A new campaign to introduce MPs to their local FE colleges will be launched tomorrow by the National Education Union (NEU).
The "EFFECTIVE EDUCATION: securing skills for a post-Brexit future" campaign, which already has one MP signed up to it, will introduce politicians from a range of educational backgrounds to the staff and students of post-16 institutions up and down the country.
It is hoped that the campaign will "remind" MPs of FE's role in their constituencies. It comes after the super-union – which was formed on 1 September, after the merger of ATL and NUT education unions – announced on Twitter that it intended to become “the professional and persuasive voice for post-16 education”.
On Friday hundreds of letters will be sent out to MPs. Currently Dame Rosie Winterton, the member of Parliament for Doncaster Central, has agreed to visit her local Doncaster College.
“Many of [the MPs] will have gone straight from school to university and they won’t have any sort of personal experience. Not all MPs, by any means, but many of them won’t have,” said Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of NEU. “So we want them to understand that a bit better.”
She added: “I think it’s providing that opportunity and reminding MPs [about their FE colleges]. Obviously, they’ve got a lot of different things to think about, and very busy schedules, so it’s just reminding them and giving them the opportunity to speak with our members, really."
'It's about raising awareness of FE colleges'
When asked if it was hoped the EFFECTIVE EDUCATION campaign would increase dialogue around FE, Dr Bousted said: “That’s the aim, exactly. It’s about raising awareness and then making sure that [if MPs] have any concerns that they can shape policy where necessary. They can ask the right questions and think about how Brexit might impact on the skills agenda".
According to Dr Bousted, the campaign comes as the union plans to “expand its post-16 membership”. She said: “The NEU offers post-16 members the opportunity to join the largest education union in the country. We are unique in being a union with membership across all education sectors. This enables us to understand the entire educational journey made by young people, and the impact government policy for schools has on the post-16 sector and vice versa.”
A spokesman for the University and College Union (UCU) said: "UCU is the largest post-16 education trade union in the world, itself borne from a successful merger. We have no doubt we will enjoy a positive relationship with the NEU given that their overwhelmingly school and sixth-form based membership so neatly complements."