It is A Level results day and the College is almost full. Staff in Further Education since incorporation have moved to the agenda of becoming a business with the learner placed first. Interesting to note however that this nettle has yet to be grabbed in the school and academy sector where the same magnitude of effort has yet to come. I am not going to dwell on this and instead suggest some issues that will affect us all over the next twelve to twenty four months.
Top of my agenda is the task we face with apprenticeship growth. Already I am reading pieces of work that suggest the government target will not be achieved. Actually it’s self-defeatism, the target is a massive ask but we need the glass to be at least half-full before we embark upon such a challenge. I suppose there is no option but to get on with the task in hand and the new flexibilities regarding graduates undertaking apprenticeships etc. possibly provide some routes for growth. More importantly, however, is the underlying message that graduates need to retrain in many circumstances. I suppose this brings clarity on the need to ensure degree students are aligned to the job market – I have no doubt this comment will upset some high level academics, but the writing is on the wall.
My next task is Higher Education, and we have recently set up a new initiative around ‘Professional Education’ which is a double whammy mechanism that should hopefully bring HE and FE together on a common platform for the future. I am very keen therefore to simultaneously ensure our degree provision is both sustainable and pertinent to the job market but also that we do work closely with our HEIs in terms of producing the Level 3 entrants for progression.
The next task will be the most controversial (but most sensible) next stage for the College and that is to actually re-examine our processes, delivery mechanisms and curriculum to ensure that we are not carrying out processes for meaningless need or lack of income. We must move to a leaner form of delivery if we are to get our business in the best possible shape for the future.
Apart from my interest in rugby and wrestling, I have taken great delight in following the progress of our athletes in the Rio Olympics. Apart from the obvious winning, I have been intrigued to hear of their motivation for medals and how they were influenced to achieve greatness. The number who were influenced via education or other Olympic winners was significant. It gives credence to our need to place the learner first and, moreover, learning from our learners for the future.
FE is still great, we’re still cheesed off with picking up the pieces from other parts of education that have totally messed up learners’ qualifications and aspirations, but we are critical to learners across the UK. Optimistically we have a new Prime Minister, a new team and a DfE alignment. Surely, that’s better than we have previously had?
Have a great term.