Kelly to face pay protest
The one-day strike is in protest at a 2.8 per cent pay offer for 200506, which followed negotiations between unions and the AoC.
Natfhe, the lecturers' union, says the offer fails to narrow the pay gap between schoolteachers and college lecturers.
More than 1,200 delegates are expected to attend the conference, with speakers including Stella Rimington, former head of MI5, and Greg Dyke, former director general of the BBC.
One of the most eagerly-awaited speakers will be Sir Andrew Foster, former head of the Audit Commission, who is due to announce the outcome of his review of the role of FE.
John Brennan, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said Sir Andrew's report will begin a historic debate about the purpose of colleges.
He said: "It is the first time the Government has undertaken a serious review of the sector. This is an opportunity to hear the things he has to say.
"This year's conference is going to be the biggest show in town in the FE sector."
David Bell, the chief inspector, is expected to talk tough when he speaks on the Office for Standards in Education's view of colleges' recent progress. Other speakers will include Education Secretary Ruth Kelly on Wednesday - when the Natfhe rally will take place.
Barry Lovejoy, the union's head of colleges, said: "The Government tells us that further education is the 'engine of a successful, dynamic economy', so why does it leave our colleges running on empty?"
Natfhe says the offer does nothing to narrow the pay gap between schools and colleges.
Delegates will also be focusing on the funding gap between colleges and schools, now estimated at 13 per cent.
According to the AoC, it is 10 years since ministers first acknowledged there was a gap.
"So," as Mr Brennan told FE Focus, "I suppose that's something else we'll have to celebrate."