I read recently that the phrase “painting the Forth Bridge” will soon be redundant – they have come up with some sort of new paint that will last almost indefinitely! I have always thought of improvement in FE and skills as a bit like “painting the Forth Bridge” …a never ending quest, as wherever we are on that journey, there is always more to do.

It would be great if we could find that everlasting “improvement paint” for FE; one coat and job done. But we all know it’s not like that. Improvement in FE takes hard work, persistence, constancy and application.

We know that consistently outstanding providers are distinguished by a common set of features.

They have a rigorous, established approach to quality assurance. Their systems are not only well designed, but are well used in reviewing performance and planning improvement. Their leadership is strong and frequently described as ‘inspirational’, ‘dynamic’  and ‘firmly focused’ on outcomes for learners.

Our offer is dynamic and will continue to evolve as we take stock of your changing needs. “

But with less funding to invest and more demands on the FE system’s services to meet emerging economic and social needs, resources in terms of people, time and funding may be spread ever more thinly in fulfilling improvement objectives.

At LSIS our offer this year is designed to provide you with a framework in which you can best focus those resources.

The new offer will help you bring about improvement in LSIS’s five main areas of activity:

• teaching and learning

• capacity for cost-effective curriculum design and development

• leadership, governance and management for innovation and improvement

• efficiency, innovation and new ways of working; and

• supporting the sector to influence the future.

We have specifically restructured our services to better inform the sector as a whole and influence future development in line with emerging needs. There will be increased opportunities to exchange information at regional and national levels, better use of evidence and knowledge from research, and continued dissemination of our policy analysis.

All the changes and developments within our service offer are the outcome of our extensive consultations with you as providers, with our sector partners and other sector bodies. The focus for this offer has been further determined through our Board and in particular through discussions at the LSIS Council comprising 30 sector elected representatives. This is to ensure the offer fully supports the sector in meeting future challenges set out in the sector-wide strategy framework New Freedoms: New Focus which we launched in our September newsletter together with the accompanying LSIS Strategic Intentions 2011 -2014, containing the five strategic platforms for delivery.

Our offer is dynamic and will continue to evolve as we take stock of your changing needs.  I welcome all feedback on what we offer, as that will help drive yet further improvement. And, while we all keep looking for that magic “improvement paint” LSIS will keep on building better services to support the sector to help itself improve learning and skills.

For more information on the LSIS Improvement Service Offer 2011-2012 please visit our website http://www.lsis.org.uk/Services/support-improvement/Pages/default.aspx

Rob Wye,  CEO of The Learning and Skills Improvement Service