David Gallagher, Chief Executive of the awarding organisation NCFE, discusses what’s been a landmark year for the education charity and why it’s important to build on the sector’s achievements during 2023 and remain united in the year ahead.
NCFE: 175 Years Strong
It’s been a busy 12 months both inside and outside our sector. From huge global events to qualification reforms, it’s a year that’s had many unknowns but also opportunities to work collaboratively and create positive change.
With this academic year marking NCFE’s 175th anniversary, our longevity is not often seen in our fast-paced world. Our rich history, heritage, and experiences provide us with the ability to tackle challenging times, continuously adapting and developing to best meet the needs of learners and the education and training sector.
It’s through this continuity, deep expertise, insight, and commitment that we can continue to ask the right questions for the sector and millions of learners across the UK.
Over the last 12 months, we’ve investigated key workforce challenges in FE, social care, early years, and digital through our Spotlight Reports – bringing together data and leading experts to share their firsthand experiences.
Transforming Education our Future Initiatives
We also released a landmark paper, alongside The Edge Foundation and Corndel, looking at the future of further education. The Transforming Skills report puts forward five key recommendations that will ensure we have a system fit for the future – from embedding uniquely human skills to embracing technology and reimagining a more fair and inclusive system of assessment.
Not content with that, we partnered with FE News on its first FE Collective event and subsequent report, designed to unite the sector and find solutions to some of the biggest challenges ahead, including artificial intelligence and how FE is funded.
Revolutionizing Education Through Qualification Reform
NCFE has also been stepping up to the challenges and opportunities around qualification reform and supporting the sector through this period of change. We’ve been offering specialist consultations to help providers and created a free comprehensive guide to the review of post-16 qualifications in England.
Since 1848, NCFE has been committed to ensuring that no learner is left behind. While this core purpose will never change, we’ve continued to push the boundaries of a traditional awarding organisation to ensure everyone, particularly those consistently underserved, have the opportunities, means, and motivation to reach their full potential over a lifetime of learning.
Following a highly successful three-year pilot, our partnership with WorldSkills UK on the Centre of Excellence moved into a second phase that enables all FE Colleges, independent training providers, and Higher Educational Institutions throughout the UK to benefit from world-class professional development.
Innovation, Expansion, and Partnerships Drive NCFE’s Success
We marked the two-year anniversary of our Assessment Innovation Fund, which has now seen £1 million invested in 12 unique pilots investigating the use of new methods and tools. With the next funding window set to launch next year, and our new partnership with UFI VocTech, it continues to push boundaries and go from strength to strength.
NCFE has also expanded its accreditation services, to help employers with bespoke in-house training and qualifications. Upskilling the workforce has benefits for both the organisation and individuals, and we’ve already seen successful partnerships with Northumbria Police, Stockport Housing, and international charity Save the Children.
This is all in addition to our consistent focus on our core activities as an Awarding and End point assessment organisation.
Uniting for Education: 2024 and Beyond
With 2024 being an election year, there are questions around what the result will mean for current FE policy direction; thinking about the qualification reforms or how the proposed Advanced British Standard might complement the existing qualification landscape.
In this important year for the education sector, we’re keen to continue championing the causes that matter to colleges, independent training providers, schools, and learners, presenting a united and collective voice around the key issues we face.
Together, we know that we’re better equipped for what will undoubtedly be a period of rapid change, with many challenges and opportunities. And that’s why we’ll continue to collaborate, championing the needs of learners and helping to create truly transformational learning experiences for all.
By David Gallagher, Chief Executive of the awarding organisation NCFE