In this week’s TES Further: Why the UK should follow's Austria's lead on FE

3rd June 2016 at 16:43
David Harbourne retirement TES Further roundup
Also: getting off the Trump train, and how to make the most of lesson observations

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In this week’s TES Further, David Harbourne, director of policy and research at the Edge Foundation, bids a fond farewell to the sector, before he pops off to pen a book (about technical and vocational education, obviously). He writes that it is about time that vocational education was prized in Britain (article free for subscribers) as it is in Austria. He says that during a recent trip there he attended a höhere technische lehranstalt, where both a core curriculum and a technical specialism are taught to large numbers of 14- to 19-year-olds. Many learners progress to well-paid jobs and about half go on to study in higher education institutions, he writes – technical education is "neither second best nor second choice" and leads to rewarding jobs. One day, he hopes, the same might be said about technical education in the UK.

Panama Papers investigation

TES reporter Will Martin has been investigating the curious case of the FE colleges whose names were found in the leaked tranche of tax files exposed in the Panama Papers. Four colleges have denied using offshore investments, despite their names appearing. Independent tax experts say this might have been a case of companies using the colleges’ names to solicit business and gain a financial advantage.

Apprenticeship anxiety

FE editor Stephen Exley reflects on the concept of craftmanship, and why cultivating pride in one's work is a crucial part of apprenticeships. Meanwhile, Christine Hodgson, chair of the Careers and Enterprise Company, says that the word on apprenticeships needs to be spread (article free for subscribers). She writes that if the oft-quoted 3 million target is to be reached, a step-change in the way that apprenticeships are viewed by young people is crucial – as highlighted by the recent Association of Colleges survey in partnership with TES.


This week, FErret (article free for subscribers) has learned that Ofsted has deemed it necessary to clarify the nature of the “factual accuracy check” of inspection reports, which providers are allowed to carry out before publication. The watchdog explains that providers are allowed to query spellings, dates and facts – but the process is certainly not for “challenging the judgements in the inspection report or raising concerns about conduct”. Yikes. FErret also investigates the "restructuring facility" funding available to support the area reviews.

Meanwhile, Graham Fowler offers his top tips on how to get the most out of lesson observations (article free for subscribers). These include separating development from appraisals, letting the observed choose the observer, and focusing on a specific problem. 

Trump card

Sasha Pleasance – an FE teacher educator, founding member of Tutor Voices and recently published author – writes that the drive by Ofsted for greater “resilience” (article free for subscribers) is just another way to blame teachers. She would rather see senior leaders in the sector "challenging unrealistic diktats form above, tackling unnecessary workloads and creating more supportive working environments".

Finally, TES columnist Sarah Simons faces up to the fact that she can no longer ignore Donald Trump. She says it is hard, while teaching a lesson on equality, to discuss Trump's views. She writes: “As the US election powers on, it leaves me baffled as to how I should communicate his popularity to my learners without frightening them – and without showing that I am frightened, too."

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

TES Further FErret Panama Papers colleges

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