Joel Petrie, who manages dyslexia and language support at the City of Liverpool College, writes:
That Frank Coffield’s favourite film is High Noon is instructive: the classic Western highlights civic responsibility and champions community, moral principles and democracy.
Coffield’s research, teaching, public speaking, writing and advocacy for the FE sector have embodied these qualities. He officially retired in 2007, but has continued to work with astonishing zeal as a prolific author, speaker and agent of change.
Part of Coffield’s unique contribution is his significance and impact across the whole sector on teachers, middle managers, principals, trade unionists, academics and sector leaders. He has been described as the conscience of the post-16 sector, reminding FE of its purpose while advocating for sound pedagogy rooted in democratic values.
Coffield’s many pivotal publications have consistently challenged orthodoxy. For example, his demolition of learning styles as a credible, evidence-based approach and his celebrated speech to the Association of Colleges annual conference in which he castigated the foregrounding of finance, businesses and estates at the expense of teaching and learning.
He subsequently extended this argument in the seminal 2008 Learning and Skills Network publication Just Suppose Teaching and Learning Became the first Priority…, arguably the text that has had most impact on FE practitioners since incorporation. We have been privileged to have in Coffield such a passionate educator and committed public intellectual.