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Dr. Capey on the Future of FE and the Proposed ALI / Ofsted Merger

A number of things are changing in the Further Education landscape. The Foster Review on Further Education, published in November, highlighted the need for colleges to succeed in their mission to transform the skills levels of the nation, with the increasingly competitive global economic climate in mind. Furthermore, the proposed merger of the two FE inspection bodies, Ofsted and the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) continues to be debated.

In this article, Dr. John Capey, the chairman of the Institute of Assessors and Verifiers (IAV), responds to what he sees as the crucial elements of the Foster review and calls for the merger to take place.

Foster Review and FE Future

There is no doubt that some colleges are under performing in comparison with the majority of colleges. The main problem is to be sure that the assessment of them and the conclusions drawn are sound. The problem is that the inspection process is not an exact science. At best the process gives us insight into how a particular institution is performing. These insights give an indication of what the operating standards are but it is no stronger than an indication.

We need to be wary of treating inspection as if it measures [absolutely]. It doesn”t. Nevertheless action needs to be taken to help the weaker colleges to improve. Labelling them as “failing colleges” doesn”t help. The most important issues are to do with identifying the reasons why a particular college is not doing so well when compared to those who appear to be performing better. Once we know the reasons we have a chance of identifying the appropriate improvement strategy.

Does the Foster review really do this? This is the important question. FE colleges have a very difficult an unenviable job to do. They are there, for the most part, to pick up the pieces following failure with the compulsory phases in education. Often low attaining students are suddenly expected to perform well because of the job FE colleges are expected to do. FE is expected to be “all things to all men”. This is a very daunting remit. It is no wonder some don”t do too well.

Merging the Inspectorates

They should be merged as quickly as possible. There is no case for two inspectorates! The ALI argument the work based training is different is erroneous. All education and training is about outcomes no matter how these are expressed. It is absolute nonsense to be wasting time finding common accords between the two inspectorates in order to avoid unexplainable differences in judgements.

One inspectorate working to common standards, with common procedures and reporting mechanisms is the only logical way forward and would be much more cost effective.

All of us here at FE News would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Capey for sharing his thoughts with us and our readers, and wish him well for the future.

Read Dr. Capey on pay levels in FE right here at FE news!

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