From education to employment

Stormy Waters Ahead? Or Smooth Sailing?

The week ahead has been much anticipated, and at the end of the build up it seems that the anticipation will be rewarded.

The Further Education sector, as with any public sector, often seems to coalesce developments and outpourings at the same time as a conference is in the diary. It will surprise no ““ one, then, that the Association of Colleges (AoC) conference in Birmingham next week will see hundreds from across the FE rainbow gather for what is expected to be momentous news in one way or another.

The Future

Or will it be momentous? That is the question! Aside from the option of locating a carnival and crossing a fortune ““ teller’s palm with silver (or given today’s obsession with debt, a credit card, if they will accept it) in exchange for seeing the future, it is impossible to predict. Will the long ““ awaited Foster Review, published on Tuesday, shake the sector to its very roots? Will he advocate more, or less funding? How will he answer his own ten questions? Who will like it? More to the point, as on this dimensional plane you cannot please all the people all the time, who will it annoy?

One wonderful feature of this Review is that truly no ““ one seems to know what it will say! One senior stakeholder, talking to FE News all the way back in the sun ““ drenched summer which has now sadly departed, said that everyone within FE was as much in the dark as he had seen them for any previous Review. So if for no other reason, the Foster Review is causing some bated breath and sleepless nights through that feline assassin, curiosity.

Who Will Be Louder?

But if anyone is under the impression that that will mark the end of proceedings in the Midlands, then they should think again. On Wednesday, at the same time as the Secretary of State for Education Ruth Kelly MP responds to the Foster Review and speaks to the delegates at the AoC Conference, approximately one thousand lecturers from FE Colleges nationwide will be standing outside protesting over what they see as unfair pay deals.

This notion brings to mind the curious thought that some of the Principals from the colleges from whence the lecturers will be drawn may be seated inside the hall during the NATFHE ““ organised protest, leafleting and rally. What will happen if they meet? Will there be a cordial exchange of pleasantries and a courteous comment regarding the state of the weather? Or will it descend into a shouting match, to see who is louder than whom?

In addition, Sir Sandy Leitch will be discussing his review of the skills that the British economy will require in the year 2020. All in all, this is a week that must be observed closely ““ and with FE News, you get a ring side seat!

Jethro Marsh

Keep up to date with Foster, the AoC and all of FE here at FE News!

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