From education to employment

Clearer definitions enable sector to work collectively

The FE sector needs an established set of standards for self-regulation to protect the interests of participants, according to a leading college principal.

Speaking at the annual Association of Learning Providers (ALP) conference in London last week, Sir George Sweeney, Knowsley Community College, said: “What self regulation is about is how do we produce a better system for the consumer of that system, whether it’s an individual, employer, parent, community or economy?

“In order to do this, we”ll collectively in the sector have to be clear about our own values,” he added. “What do we think is important? We need a common set of values that all agree on, that we”ll sign up to, to protect the interests of users of a regulated system, and provide clear standards of probity, propriety, professionalism and leadership.”

The Secretary of State, Alan Johnson, first challenged the sector to take self-regulation forward as it was set out in the FE Reform White Paper, at the AoC annual conference, last November. Since then, the Self Regulation Implementation Group has been identifying regulatory type functions for which the sector can assume responsibility, and it is now in its second phase.

Graham Hoyle, Chief Executive, ALP, agreed that self-regulation was a major theme of the conference. “[It’s] stock full of threats and opportunities,” he said. “There is a real threat of a cosy cartel. External agencies are doing us good and there’s real opportunity there, but the definition of self-regulation hasn”t really been spelt out – finance, probity, and so on, it covers all that.

“It’s important to set up some kind of entity,” he continued, “We have got to enforce the design, we can”t ignore it or fight it.”

In his keynote address at the conference, Bill Rammell MP commented: “Self-regulation is also vital [“¦] and I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to continue close involvement to make sure the future self regulating system is truly inclusive.”

Annabel Hardy

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