According to Our Plan for FE, a report published by the @ukEdge today, 21st April 2020, Further Education (FE) has a golden opportunity to secure a key role in the country’s future. Against a backdrop of a changing economy, growing skills shortages, Brexit and now the corona crisis, the FE sector urgently needs to define a clear and positive way forward following a period of policy confusion and inconsistency. Now is the time for this to happen.

Edge’s report suggests that with a lack of stability in both policy and funding, the FE sector has struggled to dictate the direction of its own future. Its high time colleges and learning providers receive some attention, investment and backing from the government but this is not enough.

Neil Bates, Chair, Edge Foundation said,

“Ministers publicly recognise the critical role that Further Education plays in our local communities and in providing the technical and occupational skills needed by business to compete in an increasingly global economy. In the past the rhetoric has not been matched by a proper investment in the sector. In a post pandemic, post Brexit world, our education and skills system will be at the front line of social and economic recovery. We will need our colleges and learning providers more than ever and we need to invest in them, empower and trust them and replace over regulation with a commitment to a shared national mission.”

Edge suggest a new deal is needed based on a fresh vision for FE that has a clear and renewed purpose. The FE sector should be at the centre of our economic plan, delivering the high quality technicians who will power future economic growth.

The report includes contributions from academics and stakeholders across the FE sector and across the four nations. It includes case studies from colleges that are already successfully delivering innovative practise across the UK.

There have been diverging policy and funding reforms across the four nations of the UK that England can learn from, such as the more managed approach in Scotland, and colleges as arm’s length bodies in Northern Ireland and increasingly Wales too. Meanwhile the smaller islands reinforce the opportunities for colleges to play an anchor role and show what can be achieved where they are given more freedom to do so.

Key points from the report:

  • A continuous decline in funding both 16-18 and post-18 has caused significant challenges for the FE sector:
  • Colleges are facing a staff recruitment and retention crisis reinforced by the increased marketisation of the sector;
  • There are no prescribed levels of education qualification or professional status required to teach in further education in England creating uncertainty about appropriate and sufficient staff requirements;
  • The breadth of provision offered alongside a stretched workforce often means FE providers take on more than they have the capacity to handle;
  • Class sizes have increased and learning hours per student decreased to compensate for cuts in funding.
  • Mergers have attempted to respond to funding and governance challenges across the sector, but the emerging evidence to date suggests this had limited success.
  • Colleges should focus on collaboration, forming collaborative groupings across geographical regions, specialisms and leading local education groups while bringing together other providers including schools and higher education institutions.

Further research is desperately needed. Edge support the Social Mobility Commission’s call for a What Works Centre for FE which recommends that government should invest £20 million over five years to help establish the evidence and research led centre.

Response from the sector

David Hughes Chief Executive, Association of Colleges comments:

“Today’s report from The Edge Foundation is an important contribution to the sector and colleges, the FE sector educates and trains more than 2.2 million young people and adults in skills vital to the future of the economy. Their work is even more important than ever, given the uncertainty we all face as the world battles against coronavirus. Colleges have always played a vital civic role alongside their teaching and training, but the current crisis has highlighted this other role they serve, that often goes unnoticed.

The recommendations set out a clear and useful way forward for a reinvigorated system. One that would allow colleges to be at the forefront of their communities and able to deliver the strong economy and thriving communities that the country will need as we look to the future after the crisis is over.”

Lewis Cooper, Director of the Independent Commission on the College of the Future said: 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the role of colleges is more critical than ever in mitigating the challenges that people, employers and communities face. Colleges across the UK are working in innovative ways to sustain learning, help vulnerable people, and support the NHS. And so it is more important than ever to ensure that we have education and skills systems across the four nations that empower colleges to continue to transform lives in every community.

“Through their response to the pandemic, colleges have shown they are a critical part of the national infrastructure. This is an important starting point for our work. As the Commission reflects on what we can learn during this time, we are working to make clear recommendations later this year as we together create a system where colleges are truly at the heart of public policy across the UK.”

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Peter has published a new article: EDHEC and EURECOM Sign Strategic Alliance 1 hour 33 minutes ago
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 20 hours 38 minutes ago

Women Empowerment: How Far Have We Come in Recent Years?: Here in the UK, the past year has been difficult for ever… https://t.co/TTsstqnyOy
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 May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 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.

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