From education to employment

NUS’s Ellie Russell on the FE Year of 2005

The National Union of Students (NUS) represents the rights of FE students across the country, and this has been a particularly active year. FE News is delighted that Ellie Russell, Vice President of FE for the NUS, was willing to talk to us about FE in 2005.


Question: “What was the most significant development for FE in your opinion in 2005?”

Ellie Russell: “We at NUS were delighted with the Foster Review and its emphasis on the Learner Voice. Students in the Further Education sector have been battling for many years to get their voices heard, held back by wary corporations, poor governance structures and a lack of communication channels. The Foster Review has put the learner voice back on the agenda and we look forward to colleges putting his recommendations into practice.”

Question: “What was the area of FE that you feel has been neglected this year?”

Ellie Russell: “Curriculum reform along the lines of Tomlinson proposals. Like most in the sector, we were totally disappointed with the government’s cherry picking of the excellent Tomlinson proposals for 14-19 curriculum reform. In his recommendations, Tomlinson presented a real opportunity to reform an old fashioned education system for 14-19 year olds and to challenge the academic/vocational divide which stops so many young people pursuing education to the furthest of their ability.

“They missed a momentous opportunity to address head on the UK’s poor staying-on rates and to genuinely improve access to education simply because they were running scared of upsetting the status quo ahead of May’s General Election. With our partners in the FE sector we will continue to campaign for curriculum reform and hope the government will revisit Tomlinson.”

Question: “What has been your proudest moment of the year?”

Ellie Russell: “In April, I became the first Vice President Further Education to be elected at NUS Annual Conference by students from the Further Education sector alone. This gave me a really strong mandate to tackle head on the many issues facing FE students. I was really proud to see a record number of students submitting motions to be discussed at our annual conference this year and look forward to taking further steps to ensure Further Education students can finally feel a valued and active part of their National Union.”

Question: “What was the funniest memory from FE ““ work or otherwise – from this year?”

Ellie Russell: “When Mark Haysom at the AoC Conference said the following: “The Learning and Skills Council will listen to the voice of the learner and then become the voice of the learner.” Until that point we weren”t aware that he was a ventriloquist.”

All of us at FE News would like to thank Ellie for her time and insight, and wish her all the best for the holiday season and the new year.

Jethro Marsh

Read the NUS’s view for 2006 right here at FE News!

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