What does 2020 hold for FE?

I think the sector must be optimistic about the coming year – many promises have been made by the incoming government and our Education Secretary certainly seems to value the importance of technical and vocational education.

Of course, more funding is a given in terms of my wish list (and every other school / college leader too).

Specifically, the election pledge to rebuild the FE estate must be made a priority within the Queen’s Speech. In order to deliver cutting-edge skills training, colleges need the facilities to enable this. 

Technology is moving forward at an astonishing rate. Many traditional trades are changing, with a need for digital expertise in all industries – and we need the resources to deliver this. Put simply, we can’t deliver first rate education in second rate buildings with outdated technology and facilities. 

The FE sector must gain parity of funding with schools – both in terms of capital monies and per pupil.

And more support is clearly needed for high needs (SEND) provision, as highlighted by the Education Select Committee earlier this year. 

I also hope we will start to see the implementation of recommendations from the Augar Review this year – particularly the reversal of the funding reduction for 18 year olds, simplified EFSA funding rules with more flexibility for colleges and a prioritised investment in the FE workforce. 

I look forward to the Independent Commission’s report on the College of the Future.

Asking what we want and need from our colleges in ten years’ time is an interesting question and one that will incite many different views.

For us, continuing our work as a social enterprise is priority. We understand the social value that colleges offer to their local communities – beyond simply equipping people with qualifications.

We are working within a pioneering framework to demonstrate this value and look forward to sharing this more widely. 

Partnerships and collaboration with both other educators and employers will remain key to high quality skills provision. With the potential challenges that Brexit may bring, it is a time to unite and provide an education and skills system that works for learners and businesses alike. 

Dr Sam Parrett OBE, London South East Colleges

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