Further education leaders clashed with Ofsted over whether students needed work experience outside of their colleges.

The exchange took place during a packed debate at the Association of Colleges annual conference on November 20, chaired by FE Week editor Nick Linford and sponsored by NCFE, on new study programmes for 16 to 19-year-olds.

Panelist Asha Khemka, principal of West Nottinghamshire College, disagreed with colleges being required to arrange external work experience for all students through the programmes.

Speaking to fellow panel member Marina Gaze, Ofsted’s deputy director of FE and skills, she said: “We have got a five-star restaurant. Are you saying people working there do not learn to turn up on time or how to meet the needs of customers?

“Why should I send students working there outside of the college for work experience, just to tick a box with Ofsted?”

Andrew Patience, principal of New College Stamford, pointed out that many of
his students studied four days a week and then worked the fifth day , while not in college.

He said: “The powers-that-be will effectively force them to give up paid work to do unpaid work experience on that spare day.”

Ms Gaze said: “What we are saying is we will expect every student to at least aim to do outside work experience.”

She said it would be okay — under the right circumstances — for learners to do all their work experience within colleges after being pressed by Mr Linford.

Panelists from left: David Grailey, NCFE, Asha Khemka, West Nottinghamshire College, Marina Gaze, Ofsted, and Mike Hopkins, Middlesborough/Gateshead