Coronavirus: 40 colleges had calls from commissioner

FE commissioner's team has spoken to '30 to 40' colleges about online learning during lockdown

Kate Parker

'Public FE commissioner reports berate leaders'

The FE commissioner's team has completed "dozens" of virtual visits to colleges and had 30 to 40 telephone calls with others about the quality of online learning offered during lockdown, FE commissioner Richard Atkins has said.

Speaking in front of the House of Commons Education Select Committee this morning, Mr Atkins said that the "speed" that colleges switched to online delivery was "remarkable and terrific" but that the quality would be "inevitably mixed".

He said: "I would say that we made by the dozen online visits, we then had at least another 30 or 40 individual telephone calls or online conversations with colleges, principals or chairs to give advice.

"For the majority of colleges we've worked with and the majority of principals I've spoken to, the majority of the online learning has been excellent. And I've been particularly impressed with the support for vulnerable learners.

"I think [...] quality will inevitably be mixed, in places. We're asking members of staff who may have never been involved in online learning much before to develop lesson plans and deliver lessons. I think it will be mixed." 

News: FE commissioner: 30 to 40 colleges 'at risk'

More: Ofsted visits to be 'collaborative conversations'

Background: Ofsted will review online teaching and learning in FE

Mr Atkins said that he welcomed Ofsted's review of online learning in further education. The inspectorate has also announced that it will visit schools and colleges from September to "reassure parents, ministers and the public" about how institutions are managing the return to full education.  

Yesterday, Ofsted’s deputy director for FE and skills Paul Joyce told Tes that the visits will be "collaborative visits" different from inspections and will aim to "support the sector". 

It has been confirmed that the FE commissioner's team will resume their intervention work from September, with Atkins telling the committee that he is due to visit a college in August. 

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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