From education to employment

Looking back at LSIS’s help for the sector

Rob Wye is chief executive of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service

As LSIS’s time draws to an end I wanted to highlight how the sector has benefited from our services.

First of all there are the annual events we have provided such as the Governance Conference. The sixth and final one, which was held in Manchester this year, explored the issue of governance in a new era. As changes such as the Ofsted framework, increased emphasis on teaching and learning, and the findings of the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning delegates affect the sector, delegates were given the opportunity to explore what their role is and how it is changing. Other annual events which have been provided or supported by us include the Leadership and Management Conference and the Annual Research Conference – all of which have added value to the sector. Our final Annual Research Conference takes place this week; yet again this will provides practitioner who have received support and grants to undertake Action Research projects to develop their professional expertise, the opportunity to share their experiences and findings with others, enabling others to improve through their learning.

However LSIS has not added value just by holding events; that has been just part of our contribution to the sector. Providing small grants to many providers, of all types, across the sector has been a feature of our work; one which has enabled many organisations with the support, and impetus to begin a journey of improvement. And at the heart of everything LSIS has done has been the professional expertise of our colleagues and associates. In this column I have often reiterated our three priorities for the sector and I believe that we have demonstrated our commitment to these: to equip the sector to achieve outstanding teaching and learning; to ensure the sector has excellent leadership, management and governance; and to mobilise effective and timely intervention both to avoid and resolve cases of failure.

A number of Principals have contacted us to tell us how they have benefited from LSIS’s support. For some we have been the route into a leadership position – this year alone nine participants on our Senior Leadership and Development Programme have been appointed to executive positions. For others we have supported their whole organisational improvement journey, resulting in improved Ofsted grades after working with us, for example Walsall Adult & Community College (WACC) – the first community provider in the country to be graded outstanding by Ofsted under its new framework – and City of Bath College which received its highest inspection rating in an overwhelmingly positive Ofsted report. Other providers, such as K College, received support from us as they made decisions about their futures during difficult periods of transition.

But now we must draw the work of LSIS to a close. ‘It’s now or never’ if you would like to take advantage of our services, and there are just a few programmes and opportunities left to attend or use your LSIS account. We are still progressing arrangements for some services to transfer to other organisations, so we are hopeful that the sector will be able to continue the journey of improvement LSIS initiated. Over the coming weeks we will be reflecting further on the value that LSIS has added to the sector, making sure that the sector is left with a legacy on which it can develop further.

Rob Wye is chief executive of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service, which aims to accelerate the drive for excellence in the further education and skills sector

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