I was at the AoC conference this year to discover whether we’d won a Beacon Award for staff development- we did and you can read all about it here. This also meant that I got to hear from the following people:

Carole Stott
A sector that’s doing vitally important work- to strengthen our communities and lead to the success of our nation.

Powering the Economy is this year’s conference theme

The formation of human capability and talent is the work of our colleges. We need to be properly supported to develop the skills and talents of our students. Our country needs its colleges.

The demand for improved skills at all levels does not diminish, even in the face of ongoing cuts.

The lives of many people will be affected for years to come by the decisions being made by the current government.

Many college students are supporting the event.
I feel as though that could be even more so- with students guiding visitors and supporting the day in an even more extensive way.

Alison Wolf
Is South Korea something we’re aspiring to as an education system? She stated that they have an 85% participation rate at tertiary level and we’re growing ever closer to that- smashing Blair’s target.

More than ever before, and faster than ever before, the economic levels of a country are open to global trends.

I wonder if the resistance colleges have to work closely with one another, is representative of a global culture where countries are in high competition with one another. It makes me wonder how the world would be improved by us all sharing skills and resources far more freely with one another. I know, perhaps it’s naive of me to think we can place the politics to one side…

Acknowledge and respond to citizens’ educational aspirations- no-one wants to go to a second choice institution.

We’ve been offering qualifications that have been far too specifically tied to one occupation or another. Employers need to shoulder some of the blame as they’ve been resistant to general education too.

She sat with a group of employers who had not yet been tainted by what the government would fund/subsidise them for- What we want the education system to do is to give us the general education and we’ll deal with the specific when they’re in job roles.

One size fits tertiary education is highly expensive and highly unusual.

Every country is targeting its money on the young, even though people are living until an older age all of the time.

Unrealistic and excessive quantitative targets means that apprenticeships will go wrong.

Nick Boles
We need to reflect on our common and shared duty to give young hearts a sense of hope, possibility and belonging.

Enable them to access opportunities that allow them to cater for their families.

Terrorism and extremism are not the only difficult challenges we face.

Their economic, national and personal security depended on us taking some difficult steps to restore the economy. This promise from the conservatives won them the election.

The first area reviews in Norfolk and Suffolk have demonstrated how positive the process can be. Time was spent identifying what the local economy needed and a number of colleges in the area merged as a result of this research- not because central government told them it was necessary.

We can be stronger and more resilient together.

We should be as ambitious about apprenticeship targets as our European counterparts are. The numbers are not a distraction, as Alison Woolf has suggested.

Private training providers are the ones currently receiving the majority of apprenticeship funding at present. Nick Boles asks us to raise our sights and sign-up to a shared ambition of FE Colleges being responsible for two thirds of a much larger pot of funding. At the moment, apprenticeship contracts are provided by the Skills Funding Agency. By 2020, nobody will be receiving an SFA contract- employers will receive vouchers and they’ll make a decision about what training to buy and who to buy it from. The competitive edge to the sector is being upheld then!

We need to be more flexible, entrepreneurial and quicker off the mark.

Don’t just offer them what it is convenient to offer- huge assumption that’s what the sector is currently doing?

We need to be able to provide high quality apprenticeships so that we can thrive in the current climate.

They’re going to be able to release further funding, recycling where it’s needed if colleges have reached the limit of their allocation.

The Netherlands and Norway have different kinds of programmes- 1+1, 2+2

Need to research this further

Some might begin doing a programme to begin with, alongside English and maths, before they move towards specialising in a particular career pathway.

He does not agree with those who say that apprenticeships are solely for young people. If we’re all moving to a world where we’re living longer then the routes should be more open for adults to access these opportunities too.

He thinks it is right to attach more money to younger cohorts but whether any should be attached to adults is being decided.

Students’ travel costs are likely to increase as area reviews take place (question from the NUS). He doesn’t want to pretend the money is there because it isn’t. Colleges should see whether student contracts already in existence with schools could be used.

In addressing the imbalance between higher and further education, he says that Alison Woolf is correct. The HE reform has meant that even students from disadvantaged backgrounds have been able to access higher education. He does believe that the funding for equivalent vocational training does begin to reflect that available for HE.

Martin Doel

It’s not about the institutions, it’s about the people and the communities they support.

This education sector is more responsive to change than any other education sector. We always get on with it and have been from the start.

How we will work better together is the right kind of conversation to be having.

The hump to get over- of investing before the results are seen- is the big looming challenge.

The world is moving away from sorting people into sheep or goats before their 18- away from moving them down a narrow route before they can really know where they need/want to go.

You will not have a well-functioning country without colleges sustaining the economy.

Powering the economy in a socially-inclusive way.

The AoC will challenge the government about their decisions and about generating policy that enables us to power the economy. They’ll question.

If the only answer is apprenticeships, it won’t work. Communities don’t work like that. You can’t bring out the PREVENT policy and announce that funding for speakers from other countries is being cut on the same day. At last, someone has said this out loud!

Colleges are the ultimate survivors and they’ll be supported to survive and thrive in the face of current policy not just despite them.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

She’d heard us (the FE sector) referenced as ‘the adaptive layer of the education system’.

 

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