Recently I wrote a short piece on what it meant to me (teaching in further education) now being under Conservative power. As I was mulling (and slightly ranting in my head) this over, my thoughts came back to an article I had read a few years back whilst I was writing my dissertation (if you’re interested it was on Generation Y). The words hit me just as hard as it had the first time I had read it, “neglected middle child”. This was Andrew Foster’s comment referring to further education back in 2005. He was of course referring to FE being seen as an insignificant slot between school and university.
I was overwhelmed to be invited by Sarah Simons to join the #ukfechat gang in a visit to meet with David Russell at the Education and Training Foundation. It was at the start of a week in which, it eventually turned out, I gained a lot of confidence. As this was at the start of the week and meant an influx of new people to meet, I was incredibly nervous. I was my typical quiet and reflective self for the duration of the meeting.
Some of the #ukfechat team were given the opportunity to meet with the CEO of The Education Training Foundation (ETF). The purpose of this meeting was to ask questions regarding their vision for the new professional body for people teaching and supporting in further education Society for Education and Training (SET).
The main focus of this meeting was to look at the membership package on offer. We would be looking at the first draft on what was on offer to an individual who works within further education and/or the adult learning sector.
I’m not the sort of person who takes to the streets with a placard and megaphone to protest against everything they disagree with. I prefer quiet conversations with the right people. I kind of think that by the time you take to the streets, you’ve lost the argument anyway. It’s been a long time, decades probably, since I last took the coach to London to march upon Trafalgar Square with other members of my professional association.
Last week though, I signed a petition, a UCU petition. Online. My marching feet are getting itchy too.
To hear Ofsted openly ask us for our views and to see the organisation acknowledge its own areas for improvement was deeply encouraging and allowed us to see the reflective, human, nurturing, and responsive approach that I know many fellow educators want to see more of.
Last year saw several school teachers actively involved on Twitter get invited to discuss concerns over inspection processes with Ofsted. It was great to read their blogs following these meetings, and a step in the right direction for ensuring consistency of Ofsted inspections. However those of us within the further education sector (particularly #ukfechat) wondered if anyone from Ofsted wanted to listen to us.
Well the answer was YES, and on Tuesday the 3rd of March 2015 we got our chance...
Recently I was very fortunate to be amongst the UKFEchat delegation who went to OfSTED to meet with Lorna Fitzjohn, Director of Further Education and Skills. Whilst on the one hand, we had a very civil and reasonable discussion about a whole range of issues - e.g. whether lesson plans are required (no but evidence of planning is) to the importance of destinations over and above success rates, to me at any rate, I don't think we got to the heart of the matter, which is for me the clear gap between he highest levels of the 'FE blob' and the best available current evidence..
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.
We know that the next three years will bring swingeing cuts to our adult budgets and potential reductions in unit resource for 16 to 19 year olds. Management teams in every college in the country will be exploring the impact of this on their profit and loss account and seeking new ways to generate income and save costs.
Financial pressures are nothing new, but I can’t remember a time when the position has been quite so stark.
When Nick Boles, Minister of State for Skills and Equalities, announced there was to be a review of how best to accredit skills in maths and English, a collective sigh of relief rippled round the country. Not because teachers and trainers don’t want their learners to achieve a GCSE grade C or above in maths and English and not because many young people don’t want to improve their skills in these subjects post 16, but because one size doesn’t fit all.
In my previous post I reported on the results various post-16 providers could expect for those learners with a grade D GCSE English having to re-take this qualification as part of their programme of study. In this post, I will undertake a similar analysis for GCSE maths and will be using data from the Statistical First Release Level 1 and 2 attainment in English and maths by students aged 16-18: academic year 2012/13, published in September 2014.
Colleges around the country are now faced with the prospect of learners with a grade D GCSE English having to re-take this qualification as part of their programme of study. In this short blog, using data from the Statistical First Release Level 1 and 2 attainment in English and maths by students aged 16-18: academic year 2012/13, published in September2014. I will attempt to work out what ‘success rates’ would be realistic to expect from learners re-taking GCSE English.
Yesterday the British media changed UK electioneering practice and the English language by threatening “to empty chair” any party leaders choosing not to take part in a TV debate. Today, ever at the forefront of educational funding and philology, I am empty chairing participants in the debate on further cuts to FE funding…
On Friday the 23rd of January 2015 I attended the first Practitioner group consultancy forum for The Education Training Foundation. This has been formed in response to ensure their consultation process is reflecting the views of all who work within the Further Education/ Lifelong Learning sector. I along with others in the group are to help be their “critical friend” in shaping this new professional body.
The trim, middle-aged, twin-suited lady lowered her spectacles and sniffed; girls in Grammar Schools in the early ‘70’s do not ask such questions her look inferred. “To be an … ‘astronaut’, hmm” she repeated slowly and handed me a leaflet containing details of the local Pitmans Shorthand/typing course. “Off you go dear, that’s much more suitable”.
I am aware that in some FE colleges teachers get an idea of when they will have their internal observations. It usually is one per year lasting roughly forty-five minutes to an hour. Some colleges are now doing two per year with each observations lasting between twenty to thirty minutes. My college is focussing on the two a year and unannounced. I like this, in my mind you should be the same teaching regardless of who comes into your session.
Home truths. Sometimes I’m a bit too keen to tell home truths. Especially when I’m at home. But you can only bite your tongue for so long when you see how a loved one is being treated, and how they are beginning to treat themselves. Yesterday evening, I’m afraid I lost it.