There is a general feeling of gloom in my college. We are not reaching our targets and blame is being passed like a hot potato. Lecturers are criticised for poor teaching, admissions for poor targeting and unrealistic expectations, management for not having a keener overview and so on. It is a mess born of too much pressure and Government interference and the result, as we have seen in other colleges could well result in redundancies. Working under these conditions is eating away at a competent and enthusiastic workforce, me included.
A recent poll showed that 94 per cent of learners are happy with the product they are getting. And yet, no mention of this was made by ministers at the recent Association of Colleges' annual conference. One only has to remember the comments made by John Harwood a few years ago on the Today programme, where he condemned 40 per cent of the sector, as an example of how negative government has been about FE since incorporation. And yet it has had many successes in transforming the post 16 sector and giving thousands of people an opportunity for an education relevant to their needs. What the Education Secretary must realise is there comes a time as a teacher when, whatever the target, you focus on what the student has achieved and praise it, ensuring positive momentum not negative stalemate.
Colleges have had to absorb one initiative after the other for years; but pay has remained at an unacceptable level for many. No more talk of aggressive intervention and closure. I say raise a glass to the sector: it has put up with a lot and done very well!