make in our communities.
This week will be all about bringing the impact we have on communities together with the clear asks to government about investment in and prioritisation of colleges. On Friday, we launched the results of a new survey we conducted amongst SMEs and their views on skills gaps. We will be talking about the findings throughout the week on social media and in the national press. Please look out for the findings, speak to your local newspaper and media outlets about it in a local and regional context. It was great to see that the celebratory feeling of Colleges Week, has already started on Friday as Tes hosted their FE Awards rewarding all the wonderful work of the sector. Congratulations to all the winners, it was amazing to see the contributions colleges make to young people and adult learners throughout the year.
So, happy Colleges Week 2020, share your ideas, get in touch with us if you haven’t already and I can’t wait to see all the fantastic work to make this the most inspiring Colleges Week yet.
Sally Dicketts is AoC President and Chief Executive of Activate Learning