Foundation appoints ‘learner voice’ to directors board

Student leader Joe Vinson has been given a seat on the director’s board of the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) after talks to ensure top-level learner representation.

Mr Vinson, vice president for FE at the National Union of Students (NUS), takes the post despite initial ETF board plans in which learners did not feature.

However, it is understood his post will remain open to successive student figures.

Mr Vinson told FE Week: “I am really excited about having a position on the board for the ETF.

“It is something the NUS has been requesting for quite some time now.

“I hope that added student representation will help give a unique and much needed perspective on how to improve the quality of education for learners.”

The ETF, the FE sector’s “self-improvement” body, had been in “discussions” with the NUS since FE Week exclusively revealed in April last year how a draft implementation plan had no place for learner representation on the board.

But there were proposed seats on the board for the Association of Colleges (AoC), the Association of Employment and Learning Providers and the Association of Adult Education and Training Organisations (AAETO), which operates under the name Holex.

However, an ETF spokesperson said: “Following consideration of a proposal from the NUS, to ensure that the organisation benefits from a representative learner perspective on its governance matters, the board confirmed Joe’s appointment at its December meeting. We are sure that he will provide an expert view, informed by knowledge of learner experience.”

The ETF (formerly known as the FE Guild) was formally launched in August last year, taking over from the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS).

Jenny Williams, director of vocational education and teaching at the ETF, was one of five full-time and seven part-time staff transferred to the new organisation from LSIS under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations.

And the appointment of former LSIS employee Helen Pettifor as director for professional standards and workforce development means that eight of the 21 people currently employed at ETF came from LSIS.

The ETF spokesperson said: “As part of the closure of LSIS, and in line with the transfer of some functions to the ETF, some staff transferred via the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) protocols.

“It was right for these staff to transfer, and their expertise and knowledge has enabled a number of services and programmes to progress at pace. Through open recruitment, we are seeking to ensure that the organisation has the expert and skilled professionals it needs.

“If the best candidate for a particular role has previously worked for LSIS, then that is simply a matter of fact. We will recruit the most suitable person for the job.”