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Creativity and Innovation Day – How Can FE Keep Moving Forward As A Sector

Mark Dawe, the Skills Network

Mark Dawe, CEO of The Skills Network, discusses how the FE sector should continue embracing technology and developing new ways of working to deliver better outcomes for students.

The Importance of Innovation in Online Education

As CEO of one of the largest online education and skills providers in the UK, it’s always a great privilege as well as a responsibility to be able to be at the forefront of developing new ideas and technologies that can help take learners to the next level in their learning journey.

Celebrating Creativity and Innovation Day

As we mark Creativity and Innovation Day this week (21st April), it’s a really good opportunity for the FE sector to reflect on the progress we have made so far, but also focus on how we better embrace the technologies of tomorrow which can open up new avenues for learning and research.

The Skills Network’s Commitment to Continuous Improvement

As a cutting-edge technology provider, The Skills Network has always been aware that we can’t afford to stand still. Practices and technology that worked well for the last 5 years are not necessarily going to deliver outstanding results for the next 5 years – we need to keep our ear to the ground and have an attitude of continuous improvement, if we are going to keep pushing the boundaries on what is possible, achievable and sustainable in the sector.

Building a Reputation for Delivery in a Regulated Sector

Since our inception in 2009, our success has been underpinned by market-leading technology – alongside being a leading EdTech company that understands training, skills and pedagogy – we have built a reputation for delivery in a heavily regulated sector.

Balancing Quality Improvement and Technological Leaps

Getting the balance right between improving quality through incremental change and making leaps of discovery through channelling new technology, carries with it a fair amount of risk. However it has always been our philosophy to empower our staff in decision-making and encourage entrepreneurialism to drive growth with a different way of thinking. We are also results driven, focusing on best practice that will empower and deliver positive outcomes.

Securing a Good Rating from Ofsted

From our end-to-end learning and development solutions, through to our processes driven by the latest technologies, we have created a business that hopefully shouts excellence. We are very proud to have recently secured a Good rating from Ofsted, which recognised that we consistently deliver high quality online resources alongside our commitment to always put the needs of the learner first in everything we do.

Establishing New Conversations in Education and Skills Sectors

To expertly combine quality skills delivery and technical expertise, whilst delivering a wide range of specialist support, isn’t easy and we are always looking to establish new conversations in the education and skills sectors that can take learning to the next level through partnership working. Moving together in partnership, sharing the vision of growing achievement, is exciting in an ever-changing environment.

Supporting Other Providers and Colleges

We are proud of the role we play in the FE sector supporting other providers and colleges to deliver excellent services, where in the last 18 months we have been a part of 3 Outstanding ratings and 10 with Good for adult delivery. A lot of that has been built upon technical expertise, our access to fresh thinking and our ability to spot opportunities to grow together.

Harnessing Creative Potential through Innovative Solutions

Whether we are delivering groundbreaking online courses and resources through our innovative Equal learning platform; giving students access to top assessors and tutors; or simply offering high quality Learning Support Assistants to help navigate learning, we must always see the creative potential that can be harnessed.

Adapting to Changing Priorities and Projects

Also it’s not just technical expertise that is important, there needs to be an element of creativity in the vision of the sector, adapting to the latest priorities and projects of whoever is in Government.

Becoming a Go-To Specialist in Skills Bootcamps

Over the last two years or so, we have established ourselves as one of the largest providers of Skills Bootcamps in the country and are now seen by many in the sector as a real go-to specialist. That wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t been willing to lean into the changing priorities of those decision-makers deciding where new funding needs to be spent to help meet the growing skills shortages that exist within some communities and sectors.

Looking Forward to Meet Changing Needs

The FE sector doesn’t exist in a vacuum, we should always be looking forward so we can spot the changing needs that exist across the UK and use the latest technology which can help fill that gap, particularly for those most in need.

By Mark Dawe, CEO of The Skills Network

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