Let's eliminate the negative and take matters into our own hands

4th May 2007 at 01:00

Ray Dowd and Ellie Russell (FE Focus, April 27, page 1) need a little reality check.

The students' common room, in our experience, does not buzz with criticism of teaching. In fact, our soundings of the student voice, which include direct exposure to our college management team and governors, fill us with confidence and admiration for our staff, who are delivering the goods in spades.

Indeed, they are helped in this by the students we are training up and deploying for teaching observation work.

This Government and the Learning and Skills Council have done much to raise the importance of the learner voice and the "personalised" agenda.

On another issue, yes, the roots of FE lie in advancing the lot of the workers. I can remember attending the reading room of my local Working Men's Institute in south Wales. However, I think we now do much more in a systematic and effective way. Thanks to Foster's review, we have a clear focus and mission around equipping the future and existing workforce with skills that help them prosper and UK plc to flourish. Let's celebrate that new found direction and movement.

Sorry, Ray, but it's up to principals to set the tone in their institutions. In the colleges that I come into contact with, the conversations in the corridors and staff rooms are, in no small part, pedagogical.

Finally, self-regulation is a prize worth having and I also feel there will be a role for a restructured LSC, but it is not as a policeman who removes miscreants. That is up to the sector itself - only then are we truly self-regulating.

So the focus must be on governing bodies and their ability to know when their college is in trouble and to turn inward to the sector for support and solutions.

Ioan Morgan CBE principal of Warwickshire College

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