I do it for a living, but it is increasingly difficult to track the changing names and formations of the quangocracy that runs FE. It's like spooning out alphabetti spaghetti every time you want to refer to one of the many FE quangos.
There's the funding body, the LSC, which was the FEFC, which was the Tec, which was the MSC, which was spawned by the DfE, which became the DFEE, which became the DfES. And, checking up that you were doing a good job was the role of the HMI, but it's now done by Ofsted and ALI and, increasingly, in indirect ways, by LLUK when it sends SVUK to endorse your ITT and CPD training programmes.
Worryingly, the hydra-headed quangocracy is multiplying. This month sees the launch of the QIA and the LSN where once there was just the LSDA, which was Feda. The QIA is self-declared not as a quango, but an NDPB. Its first job is to find out what excellence in FE means, which must be a clear answer to those cynics who say that quangos are a waste of money! Challenged recently, when musing on quangos, I was informed that many of the bodies I thought were quangos were actually "private companies".
One, the CEL, was even described as a quasi quango. My view is that if it looks like a quango, acts like a quango, it is a quango. One such "private company" quango has already been mentioned. LLUK, an SSC, which was a TDLB, and its wholly-owned subsidiary, the SVUK which replaces Fento and sets standards for professional development. It has also spun off the IfL (PC) which was the IfL (FE) which is the FE version of the IfLT HE which is now the HEA, which is the HE version of the GTC (E).
We've got used to quangos and don't worry about them. When they started to have influence, it was all too common to try to ignore them. When I first applied for a job in FE, the head of department told me that I almost hadn't got the job because I hadn't read ABC by the FEU which was based at the FESC.
But I got the job with the LEA as this was before Gerbil which became ERA and turned colleges into PLCs. The alphabetti spaghetti was in evidence then but mostly it referred to mysterious groups of students.
I remember lecturers talking about organising Weep for NTIs, then YTS and YOPs. Now the main quangos are preoccupied by NEETs, who affect NETTs.
The quangocracy seems to have lost interest in the majority of students and is now turning its attention to lecturers. It's much worse than the simple times when NCVQ promoted NVQ verifier awards.
To teach YTS and YOPs, all you needed was courage, now to teach NEETS, you need to go on Inset and ITT endorsed by LLUK, in a framework set by the QIA, graded by OfstedALI and then the LLSC will fund you. That will be for as long as lecturers keep up their CPD record and membership of the Ifl (PC).
Confused? The thing about quangos is that they keep changing name, although I've noticed that the people running them seem to stay the same. There is a good research project for the LSDA, sorry, LSN. What gets more difficult to see, through the quangocracy, is the DfES.
They might be responsible for education but they don't want the responsibility, and perhaps that's why the quangocracy was created - to confuse FE lecturers about who's responsible for the Cinderella sector?
So, if you teach in FE and find it's impossible to know who's controlling your working life, you know you've been quango'd !
Dennis Hayes is based at the Urban Learning Foundation (ULF)
ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WEEP...
ALI Adult Learning Inspectorate
CEL Centre for Excellence in Leadership
CPD Continuing Professional Development
DfE, DFEE, DfES Education Department
ERA Education Reform Act
Feda FE Development Agency
FEFC FE Funding Council
Fento FE National Training Organisation
FESC FE Staff College
FEU FE Unit
Gerbil Great Education Reform Bill
GTC General Teaching Council
HEA Higher Education Academy
HMI Her Majesty's Inspectorate
IfLPC Institute for Learning Post-Compulsory
ITT lnitial teacher training
Inset Inservice training
LEA Local education authority
LLUK Lifelong Learning UK
LSC Learning and Skills Council
LLSC Local Learning and Skills Council
LSDA Learning and Skills Development Agency
LSN Learning and Skills Network
Ofsted Office for Standards in Education
MSC Manpower Services Commission
NCVQ National Council for Vocational Qualifications
NDPB Non-Departmental Public Body
NEET Not in Employment, Education or Training
NETTs National Education and Training Targets
NTI New Training Initiative
NVQ National Vocational Qualification
QIA Quality Improvement Agency
SSC Sector Skills Council
SVUK Standards Verification UK
TDLB Training and Development Lead Body
Tec Training and Enterprise Council
Weep Work Experience on Employers' Premises
YOP Youth Opportunities Scheme
YTS Youth Training Scheme