David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, says that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is right to focus on the importance of lifelong learning.
“Education is, and always will be, about growth, development and opportunity. This is why colleges are so vital – they are social and community assets, delivering education and training to people of all ages, boosting productivity, strengthening the economy and enabling social mobility,” says Hughes.
He adds that Corbyn’s speech at the AoC annual conference also opened up the debate about colleges’ accountability and how they work as anchor institutions in their localities with local authorities, employers and other parts of civil society. “I am looking forward to considering this with colleges and taking up the offer from Jeremy Corbyn of discussing how this might work,” he says.
According to Hughes, Alastair Campbell – Tony Blair’s Downing Street press secretary, who also addressed the conference – is right that colleges need to be more vocal: “Being clear and proud about what colleges do for people, communities and employers; being clear about the impact of that and acting collectively to make the case for greater respect and investment. This is a responsibility for both colleges and the AoC and an opportunity we cannot afford to miss,” says the chief executive.
Tes was a supporting media partner at this year’s AoC conference.