When Sally Taylor (right) joined the first programme run by the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL), she expected to feel like the odd one out.
Ms Taylor, a director at Mercia Partnership and a private trainer, is the only candidate on the senior leadership programme not from FE .
Mercia has been offering adult and work-based learning around Knowsley near Liverpool for five years and has an annual turnover of about pound;1 million. Her place on the programme was subsidised by Greater Merseyside learning and skills council.
So far she has been pleasantly surprised to find that she can take part in discussions. "A lot of it was geared to FE, but leadership is generic," she says. "The same concept applies to any organisation, whether it is an FE college with an annual turnover of pound;30m or a company turning over one-thirtieth of that."
The programme has already helped her to become a more strategic leader, rather than one who reacts to events as they arise. "It's about stepping back and taking a bigger look at what's going on," she says.
She believes programmes offered by the CEL will help to improve links between colleges and companies such as Mercia, thus allowing the learning and skills sector to build on the strengths of different providers.
"Everything seems to be moving in the direction of breaking down barriers between FE and work-based learning," she says.