In this week’s TES Further, FErret dips his whiskers into the murky world of FE real estate (article free for subscribers). One college in Birmingham – built for £66 million and recently valued by real estate assessors to be a (relatively) paltry £17.5 million – has stunned the sector.
However, a source from the real estate world has said that no one should be at all surprised. The cost of building educational premises is high and it’s not easy to find an alternative use. Still, with mergers aplenty, and government officials, especially those at the Skills Funding Agency, scrambling for as much cash as possible, the question does arise: where exactly is the benefit of public investment?
Igoe-ing, Igoe-ing, gone
David Igoe, after 30 years in sixth-form college life, and seven at the helm of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, takes a look back at his tenure (article free for subscribers). The former principal, who joined the sixth-form college sector in 1982, says of his SFCA role: “I hope I was the right person at the right time."
Meanwhile, in a guest editorial, Andy Westwood, associate vice-president for public affairs at the University of Manchester, asks if HE in FE should be subject to the whims of universities. Whatever policy or market ideology exists, he argues, cutting accreditation is no way to run a system. Indeed, the best relationships are those that are based on a strategic rather than a transactional agreement.
A 'tsunami' of change
TES FE editor Stephen Exley reveals that experts have warned that a “tsunami” of changes involved in the switch to the new, tougher GCSEs will create a “very challenging” scenario for colleges, which could lead to thousands of learners being disadvantaged. Record numbers of college students are expected to take their GCSE resits this year, in a “testing” period for the sector.
From governed to the governor
Also in the magazine, Stephen Jones, a teacher at a college in South London, explains how he became a governor at his local sixth-from college – and how his impression of governors changed from "beings from another planet" to those "responsible for strategy and direction" of their respective institutions.
Over the page, David Hall, who runs an organisation that helps FE institutions to challenge traditional thinking, whips out his crystal ball and looks into the future of FE. He says the survival of of FE colleges will depend on an ability to break with deeply ingrained habits, with rewards in store for those that can overcome tradition and convention.
Size does matter
Janette Thompson, a teaching and learning practitioner in the East Midlands, says that size really does matter – that is, when put into the context of how bigger classes impact on students and teachers.
Finally, TES’ resident reverend, Kate Bottley, is back – this time saying that sometimes letting your hair down with staff outside the walls of your college is of huge benefit. Especially if it means seeing Sheila from admin doing her thing to Oops Upside Your Head.
All this and much, much more in this week's TES Further.