In this week’s TES Further, Sue Attewell, head of change for FE and skills at digital solutions organisation Jisc, writes that in our technology-driven society, apprenticeships are being left behind because they are failing to take into consideration our ever-complicated lives (article free for subscribers). So how to get the digital ball rolling? Ideas like using technology to learn from home, and using less paper by implementing digital planning tools will be key to “dragging apprenticeships kicking and screaming into the 21st century”.
Show me the evidence
Meanwhile, TES columnist Sarah Simons writes that evidence-based practice is a great idea…in theory (article free for subscribers). She says it is important for teachers to acknowledge the barriers to applying research in the classroom. These include knowledge – actually learning about the newest pedagogical concepts – taking the time to investigate new learning theories on top of an already exhausting workload, and the opportunity to practise them in the classroom. “While the barriers to evidence-informed practice are significant, recognising that they exist is a first step to overcoming them," she writes.
Rivals for UCU leadership
TES reporter Will Martin speaks to the two candidates in the running to become the next general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) – incumbent Sally Hunt and challenger Jo McNeill. Ms McNeill tells TES that the UCU must address the “massive disconnect” between its leadership and members if it is to ensure post-16 education continues to have a future – while Ms Hunt says the “last thing” UCU members need is a general secretary “captured” by one political faction. Read what they had to say here.
Challenges ahead for union
FE editor Stephen Exley says that in recent years it’s been tough being a trade unionist in education (article free for subscribers). And for the future general secretary of the UCU, the main threats appear to be close to home – with membership likely to continue dwindling as area review-driven mergers reduce the college workforce. “Whoever becomes UCU’s next general secretary has a tough job on their hands,” Stephen writes.
Brexit puts colleges in the spotlight
Andy Westwood, director of the University of Wolverhampton Observatory, and associate vice-president for public affairs at the University of Manchester, writes that FE colleges are central to at least two aspects of the country's post-Brexit future. Firstly, FE colleges provide the technical and vocational training that improves life chances. And secondly, FE helps to find answers for deprived communities – "for the disconnected, the left behind and the angry".
Bad experiences in education
Tom Starkey, who teaches English at a college in the North of England, writes that learners come to FE by a variety of paths, but many have not had the best experience of education (article free for subscribers). “Many learners wear an attitude, forged during their time at school, like a bulletproof vest,” Tom writes. This attitude protects learners from the effects of failure, but it also leaves them stuck in a pattern that’s destined to repeat itself. “But when it does happen, when a learner – with or without our help – sheds the burden of their own legacy issues, it’s a joy and a privilege to watch and be part of,” he says.
Catholic colleges at an impasse
This week FErret writes about the curious case of the 15 Catholic colleges which have been denied the chance to convert to academy status (article free for subscribers). At the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association conference last week, minister Lord Nash said that a fifth of colleges had begun the official academisation process. But, according to Peter McGhee, principal of St John Rigby College in Wigan, Catholic sixth-form colleges “currently find ourselves without the options available to our fellow sixth-form colleges”. Lord Nash has assured them that Department for Education officials will do “everything we can” to resolve the impasse, but stressed he could not give an “absolute guarantee”.
All this and much, much more in this week’s TES Further.