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Distorted vision of the FE sector

I was interested to read the New Year message from the chief inspector of schools on the Ofsted website, but bitterly disappointed that the whole of further education sector is again invisible to those with tunnel vision and a school mindset.

We used to be known as the "Cinderella service", but now it seems that we have become a completely invisible part of the education and training services in the UK, despite the fact that we work with significant numbers of 14 to 16-year-old learners and far more 16 to 18-year-olds than are catered for in school sixth forms.

Also, the input FE has with employers throughout the UK is significant.

Hence, David Bell's latest criticism of further education, when he claims that it is not fit to provide the vocational teaching for 14 to 16-year-olds and that new vocational schools are called for, is yet another ill-informed outburst from someone who might have known better if he had done his homework.

When will this Government acknowledge the work of this much-maligned, extremely diverse, under-funded and largely mismanaged sector?

Will Ruth Kelly, the new Secretary of State, rise to the challenge? Maybe she won't even see it.

Kate Bacon FE lecturer in post-16 teacher education, early years, playwork, social science and social care 7 Laurel Crescent Keighley West Yorkshire

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