In today’s TES Further, Julia Belgutay reveals that the proportion of general FE colleges graded "inadequate" by Ofsted has almost doubled this year, with just one institution graded "outstanding". Of the 65 colleges subjected to a full inspection, 12 were rated "inadequate" – 19 per cent of the total. Ofsted has said that the performance of FE providers "varies considerably" and that there have been some improvements for sixth-form colleges, but “this cannot be said of general further education colleges”.
Build-up to the AoC conference
FE editor Stephen Exley writes about the forthcoming Association of Colleges (AoC) annual conference – and says that all eyes will be on education secretary Justine Greening and minister for apprenticeships and skills Robert Halfon. But, he explains, it could be that two education "old-timers" will have as much of an impact on the FE agenda in the next few weeks. These are Sir Michael Wilshaw and Lord Baker, the latter of whom is continuing his crusade for university technical colleges.
Also, ahead of the AoC’s annual conference, from 15-17 November, at which TES will be the supporting media partner, Julia Belgutay runs through some key issues for the sector (article free for subscribers). From what the Sainsbury review will mean to AoC president Ian Ashman's pledge to make his time in office the "year of mental health", there are plenty of hot topics up for discussion at this year’s event.
'Put FE at the heart of country's success'
Andrew Harden, head of FE at the University and College Union, writes that the UK must invest in order to secure the skills that post-Brexit Britain needs. “To find our feet outside the EU, we must position FE and its transformative potential at the heart of this country’s success,” he says. Theresa May wants to build a country that works for everyone – and the way to achieve that is through the transformative power of FE.
Meanwhile, Stephen Jones, a lecturer at a London FE college, says that when it comes to students’ university choices, many options are offered, but few are worth listening to. “There may not be a million-plus actual people trying to give the average student advice on their life choices," Stephen writes, “but sometimes it must feel like it." He says the real problem lies with the “amateur advisers” – those who speak with authority about selecting a university or course, but whose opinion often does more harm than good.
TES columnist Sarah Simons writes about how she was able to connect her star learners to the world of Hollywood (article free for subscribers). Her learners, she writes, encounter daily challenges in their lives, but have thrown themselves into a performance of Mamma Mia! When a chance encounter with one of the actors from the Hollywood movie adaption presented itself, Sarah was able to make their day by taking a photo with him. “My students were delighted and I have never felt more like a teacher – in a good way,” she writes.
FErret has heard on the grapevine that two of FE’s star-crossed lovers – the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) – may finally be getting hitched. For years sparks of romance between the two agencies have been stamped out by a clunky and arbitrary divide imposed by government. But things, it seems, have finally changed. With further education no longer split across two government departments, the EFA and SFA – rather than having to make do with nipping out for furtive coffees – are now well and truly shacked up together. And with colleges being forced to look at mergers to achieve greater financial resilience in the area reviews, FErret thinks it’s only right that the divide between the two agencies finally be shattered.
All this and much, much more in this week’s TES Further.
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