David Gallagher, CEO for NCFE

Results days are defined by the achievements of learners. Whether it’s on a local level, with accounts of individual excellence and triumph through adversity, or on a national level, where the media compares results to previous years. In some senses, this year has been no different. But the ongoing narrative around ‘grade inflation’ at A Level and GCSE, as well as the broadening attainment gap between different educational institutions and economic backgrounds, has caused a huge amount of discussion over how we can reshape the current education system into something altogether more equitable.

Despite the importance of this issue, there are still stories which are not receiving the publicity they both deserve, and in fact need. Last week, more than 340,000 learners received their vocational and technical qualification results, alongside around 200,000 students who received their A Levels. Evidently, technical and vocational qualifications make up a huge proportion of the number of results given, but they receive a disproportionately low amount of coverage.

This isn’t a new issue. Vocational qualifications are consistently undervalued in the national media. But in a year in which trust in the current academic system is at a major ebb, vocational and technical qualifications have remained stable and reliable. In addition to the robustly quality assured Teacher Assessed Grades, many learners continued to complete their courses (with slightly adapted delivery and assessment methods) throughout the full year and move into jobs. In fact, at NCFE, we certificated around 380,000 learners in the 2020-21 session but only around 60,000 of these were awarded through a Teacher Assessed Grade.

Of course, the pandemic has had an impact, but it would be remiss not to highlight the positive progression routes apprenticeships, and other vocational training routes, have provided during an unprecedented period. For quite some time now, everyone in the sector has been saying that we need to step away from a fixation on university as the only viable route for learners. Many people look back on the New Labour government as architects of this phenomenon, but in reality, it goes back much further. University has always been positioned as aspirational, as the only way to break free from your class and enter high-paid, high-profile careers. Not only is this view deeply condescending to those following technical and vocational routes, but it’s fundamentally incorrect.

And while we all can continue to be justifiably frustrated at this state of affairs, the best way to dispel this myth is to ensure that we are continually promoting and encouraging excellence in our system. There’s already so much to celebrate. NCFE is firmly aware of the exceptional work underway thanks to our first-hand, daily experience of working with colleges, educators, and learners, but the system requires holistic support to foster the cultural change which is required.

High-quality learning experiences build confidence, self-esteem and enable people to be the best they can be. Central to great learning experiences are great educators, and for technical education to get the credit it deserves – and more broadly, for the UK to be competitive on a global scale – we know that we need more truly world-class educators in our technical education and skills system.

For our part, that’s why we have invested in the WorldSkills Centre of Excellence - working directly with educators so that they become artful and inspiring world-class teaching practitioners, ultimately driving systemic change within colleges and training providers. As this programme heads into its second year, I am excited to see its impact continue to grow in positive, transformative ways, by empowering more teachers and inspiring more learners.

As apprenticeships are climbing the political agenda, now is the time to positively shape public perception of vocational education. Learning has the potential to be the ‘great leveller’, creating a fairer and more inclusive society through the power of education. But central to this vision is a fair choice between educational routes. Hard work should be celebrated, rewarded, and highlighted regardless of whether it takes place in a Sixth Form, FE College, university, or shop floor. There are an endless variety of stories for us to share, if only we’re brave enough to back them.

By David Gallagher, CEO for NCFE

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

Since the call here seems to include Mind the Quality,
in which ways should quality be defined and...

Abertay has published a new article: How do I qualify as a First Aid Trainer? 12 hours 29 minutes ago
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 12 hours 34 minutes ago

The latest podcasts from FE News for 10/16/2021 - https://t.co/Hyjo6M7BQX
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