Tes FE people of the year: The membership organisations

It's been tough for FE staff and students – but, no matter the challenge, membership organisations have had their backs
27th December 2020, 12:00pm
Kate Parker

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Tes FE people of the year: The membership organisations

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/general/tes-fe-people-year-membership-organisations
Coronavirus: Tes Salutes The Hard Work Of Fe Membership Organisations Such As The Association Of Colleges, The Sixth Form Colleges Association, The Association Of Employment & Learning Providers, Holex & Natspec Amid The Coronavirus Crisis This Year

There's no doubt about it: 2020 has been one of the toughest years ever to work in education. When the full effect of Covid-19 hit in March, it set in motion a series of disruptions for staff and students across the world. 

In any other year, the announcements would have seemed bizarre at best and impossible at worst: college sites shut for face-to-face teaching; vocational lessons like cooking, agriculture and beauty therapy taking place virtually; and, of course, exams being cancelled and replaced by centre-calculated grades.

Yes, it has been a trying year for everyone - and often the FE sector collectively groaned in despair as important updates and announcements from the Department of Education came at very short notice, often late in the day, or significantly after the announcements on schools.


Tes FE people of the year: Pete Roberts

Tes FE people of the year: Sam Parrett

Tes FE people of the year: Sandra Thomson


But throughout all of this, there have been those who have had FE's back: its membership organisations.

Coronavirus: The vital support of FE membership organisations

And so, the Association of Colleges, the Sixth Form Colleges Association, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, HOLEX and Natspec, as well as the unions representing staff - the UCU and Unison: here, we pay tribute to you. 

All of the above are no strangers to championing what FE can offer - but this year, they have truly gone above and beyond for their members. 

From tweeting "AND COLLEGES!" daily to launching a legal challenge against the DfE to secure financial support for training providers, they have lobbied MPs, secured support and got the answers the sector desperately needed, not to mention the endless hours they've spent talking to us at Tes, raising awareness of the issues being faced.

As the chaos from the summer exam series unfolded, staff and elected representatives worked tirelessly to make sure FE's voice was heard - and were instrumental in the U-turn on centre-assessed grades. As providers returned to site from September, many with a blended delivery, your membership organisations engaged in conversions right across the sector to ensure that you felt safe and happy doing so. 

And even now, just days before the start of a new year, they are working hard behind the scenes to push for what's best for FE, its staff and its students. Next year won't be easy either: exams and assessment will undoubtedly face disruption, and colleges will need huge support as they move to weekly Covid testing on site. 

But there is one thing we can be sure of: every step of the way, staff right across FE will be backed by the membership organisations that represent them.

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