As I write this article there are only 5 weeks left until Christmas. One can hardly believe it is the end of another term, and before long we will be preparing for yet another academic year. For those of you in the sector I expect you are fending off auditors for year-end finalisation, working out if the apprenticeship targets and loans you have been given really are feasible, alongside feeling absolutely worn out. If you are not meeting such criteria I want to know why – these jobs don’t get any easier in my view!
Last week I went to the AoC Conference in Birmingham which turned out to be a highly informative and proactive event. I found it useful particularly in regard to the implications of Ofsted, English and maths, and the whole issue of employability within the framework. I wonder sometimes how the school sector would react if they had to face the sheer deluge of criteria, alternative funding streams and income generation targets that we have to face on a daily basis. It was also good to be in the audience to see the Beacon Awards. I would like to congratulate all the award winners but particularly Weymouth College – they have been through a lot but their recent Ofsted and now this must give them the inspiration for even greater success.
So how are you getting on with the ROaTP process for registration regarding the new apprenticeship agenda? It is proving to be far more difficult than ever anticipated and I am still waiting for some definitive answers from the portal system… Nevertheless, guidance received separately from AoC was extremely helpful in clarifying certain points. To be honest I am more concerned as to how we are going to hit targets; if you are working in an SME dominated area as I am, then the levy approach is only a small part of the resulting equation.
Life is never quiet in FE and I was pleased to see Richard Atkins last week and hear his approach to moving ahead in his new role as FE Commissioner. Richard’s grounding at both Yeovil and Exeter College certainly proves his credentials for the role which I am sure will be realistic in terms of analysis and pragmatic in terms of the way forward. I do have a concern however, and that is in regard to how we measure the impact of interventionist strategies. I am always hearing of best practice models etc. and moreover how strategies have transformed organisations but only last night on the internet looking for a document on management structures in FE I came across a paper exemplifying the work of certain colleges. I stopped and looked into this in a bit more detail and I can certainly tell you that some of these colleges will, I am sure, be under the eagle eye of the Commissioner and not for best practice!
“Ah,” I hear you say, “he is off one of his rants.” Actually, no – we are told when buying a house it is location, location and location. Surely therefore if our Ofsted and delivery world is impact, impact and impact we should demand the same from the new strategies introduced for our sector. But I will finish with peace, joy and rest – all I wish for you and your families this Christmas.