In this week’s TES Further, Rob Peutrell, an Esol teacher from Nottingham, ponders whether communities should help shape the structure of merging FE colleges. He writes that area reviews need to be a truly democratic process (article free for subscribers). Alongside government and educational professions, communities should also be involved in deciding which educational purposes and systems are right for them.
Reflecting on plans to merge two Nottingham colleges, which were put out to public consultation, he writes: "We question the purpose of consultation given that the decision is a 'done deal'; the values and mission of the proposed college are already set out in the document. We say that this top-down approach typifies the way in which small groups decide on the education system that others – teachers, students and the wider community – work in or use."
A curriculum determined by the wants of employers reflects a crude idea of FE, he argues, especially when community development and cultural enrichment are integral to the sector.
TES reporter Julia Belgutay reveals the findings of an exclusive Association of Colleges survey in partnership with TES. The survey, in which a third of English college principals took part, reveals that one third of all colleges expect to make compulsory redundancies in the next 12 months – and one in five English colleges is budgeting to operate a deficit this year.
The UK's oldest apprentices
FE reporter Will Martin has been on the hunt for the UK’s oldest apprentices. He tracks down Robert Brown, a 67-year-old former police sergeant who has discovered a new lease of life since studying towards a level 2 apprenticeship in funeral operations and services. While few would question the value of workers of all ages developing their skills, there are some in the FE sector who see little value for money in training over-60s who may not use their qualifications.
FErret has been busy tackling the subject of sixth-form college academy conversion this week (article free for subscribers). Last week TES revealed that an unforeseen loophole could end up costing some colleges far more in VAT than they would expect to save by making the transition. But now it transpires that there are even more complications for Catholic sixth-form colleges. Nothing's ever straightforward, eh?
All right, guv'nor?
College governing bodies are under increasing pressure in this time of major upheaval, writes Richard Bradford, a governor at Worthing College – but help is at hand from within the sector. Richard offers his top tips on how to be a great governor, and shares his thoughts on how to increase the diversity of governing bodies to better reflect the make-up of their respective colleges.
Carolyn O’Connor, a teacher at Blackpool and the Fylde College, writes that colleges can do more for learners with SEND. She says that people can be cruel to others who seem different, and that FE teachers need to nip negative attitudes to SEND learners in the bud in order to make the students' induction into FE as seamless as possible.
Meanwhile, TES columnist Sarah Simons talks about the joys of classroom observations. She says that a peep at your practice doesn’t represent its daily ebb and flow, but that doesn’t mean observations are devoid of value. She sees them as a personal mentoring session with someone who is trying to help improve her performance – and for that she is truly grateful.
All this and much, much more in this week’s TES Further.
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