Dr Paul Phillips, CBE – Principal & Chief Executive, Weston College

I thought I would start my article for the New Year with some basic physics, after all, we are being told to ratchet up our technical agendas! 

Somewhat facetious maybe, but if force is the level of demands being placed upon the sector and area reflects the meagre funding being allocated to Further Education then pressure is indeed great!

The current pressure being put on managers in our sector and the ensuing blame culture that follows an error of judgement is now at an unacceptable level. It is time that intervention took place.

I read only today of an apparent attempt to restrict level 1 funding – do the people making these daft decisions appreciate the importance of level 1 provision and the catalyst it is for certain trades for example Construction, Catering and Administration?

Clearly they don’t and yet again the baby will be thrown out with the bath water if we don’t react!

Anyway it’s New Year so I’ve devised some resolutions for colleges and those who fund us. They are simplistic, but necessary and so in order to avoid any contention these are the resolutions for my college in Weston-super-Mare.

They are (in no particular order):

  • To keep the learner as the focus of all we do
  • To maximise the progress of our learners
  • To keep all the plates spinning at the same time
  • To hit financial targets and to fathom out how to break even with apprenticeships
  • To reward staff who go above and beyond (the majority of my staff)
  • To stop attending ‘waffle’ meetings which can dominate a week
  • To cut down on the number of occasions I let my family down due to prioritising the College.

Equally, my hopeful, entrepreneurial and positive resolutions for Government are:

  • To understand the part that FE plays in our education system and its intrinsic value
  • To understand the needs of our learners and to appropriately reward them via sensible and realistic funding
  • To ensure an open and transparent funding formula for all sectors of education including HE
  • To stop changing their mind on funding of apprenticeships so that funding remains consistent not slashed mid term
  • To decide if FE is public sector or private sector and to then treat us accordingly. Not with one hand tied behind our back.
  • To allow the creation of seamless partnership between different sectors of education without developing another level of bureaucracy.Pressure is Force divided by Area

So let me return to a bit of basic maths for you all: 


In FE where Force = level of demands and Area = funding, how does one reduce pressure?

The answer is you could reduce the Force (demands) or increase the Area (funding) or perhaps a sensible combination of the two?

Have I lost you, I hope not, but hopefully food for thought for those able to influence our brilliant sector.

Finally talking about our brilliant sector, congratulations to those who featured in the New Year Honours all of whom give so much to our sector.

Dr Paul Phillips, CBE – Principal & Chief Executive, Weston College

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