The end of the term is rapidly approaching and I spent a few minutes looking at the various demands and dictates arriving on my desk. They range from details of how short notice Ofsted inspections will operate to funding changes and the new adult loans scheme. On top of that and let’s just say we push all of this to one side, there is the bread and butter – actually ensuring that the learners in front of us are taught properly by inspirational teachers who will give them the skills to progress to further study and eventually employment.

The Ofsted agenda is an interesting one because the first thing the inspectorate needs to do is to examine the mix of provision between long, short and very short categories. One might inevitably expect the ratio to vary slightly between inspections, but if it has changed dramatically then it is time to dig around to see if curriculum is being manipulated for inspector rather than curriculum being for the purpose for the learner. It is also worth looking at Colleges that reduce in size considerably because that in itself may signify inappropriate strategy. Generally allowing for such analysis there is an almost straight forward focus on the learner journey of experience complete with associated success. We shouldn’t moan about that, it is the purpose of our roles today. Every college is different but we all need to focus upon producing the best possible learning experience for everyone who crosses our doorstep.

Staff within colleges generally deliver way above the statutory requirements of their role. I am writing this article at 6.30pm on a Wednesday evening in my college, yet most of the secretarial staff are still present, as are many lecturers completing moderation of coursework, providing individual support to students’ etc. etc. I was amazed therefore to read in an article from another source that our staff in Further Education (FE) colleges are overpaid with generous perks and holidays - my experience of FE staff, and I have worked in five different FE Colleges in my career, is that staff are dedicated, conscientious, entrepreneurial and highly professional. That isn’t to say that there are a few who play the clock waiting game with minimal interaction, but market forces dictate and they won’t be with us for long.

I am not going to spend any time this month on funding changes because it is inevitable that they will occur and even more inevitable that they will continue to re-occur. The use of the adult loans however is a concern - I can accept to a certain extent that people must pay for training, but since the loans in the main will not be huge in comparison to Higher Education loans, how will the process be managed? In my own college we have been highly successful in engaging hard to reach learners and getting them over the threshold where the majority then vastly increase their confidence and succeed. Now however, we have the double whammy do all that and get them to sign up for the loan. Ok we’ve got to do it but is the loan application quick or are the forms a bureaucratic nightmare? I don’t know the answer but it will be a novel process dealing with adults who need key support in foundation learning and who may have to fill in a loan application synonymous with a detailed mortgage application! My understanding from the Skills Funding Agency is that we will be able to suggest positive suggestions for possible change. If that’s the case make sure you pilot the ability for these forms to be filled in correctly in the first place.

Finally, it is that time of year when we say goodbye to some colleagues who have decided to escape the rat race, have got their retirement sorted and have just managed to beat the latest austerity measures from the Government regarding pensions and annual allowance and lifetime allowance etc. Good luck to you all, certainly some key leaders are leaving the patch in the South West where I work, brilliant because they have inspiration, and successful because they are poachers turned gamekeepers. The world of Further Education continues to be a magnet for the entrepreneur, the commercial manager and those who seek knowledge.

So I will close now but not before wishing all of you a successful start to the next academic year, but preferably a well-deserved break at some point in the next few weeks. Look after your new entrants to the teaching profession in September in particular because to date they are untainted by bureaucracy, idiosyncrasies and plain daft decisions.

For those readers in North Somerset we are witnessing significant change for both the town of Weston-super-Mare and the whole authority area. Plans are coming to fruition from a number of perspectives and these include a new Academy for learners with Autism and Asperger’s, significant success at the end of year shows for both Weston College and local schools, plus continued changes with regard to NHS re-organisation and the new developments on the seafront of Weston-super-Mare. I watched a programme on the economy of Greece last night and against this benchmark the area is pretty outstanding!

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

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

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter yesterday

RT @NCFE: ‘For as long as humans have worked, and whatever industry they may have worked in, success has always been predicated on having t…
View Original Tweet

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