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Team spirit not vested interests

Wales's new further education funding body must run on teamwork rather than representing vested interests, warns John Andrews, outgoing head of the Further and Higher Education Funding Councils for Wales.

He retires on May 14, after eight years as chief executive. His successor is Steve Martin, former director of the Welsh Office education department.

Professor Andrews praises the coming reforms, saying: "I've no doubts about the rightness of the move forward."

But he emphasises that all sectors in post-16 education and training must be fairly represented. "I think it's vital that the people who come on to the CETW (the new Welsh National Council for Education and Training) work as a team wanting to see success across the piece, that we don't have a tugging towards schools or FE or business interests, but everybody working for the success of each of the sectors.

"I'm confident that the Assembly will be looking for a balanced body, but above all people who want to see the CETW work - team players rather than people who come with vested interests."

He says he has een colleges in Wales develop well as a sector, with closer collaboration than those over the border. "You're talking about 28 colleges where the principals all know each other." This bodes well for the coming shake-up, he says, but it is a closeness that must be extended to sixth forms. "One of the major opportunities is to achieve with school sixth forms the sense of partnership and collaboration of common endeavour which we've got with the colleges. I think there are super opportunities there to enrich the experiences of the post-16 generation."

As he prepares to leave his office for the last time in May, he says: "If I look back, we've achieved a tremendous amount over the past eight years - far more than I thought posssible. In part that's a tribute to my colleagues in the funding councils, but also to the work the institutions have put in.

"The new challenge of the Education and Training Action Plan is something which is going to continue to bring the best out of the institutions. I'm very optimistic about the future of further and higher education in Wales."

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