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Charlotte group hit by apathy

I have been avidly reading the articles in The TES regarding the Charlotte group over the past few weeks. I have been a little disappointed by the initial response. This week's articles from Nadine Cartner and David Forrester will hopefully open up the debate.

All providers acknowledge that they are dissatisfied to some degree with something in FE. The question is what are we going to do about this? We can continue to gripe or do something positive.

I agree with Ms Cartner that it is time we used our collective intelligence to influence those who make the decisions which affect us.

The Charlotte group has asked for all providers to get involved and give their opinions about what its visions and goals should be. But what have we done in response? How many managers from providers have taken the time to share the Charlotte group's concord with their teams or given the group their opinions.

The dedicated professionals in the sector deserve a voice, but before that voice can be heard we need to know what we want to say.

Do you think that we should have some professional self-regulation with clear standards or a charter where continuous improvement forms the bedrock of our vision? Should we fight to make the Learning and Skills Council accountable, as we are to the Adult Learning Inspectorate and Ofsted? Should new initiatives be allowed to become embedded before another initiative comes along? Should we fight for medium and long-term funding agreements where transparency and honesty are demanded.

Do we value our workforce? Do you think that the number of tutors who are qualified and have left the industry is shameful? Do we want to address the issue of attracting and retaining staff?

Do we want more professional development grants for staff? Do we think that "national" should mean national? Employers do not stop developing their businesses and employees at the borders of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I know many dedicated people in FE who have spent years helping to develop others. I also know that almost everyone I have met in my 10 years in the sector is passionate about what they do.

The odd thing is, that now the Charlotte group offers a chance to have a voice and share our passion and concerns, we seem to have apathy, not empathy.

Phillip Bailey The Training Partnership Beechfields, Queens Road Penkhull, Stoke on Trent

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