From education to employment

Keeping the plates spinning over the Whitson holiday

Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of Weston College

Before the Whitson holiday, I was (like most of my colleagues) exhausted, and when I walked around the College I could see the strain on the faces of staff. The reasons are multifaceted, but they reflect the sheer diversity of what we do and the clever game now is to keep all of the plates spinning…

Every College in the country will be spinning plates, but it is the sheer magnitude of what is happening that is now the draining factor. It is at times such as this that I value the staffing community at my College who continually go above and beyond and their attention on the learner is paramount to our success.

Even though times are difficult the charisma, the wow factor and the tenacity of staff never ceases to amaze me.

The College was visited two weeks ago by members of the Post 18 Review panel. We didn’t know what to expect, but they were highly perceptive and their questions focused and evaluative. Their understanding of our sector was sound and their real attention was on what makes a successful College.

We discussed partnership, we discussed budgeting, but most importantly the focus was on the learner and the influence of our staff on the teaching and learning process.

I don’t know what the outcome will be, but it was a refreshing experience to explore blue sky thinking in terms of the future. Let’s hope the nettle is grabbed and philosophies are not derailed!

As the levy agenda advances, colleges are now seizing opportunities to work with an even greater range of employers. A lot of my colleagues, however, are expressing frustration at the lack of clarity from some of the key health bodies including the Nursing Midwifery Council.

This is in terms of registering with them to delivery training which is most eminently suitable for our sector. This perhaps could be an issue that needs to be taken up nationally and resolved immediately!

Well time to close now – I hope you saw my student Marvin on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ at the weekend – I can remember him as a young dynamic learner playing to a local academy some years back and now his accomplishments are quite spectacular.

I would like to think FE played a part in his journey of change and aspiration.

My friend, by the way, has bought one of those Amazon devices that enables you to give instructions and receive music requests etc. I don’t suppose Government could supply a special edition for the FE sector combining counselling, financial recovery strategies, forms for increased funding and a bureaucracy destroyer?

Frivolous – yes I know, but we live in hope of change common sense around funding and equality for our sector including our own funding council.

Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of Weston College

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