It’s a fantastically positive step that FE is getting its own research hub, with the introduction earlier this week of the Networking the Network website (awful, awful name but, y’know, you can’t have everything), which seeks to promote research in the FE sector.
Why is this important? Well, because of context. It recognises FE as its own beast and (hopefully) will attempt to explore some of the issues and answer some of the questions that are exclusive to the sector. It’s early days yet, but, for me, it’s a heartening step in the right direction when it comes to the recognition of FE’s unique qualities.
It’s those qualities that need to be considered by researchers and practitioners to ensure that any findings or exploration or thought actually has something to do with the environments and learners that our area encompasses. An area that is too often overlooked.
Hopefully, with this new attempt at sector-specific research and collaboration, we can ensure that there is a focus on problems and issues that are essentially “FE”, leading to making things a little better specifically in the world we inhabit.
Tom Starkey teaches English at a college in the North of England