In this week's TES Further: why colleges need a 'merger captain'

Also: the colleges who are inspiring culinary greatness

Tes Reporter

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In this week’s TES Further, Ian Ashman, president of the Association of Colleges (AoC) writes that it is important to pick a ‘merger captain’ who can steer your college through unchartered merger situations (article free for subscribers) – and allow the rest of the leadership team to focus on the day job of teaching and learning. As merger adviser to Hackney Community College, Ian writes that his role as merger “wedding planner” includes keeping the merger plan up to date and monitoring progress with the shadow board. “Whatever type of merger you are considering, I can strongly advocate the benefits of the merger adviser role,” he writes.

FE alliance

TES reporter Julia Belgutay reveals that an unprecedented alliance of sector bodies and unions believes the contentious policy of compulsory GCSE English and maths resits should be changed and an alternative qualification offered for learners who have not achieved a C grade in either subject.

According to the AoC “government must take a realistic view of what they’re asking colleges to do” – while the University and College Union (UCU) said that the ambition for every 16- to 18-year-old to obtain a grade C in English and maths is “admirable”, but it is not working for students or colleges and “should be abolished”.

Resits pressure

TES FE editor Stephen Exley writes that students are being forced through a system in which the “majority of pupils are being set up to fail”. “[And] while colleges are bearing up well under the weight of the resits pressure,” he writes, “Once the final legacy GCSE sittings in November and next summer are out of the way, there are new, more difficult English and maths courses to factor in.”

Culinary superstars

Columnist Sarah Simons writes about the new award launched to celebrate the colleges who are inspiring culinary greatness – the AA College Rosettes (article free for subscribers). To date 14 illustrious "highly commended" ratings have been received by college catering schools – including the Silver Plate at Sheffield College. Sarah writes that students “know they are making a difference in many people’s lives, so their motivation is based on a true sense of purpose.”

Meanwhile Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers writes that if the government wants to serve the needs of learners, employers and the economy, it need look no further than AELP’s submission ahead of the Autumn Statement.

'Vocation, vocation, vocation'

In his column Tom Starkey writes that FE is not all about vocation, vocation, vocation (article free for subscribers). More than any other sector, he says, FE has a sharp focus on helping students achieve success in the world of work. “Just because the aim is something as supposedly mundane as finding work, that doesn’t make it any less worthy,” Tom writes. 

Meanwhile, FErret asks if peace is likely to break out in the FE sector (article free for subscribers). After a bad-tempered dispute between the AoC on one hand, who refused to offer a pay increase for all college employees last year, and the UCU on the other, this year could be a little different The AoC has pitched a 1 per cent pay rise. Although less than the £1 per hour rise that was originally asked for, it is the headline pay recommendations made across public services. FErret can’t wait to see how this one pans out.

All this and much, much more in this week's TES Further.

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