Laying the path for improvement journeys

A review of the FE teacher and trainer qualifications is one way the Learning and Skills Improvement Service is helping providers says Rob Wye.  

The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) and Ofsted co-commissioned the How Colleges Improve report to ensure all of us in the sector gained a thorough understanding of what exactly is required if standards are to be raised.

It made three recommendations that LSIS should follow, which we are already implementing.

These are to continue to focus training and development on achieving effective governance and outstanding teaching, learning and assessment, to take steps to increase the involvement of underperforming colleges in LSIS’s programmes, and to promote the sharing of best practice between institutions in tackling common impediments to progress.

These three points coincide with LSIS’s key priorities for the sector — to equip the sector to achieve outstanding teaching and learning, to ensure the sector has excellent leadership, management and governance, and to mobilise effective and timely intervention both to avoid and resolve cases of failure.

As part of our commitment to our first priority, we are leading a review of FE teacher and trainer qualifications to ensure teachers are equipped with the professionalism required to achieve excellence.

We are supportive of any initiative that aims to improve professionalism in the sector, and gives the sector the recognition and profile that it deserves.

Finally, we are conducting the secretariat function for the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning led by Frank McLoughlin CBE.

The commission is committed to hearing from people with insights and experience from across the sector.

A number of seminars are being held, and the questions for each seminar and the summary reports will be made available online to encourage and enable as many people as possible to be engaged in this important work.

We believe the importance of outstanding leadership and management, underpinned by informed governance, cannot be underestimated.

Following the release of How Colleges Improve, Ofsted’s national director for learning and skills, Matthew Coffey, said: “Successful colleges always had strong leadership and management, and the importance of this cannot be underestimated.

“All the elements of this report are inextricably linked to the actions and behaviours of leaders and managers and the example they set.”

We are leading a college for leaders called The Leadership Exchange, which will help build on these themes and offer existing and aspiring principals, chief executives and managing directors the opportunity to connect with, and learn from, the best leaders within the FE sector and beyond.

Finally, LSIS’s improvement services are well-placed to deliver on the recommendations Ofsted made and we already have evidence of impact in these areas.

For example, Skills Funding Agency-funded colleges that have worked with us in order to achieve improvement have increased their Ofsted rating by one grade at their next inspection.

However, a college is not properly ready for inspection if it does not undergo honest and thorough self-assessment, which we can support.

It is our aim to work with the sector to improve the sector, enabling those providers with expertise to be the improvement providers supporting those organisations in need.

In addition, robust and honest self-review and reflection is a vital ingredient of any provider’s improvement journey.

Summing up, we have taken on board the recommendations made in How Colleges Improve, and will be embedding them in our work. We are committed to working with the sector to improve the sector, by collaborating with improvement providers to assist those organisations in need we will continue to deliver the support needed.

Rob Wye, LSIS chief executive

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