Make colleges local again

9th December 2005 at 00:00
What a good idea! Failing further education colleges should be handed over to the private sector. Then we could have Marconi Electronics Training Ltd.

With British Leyland Motor Engineering School next door to Railtrack Railway Engineers.

Sir Andrew Foster - in his review - says that colleges should be more responsible to employers. As a banker, he should know, they have for example been running Institute of Bankers courses for his employees for decades. I used to teach on them.

Historically many colleges were formed around the needs of industry. When I worked in a shop in 1957 I was sent to evening classes at the local tech.

When I returned to teach at the same college in 1974 the former training officer of the local store was a teacher there.

But more recently it was employer-lead bodies who were actually charged with controlling the content of the courses. The courses used to be run by BTec. It stood for BusinessTechnician Education Council. The word "education" was dropped and the courses, with their so called competences were designed by lead bodies of employers in a whole range of areas. They are the national vocational qualification and general national vocational qualifications of today. They are education free zones and boring.

Private sector? Technical or further education college are already in a shadowy privatepublic arena. They are technically companies limited by guarantee.

Sir Andrew says they should also be taken over by other colleges if they "fail". But that already happens.

There have been so many mergers that there is now, for example, one vast college with sites stretching from near Paddington station to Southall in west London.

Return colleges to local accountability rather than the reverse.

DJ Nicholson

21 Albert Street

Windsor, Berks

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