Few words describe the current climate colleges find themselves in as accurately as the word “uncertain”.
It is far too early to say what the result of last week’s general election will mean for FE, and it’s difficult to anticipate how the loss of the Conservative majority – and the change in skills minister – will affect reforms in the sector.
And there is also continued uncertainty over what impact Brexit, whichever form it will now take, will have on the skills needs of the nation. Add to that the uncertain longer term impact of area reviews, along with questions over what impact other changes to the education and skills system – such as the introduction of the apprenticeship levy or the Teaching Excellence Framework – will have.
One fundamental uncertainty very much at the heart of FE, however, is that of what it actually is students are being prepared for. The economy and its needs are ever-changing, and to make sure college teachers are as well-equipped as possible to get learners ready for that, continuous professional development is absolutely key.
Today, however, we reveal that 60 per cent of college teachers do not engage in any CPD. In tight financial times, changing this will be difficult. But for FE to stay on the cutting edge, colleges will need to find a way to make sure their teachers remain the best they can be.
For the sector to ensure it is integral to the economy, FE needs to keep evolving – and its teachers do, too.