I doubt there is anyone in Education who isn’t finding the pressure to change that bit daunting.  Is it a possible strategy in fact for us to be so embroiled in meeting Government agendas that we forget to think and question the validity of change?  You have to give it to Michael Gove - he eats up change and his concepts are having an impact. In fact there is no phase of education or learning that doesn’t escape the ‘Gove treatment’.

When I said 'impact' I did not quantify that impact because apart from levels of blood pressure etc I doubt we can measure it yet apart from ethos.  The ethos I feel is clear; we need to change and we need to change fast, but however we change, the focus on the learner must not be lost.  You’ve got a way to go yet, Michael, in terms of education with those with learning difficulties and disabilities – the agenda must be about preparing and supporting these learners. Yet I still see evidence of old fashioned approaches which seem to satisfy the ego of the trainer rather than putting the learner first.  That is not to say there is no exemplary practice – there are some dynamic and exciting models out there that need to be cascaded.

The interesting fallacy here is that with the Gove agenda has come recognition that there is a need for a multifaceted solution to learning, hence academies, free schools, studio schools, University Technical Colleges, Higher Education funding for Further Education (FE) Colleges and so it goes on.  I presume they are there (and I agree if my logic is right) because the government have tried to create models for different types of learner.  Why then are we considering on Ofsted agenda which at first sight looks to be consulting on a similar system for FE as for schools?  I do note however that HE seems exempt from the process.  There really is a need for Colleges to respond to the current consultation from Ofsted because we do need to make it clear that schools and FE Colleges are very different institutions and demand different approaches from a quality assurance perspective.

What do I mean by this? Well, I want FE to be examined from the perspective of outstanding teaching and learning on one level but I also want it to be acknowledged how we transform lives.  Many FE lecturers will know how difficult it is to get some learners who have been out of learning across the doorstep in the first  place and how their progress is often incremental but eventually highly successful.  On this basis  let's have a system that is fair but also recognises what FE has to do to make its impact.  At the same time I fully agree that we need to change the inspection approach even further and Colleges do need to measure up to a plan of rapid change if quality is only at a satisfactory level or less.  My view of the current system is that Colleges are unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good or outstanding and that the new process really says unsatisfactory, not up to scratch, good and outstanding.  Why can’t satisfactory remain but with an action plan to move to good/outstanding? Then if that does not happen it is time for serious intervention!

Actually this must be one of my more ‘generous’ days because I am not opposing change but just asking for it to be contextualised correctly.  The new Chief of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw , is out to create change and we would be pretty dismayed if he didn’t want to raise standards further – equally the consultation may give us the opportunity to show how we support the changes within a full understanding of how FE works.  We live in an environment that does not tolerate an ostrich mentality but fair discussion and debate is necessary.  In the time I have carried out inspections for FE Colleges, I was dismayed at times by some of the people I met who were interested in working their hours and going home with no real dedication to their students or College.  These however were the minority and in the main I met hundreds of dedicated professionals who really made a difference to the lives of so many.  So let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. To conclude, we are totally embroiled in change and we are making headway.  It’s difficult to keep our eye on the ball at times but we have partnerships in FE and successes that are the envy of many.

Paul Phillips is principal and chief executive of Weston College, Weston-super-Mare


Read other FE News articles by Paul Phillips:


Navigating the 16-19 funding maze

Looking outside the box for your FE institution

Adult skills - time for a re-think?


You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

AELP Webinar Team added a new event 15 hours

Good Strategy, Bad Strategy

Overview Rumelt lays bare an uncomfortable truth: Most companies have strategies that are quixotic, muddled, and undifferentiated. This is hardly...

  • Tuesday, 03 August 2021 10:00 AM
  • Online

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page