Guild given ministerial green light

Plans for a new FE body to support the sector have been given the go-ahead.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills confirmed funding, excluding VAT, of £18.8m for August to April next year and the same figure again for 2014-15 to develop the FE Guild.

David Hughes, independent chair of the guild’s development steering group and chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, welcomed the funding.

He said the sector now had a “unique opportunity” to “shape” the organisation which will provide training and set professional standards across the sector.

“Our implementation plan reflects what people have told us from across the whole sector, recognises the past successes and looks forward to the ambitions we all share for professional staff and organisations delivering great learning,” said Mr Hughes.

 The Guild will provide a real one stop focus for leadership, management and governance.”

“Our proposal best fits what is needed to deliver the professionalism and ongoing improvement of the entire workforce that will continually improve learner outcomes and experience.”

He said the group — which is yet to be officially named — would now be able to recruit a chief executive before its launch, due to take place in August.

“We will now establish the new organisation, agree its priorities, design new arrangements to ensure it engages with, listens to and meets the needs of providers, practitioners, learners and employers as customers, and then deliver what the sector needs,” added Mr Hughes.

Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “The new guild, with an overarching remit around professionalism, embracing qualifications, standards, teaching and learning research, continuous professional development and enabling networks of providers will provide a real one stop focus for leadership, management and governance.”

The proposal to form a guild was first put forward by ministers in 2011 and a small project team with a steering group with representation from the sector issued a consultation document at the end of January.

Following consultation, the group produced an implementation plan at the end of last month.

The plan sparked controversy with the National Union of Students for proposing there be no learner representation on the board of the guild.

Nevertheless, the body will be set up as a company limited by guarantee and registered as a charity with board members from organisations including the AoC, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, the Third Sector National Learning Alliance, and the Association of Adult Education and Training Organisations (which operates under the name of HOLEX), said a guild spokesperson.

She added that the board would develop the body’s vision and mission around the five themes of improving learner experience and outcomes, enhancing the reputation of the sector, developing provider good practice, making the sector an attractive place to join and work and promoting and championing equality and diversity across the sector.