What do we want? A bright new future

1st May 2015 at 01:00
#UKFEchat's manifesto for change is forged out of unity and strength of purpose. Now we just need the politicians to listen.

Some of the most engaged, positive and proactive members of the further education and skills world recently attended an event hosted by TES a stone's throw from Westminster in order to piece together a #UKFEchat manifesto for FE.

Regardless of location or size of institution, many of us shared concerns and a similar wish list. But with limited time, it was agreed that a couple of subjects would be off the table.

First, we endeavoured not to fall down the "parity of esteem" rabbit hole. Equality in the perceived value of further and higher education hasn't been achieved since apprenticeship frameworks were conceived 500 years ago. As optimistic as we were, it seemed unlikely that we could launch a nationwide shift to a Germanic view of vocational learning as culturally and economically essential in one afternoon. We would need a full day for that.

Second, given the complex and seemingly ever-changing intricacies of FE funding, we decided to assume that we all, ultimately, wanted the same thing: appropriate funds in order to do our jobs. The lack of financial support is undoubtedly linked to the lack of esteem. It's difficult to forget business secretary Vince Cable's terrifying admission that a civil servant had advised him to remove even more money so as to "effectively kill off FE". Scarier still was the myopic belief that "nobody will really notice".

With these topics on hold, after much conversational thrashing out of ideas we finally formed five key priorities:

1 Information, advice and guidance

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