Further education transforms lives and we must protect it

Our further education providers are crucial for challenging inequality and transforming lives in 21st century post-austerity Britain, say Vicky Duckworth and Rob Smith Further education provides a host of social benefits that have remained largely unmeasured – precisely because they can be hard to quantify. To this end, we recently completed a research project to discover and describe some of the benefits that are often not reflected in traditional measures of success. The research cuts across the grain of the current skills policy discourse, providing a picture of transformative teaching and learning taking root and flourishing in the sometimes stony ground of further education. Evidence from the project exposes how, despite straitened finances and the constraints of a constantly changing annual funding methodology that incentivises college self-interest and gaming, further education providers continue to empower people and their communities. In doing so, colleges challenge the stubborn cycle of intergenerational inequality and offer a transformative experience that enhances agency and hope for the project participants, their families and communities. Adult education courses for young and older adults offer a second chance of re-engaging with education  Empowerment Accounts from learners demonstrate that further education courses are pathways to overcoming economic, social, political … Continue reading Further education transforms lives and we must protect it