Last week the Shadow Secretary of State, Tristram Hunt, visited Milton Keynes College three days after publishing the final tract of the Husband's Review of Vocational Learning. Mr Hunt is a telegenic historian of some acumen. What he has little experience of is the world of Further Education. His academic route through life has meant that FE is not something he has grown up understanding or knowing and visiting an FE College (not the first time he has done so) exposed him to the lived reality of the 'other 50%' that his party professes it wishes to value more. My impression is that he learns quickly and listens well. He genuinely understands the importance for the economy, society and young people in particular of getting this part of the education system right.

His visit to the college exposed him to journalism students, Hair and Beauty students, Catering and Hospitality students and the College's elite basketball team, MK Trojan. He was impressed. And so he should be. Talent comes in all shapes and sizes and disciplines. The Whitehall mandarinate and Russell group of universities are but one manifestation of excellence. An FE college displays a bewildering array of all sorts of other types of excellence. So will Mr Hunt's plans for 14-19 reform help the development of more and better pathways for such talent and excellence to shine?

The answer I think is maybe or even probably. Personally I would favour a return to Tomlinson's vision of curriculum reform at a root and branch level but I understand the political necessities of not promising seismic change the year before a general election. And it is clear that Labour gets the challenge. Resources matter, clarity of vision and direction matter, excellence is the goal and FE has as much excellence in its DNA as any other more lauded parts of the education system.

At heart the reforms announced in 'Qualifications matter: improving the curriculum and assessment for all' focus on clarifying routes to success through ensuring an exit qualification for all 18-year-olds. This qualification will be either a general (academic) or technical baccalaureate. Such a reform brings the UK in line with other developed countries in formally recognising a certificated 'graduation' at 18. The proposals do not seek to change existing qualifications such as A levels but more wrap around them Maths, English, (to be studied to 18), employability skills and an extended project. There would be an intermediate version at level 2 for those students not ready for level 3.

In addition the report recommendations bringing LEPs into education through detailing that they must ensure better IAG; places a new duty of care on schools to improve their delivery of IAG, and various ideas designed to strengthen collaboration among education providers, LEPs and others at a local level.

Finally, and perhaps of most significance, is a recommendation for a Cabinet level post to represent skills and qualifications reform. This is important. It would, or should, mean that a heavyweight could be sitting around the Cabinet table come May 2015 arguing for a better resource allocation to be given to delivering this more modern system of education. I have argued for a Ministry for Growth that would combine DfE and BIS but this idea could achieve the same goals for FE.

If these reforms were enacted along with other ideas to better recognise the professionalism of the sector, we could end up creating a system of education that offers genuine parity of esteem between academic and vocational routes. This would be clever politics and smart government. Most importantly it would benefit young people. We ask young people to make decisions on their futures far too soon in their educational lives. The baccalaureate approach enables options to be kept open for longer. In addition making sure that young people have employability skills and better English and Maths will boost UK plc productivity at a time when it is languishing and going backwards. The reasons for this are for another blog but the key point remains. We need more investment in all aspects of education for all young people not just some.

Whatever the outcome of the next General Election the moves towards recognising the importance of a genuinely plural education system are beginning to gather traction. Let's hope Mr Hunt's colleagues in Parliament have his ability to listen and learn.

Nick Isles is deputy principal of Milton Keynes College – follow him on Twitter at @dpmkcollege

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

Trust is very powerful, as the article suggests. The question is, how to develop trust in a work...

AELP Webinar Team added a new event 8 hours

Flexi-jobs, ATAS and Apprenticeships

Overview Following recent consultations by the Department for Education, a new flexi-jobs apprenticeship scheme will be piloted from July 2021....

  • Thursday, 03 June 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