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BIS plans for a Further Education Guild

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has produced a prospectus outlining plans to create a guild for Further Education.

This means that if plans go ahead the FE guild will have more control over how the curriculum for Further Education is organised. It will also mean that the skills sector will have a say on the curriculum, basing their decisions on the demand for certain skills that will dictate the tone of FE. As a result, vocational training will take a front seat in order to fill the current skills gap.

Lynne Sedgmore, executive director of the 157 Group college association, believes the move will mean those working within the sector, such as the experts and teachers, will have more control, as they will make up the main body of the guild.

“The quest for excellence will be driven by the sector itself, by expert teachers, trainers and leaders, not by Whitehall,” said Sedgmore.

Because of the increased focus on vocational training, it is hoped the curriculum will gain a better reputation through an improved support system and relative longevity.

Sedgemore said: “This offers an excellent opportunity for us to help reshape the FE landscape and raise the profile of vocational education, which is so crucial to our economic prosperity and social well-being.”

These are, however, only early plans for a guild, and it is not yet certain if the government will relinquish control of FE. The share of power between guild and government has not been measured, and the guild may experience problems instigating all the changes it wishes to make, hindering the development of FE.

Marilyn Hawkins, 157 Group’s chair, said that the guild could prompt a drastic change in the FE and economic landscape, “in terms of professionalising the workforce and driving up standards, for the benefit of learners and employers”, which will hopefully address the nation’s needs, allowing a new generation to be skilled specifically to assist and benefit from the UK economy.

Daisy Atkinson

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