As the Foster Review is published, the Association of Colleges (AoC) welcomed it as a “thoughtful, perceptive and comprehensive” project.
The Review, conducted with openness and consultation at its core, with contributions from across the FE sector, has considered issues raised by the reform agenda for the sector. The Review was brought into operation last November, when Sir Andrew Foster was invited by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, and Chair of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to carry out a review of the future role of FE colleges.
The AoC’s Chief Executive, Dr. John Brennan, is expected to say: “This report is thoughtful, perceptive and comprehensive ““ a reflection of the thorough and wide-ranging review which Sir Andrew has undertaken.
“It is a huge and welcome opportunity for colleges. Sir Andrew has affirmed just how important they are to this country’s young people, adults and businesses. Colleges will welcome an even sharper focus on generating skills for employment, and a closer relationship with employers.” This relates to the finding of the Review that whilst socially motivated education may be important, the focus of the FE sector will need to be upon developing the skills required by the economy to maintain British competitiveness in a global marketplace.
Foster’s Road Ahead
Dr. Brennan also recognises the validity of some of the criticisms that Foster has levelled at colleges, saying: “We also recognise that despite tremendous gains in the last few years, there is more to do on quality and that we need to be even more responsive to our learners and to business. And we are totally committed to doing more for our staff, although Government’s constant demands for more learners at a lower price must impact on the cash we have available to reward them.”
Dr. Brennan also welcomed the recognition of the Foster Review for the problems colleges face, and stated: “But Foster also reflects the frustrations which so many colleges feel about the structures imposed on them, which often hinder rather than help our services to learners. These need to be unequivocally addressed”¦We hope Government for its part will respond quickly and comprehensively to the challenges Foster has put forward in his report. Colleges want their energies freed up to allow them to respond rapidly to the skills revolution ahead.”
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