In this week's TES Further: the FE commissioner and the mafia

11th November 2016 at 18:18
Also: why colleges are turning to the Open University to accredit their degrees

In today’s TES Further: FErret feels that after three years (article free for subscribers) of college interventions and area reviews, the outgoing FE commissioner Sir David Collins could be excused for becoming a little “demob happy”. In his recent and final public appearance, Sir David was certainly outspoken: when asked what should be done to improve the standard of maths in schools, he responded: “Fine them! Transfer the money to FE. That would be a good headline. I am retiring in a week, I don’t care any more.”

And he didn’t finish there, saving his best answer for last. “What has been the single most important barrier you have faced in doing your job over the past two years?” the commissioner was asked. The answer? “The personalities of odd principals and odd chairs of governors. If I had been given a very small – and I asked for it – £10,000 mafia contract, this area review process would have gone quicker and smoother.” 

An open door to HE

TES reporter Julia Belgutay looks at why a growing number of the FE colleges are getting in line to partner up with the Open University to accredit their degrees (article free for subscribers). So far, the organisation has validated HE provision for 12 colleges, with two more deals in the pipeline.

Martin Doel, former chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC) and Further Education Trust for Leadership professorship for further education and skills at the UCL Institute of Education, writes that the FE sector needs to play the long game when it comes to waging war with the government over funding cuts. Like a patient general in an enduring military campaign, the FE sector's “immediate crises are most likely to build towards long-term success".

Re-sitting ducks 

TES FE editor Stephen Exley reveals that college students from the most deprived parts of the country make the least progress in English and maths GCSE resists. Exclusive analysis from the AoC suggests that, on average, college students who had previously achieved a D grade in subjects say their grades drop after resits. And the decrease was most pronounced among students from the poorest parts of the country.

Meanwhile new research by Policy Exchange warns that up to a third of new apprenticeship programmes are ‘not fit for purpose’ and that £500m is spent on programmes that falls short of expected quality levels. Jonathan Simons, the thinktank's head of education, comments on the report, and why many apprenticeships are just not good enough.

Bennet on behaviour 

Tom Bennett, chair of the Department for Education’s behaviour group, offers his top tips on how to manage older learners' challenging behaviour (article free for subscribers). From setting out expectations on how you expect the group of learners to perform, to ensuring that the rules of your class are known and stuck to, help is at hand to get older students to act their age.

“Imagine for a few moments that this country seriously wanted a world-class skills system,” writes Andy Forbes, principal of the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, writes. It’s a topsy-turvey world at the moment, and anything is possible. So what if a game-changer like John Major's decision to invest in Olympic sports came to the FE sector to transform its fortunes?"

All this and much, much more in this week’s TES Further.

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