Be less partisan about those who support an independent AFC

7th April 1995 at 01:00
Having read Nick Lewis and Tony Pitcher's article (TES, March 24) I re-read my copy of the Association for Colleges' paper "Further Education Colleges: individual autonomy with collective strength, the best way forward".

I can only conclude that they set out to be deliberately misleading; perhaps in the belief that most people will not read the AFC paper. The AFC did not claim "to speak with single voice on behalf of colleges". In fact, the paper was a consultative document asking for members' views. It did not mention the Colleges' Employers' Forum as a rival.

It says much for Tony Pitcher's loyalty to AFC that he should make such misleading statements when he is a council member and clearly knew what the consultative paper said. It suggests that he is determined to wreck the AFC from the inside. It is also noticeable that the article speaks of "the challenge to create mechanisms to improve the way in which principals can articulate the major issues". It suggests that the writers wish to shift the balance between corporations and the college executive. In this south-west area joint chairs' and principals' policy and discussion meetings are held under the sponsorship of the AFC and they work very successfully and co-operatively. Perhaps this is what the writers fear?

In fact the AFC does have the right to speak on behalf of the sector as a whole, apart from employment matters, because it was given that right, at its formation, by a substantial majority of a very large meeting containing both chairs and principals. I was there.

Over the past few months you have left me with the impression that you favour the views of a section of the Association of Principals of Colleges. Isn't it time that you gave equal space to those of us who support an independent AFC and also those principals who do not support the APC line?

S D MASON

Chairman, Board of governors

Weymouth College, Dorset

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