The seminar (further education and the May election) by Carolyn O'Connor @clyn40

On Friday the 27th February a range of further education practitioners were invited to a seminar run by the TES. This seminar was to help form some key questions to put to whichever government gets to take over us in May. As I arrived at the entrance of the Grade 1 listed Over-Seas House in London I felt like I was stepping back in time. I have to admit I was slightly hesitant in stepping through the gates as this Northern lass is not used to such posh places. I finally stopped gawping at the building and went in and met some fellow #ukfechat teachers, together we made our way to the function room. Jo Bale (@jo_bale) and I were utterly fascinated by the crinoline staircase and got slightly distracted. However we managed to refocus and made our way to the function room.

Excitedly I sat at a table I had been allocated to and then suddenly had a student moment when I realised I would be separated from my #ukfechat chums. I soon got over it as I am blessed with my dads Irish genes, which basically means I can talk most people’s ‘ears off’ given half a chance.

The opportunity to be able to meet a range of further education practitioners from various sectors was fantastic. We all had similar concerns about what is going on in further education and more importantly what will happen come May election time.

The Deputy Editor of the TES, Ed Dorrell (@Ed_Dorrell) and TES columnist and founder of #ukfechat Sarah Simons (@MrsSarahSimons) hosted the event. Ed kicked it off by getting us to picture this newly appointed person who had just been handed the further education sector and all of the decisions he/she could make. He did a great job and it certainly put us into action (and mild panic). Ed and Sarah reminded us to steer clear of funding in discussions as that was a given anyway for our sector. Armed with marker pens, giant post it notes (which I fell I love with) and the most amazing cakes we all discussed and debated what was going on the list and what was not. The table I was on started off with good old maths and English and the issues surrounding them. Then we got on to teaching qualifications and all the changes that have been made to them. We could have gone on all day but thankfully Ed and Sarah had us on a time limit.

Somehow I got landed the job of writing on a giant post it (did I tell you how much I love these?) which is funny as I have the worst writing in the world! Anyway somehow I also ended up being the one feeding back. So standing up at the front and in my best Lancashire accent I gave out our points and reasons for them being on the list, here are some of them:

  • Maths and English – functional skills, GCSE or other? Make your mind up!
  • Teacher qualifications – we should be required to have a teaching qualification but which?
  • Standardisation – basically of everything! CPD, grading observations the list is endless.
  • The other tables came back with similar thoughts and Ed and Sarah were able to come up with six key points to work from. These will be shared back with us to discuss once they have been looked over back at TES towers. I will update this blog when it happens.

Finally we also got a chance to put ideas down for what we would like to see in the TES for further education. They are interested in developing their further education section and I can tell you now none of us were short of ideas on how. Keep your eye on the TES, further education is hopefully about to get a bigger voice.