The Annual Conference of the Association Colleges is a highlight for many of us in the FE sector. Debate and discussion on the big issues of the day, high profile keynote speakers, showcases of the very best in teaching and learning and, of course, silently judging exhibitors based on the quality of their freebies.

Ministerial speeches always provoke a reaction, and this year the speech by FE Minister John Hayes was true to form, offering us a round-up of progress made and of progress still to be made, in a fashion we’ve all come to know and expect.

He told us that FE is no longer the neglected middle child of education, that the sector is getting the freedoms it needs and that he wants “to abolish as much uncertainty for FE as I can.”

For me, the brilliance of FE lies in its adaptability, its flexibility, its ability to embrace change and respond to the challenge of the new.

When it comes to teaching and learning it is the unknowns of what the future holds that leads to curriculum innovation and vibrant provision meeting the needs of business and industry.

I suspect it is answers to the big questions that FE wants and this was true this week when the Institute for Learning questioned the Government’s direction on FE Initial Teacher Training.

I see one of our key responsibilities as a professional body as ensuring that future generations of learners benefit from highly qualified and dedicated teaching professionals.

To achieve this we must be able to attract and retain the very best professionals from industry and support them properly to become dual professionals; vocational experts and teaching experts.

This is something IfL is passionate about which is why we raised these issues in such detail through our responses to government consultations and directly with Ministers.

When it comes to teaching and learning it is the unknowns of what the future holds that leads to curriculum innovation and vibrant provision meeting the needs of business and industry.”

It was reassuring, therefore, that John Hayes announced in his speech at AoC Conference that this would be addressed by government through the introduction of new bursaries for new teachers and trainers undertaking teacher training.

“To ensure that our teachers are the best in the world and have access to HE I can announce today that we will introduce a bursary for initial teacher training” John Hayes MP, AoC Conference, November 15, 2011.

The Minister reinforced his vision in a series of interviews and his post-speech press conference, where he talked about how he wanted the system to be similar to the system for trainee school teachers because the status quo disadvantages FE in a way that “wouldn’t be compatible with the priority and status we are affording it.” The announcement was also welcomed strongly by Martin Doel, Chief Executive at the AoC.

As always, the devil will of course be in the detail and we will be hoping for equal support for those following the non-academic route in to teacher training – those from engineering, construction, hospitality, care, etc, who have taken vocational pathways – as well as graduates taking an academic route.

John Hayes has set out the challenge and IfL looks forward to working with the sector and the Department to ensure the new ITT bursaries featuring strongly in government’s new skills strategy ‘new challenges new chances’ due to be published shortly.

After six-and-a-half years at IfL, Lee Davies will be leaving in February 2012 to take on his new post as chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys. He began his 23-year career in further education as a part-time plumbing lecturer at Highbury College Portsmouth, and will continue to be an IfL Fellow.



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2 Comments

  1. FE_Unfocussed

    “The Annual Conference of the Association Colleges is a highlight for many of us in the FE sector.”

    I think this sentence really sums up the problem with a lot of the representation and management of FE at the moment – the reality is that the vast majority of people who work in FE, I mean actually do that wierd thing where they have to turn up in a classroom, where some students are and ensure that learning takes place – it’s called teaching for those of you reading for whom this article resonated, and it’s what pays your wages, even though you’d like as little of it as possible to take place.

    Lee, much like many of the people who are involved with the AoC/IfL which ever other acronym bestowed organisations there are are pretty much the ‘1%’ of the FE sector, and they neglect, ignore and patronise the ‘99%’ to within an inch of their lives and try to make them feel as though they should be greatful for it.

    This said, I’m disappointed that Lee is leaving IfL, he was one of the only people from the wrteched organisation who I could actually get to engage me in conversation, and although I’m sure he wasn’t particularly enamoured with me, he did at least respond, which is much more than can be said of many in that organisation.

    Is this a portent of doom for the IfL? is it the begining of the end (or more like very nearly the end of the end).

  2. FE_Teacher

    This article is a typical piece of patronising IFL bumf. These mandarins at Old Street are so out of touch with their membership it’s unbelievable. As a teacher, passionately dedicated to the task of educating adults let down by the system while coping with the systematic devastation of the FE sector, I really don’t want to hear subjective views about how worthwhile conferences are and I certainly don’t want to know how senior executives fill their all expenses paid time by “silently judging exhibitors based on the quality of their freebies”.

    Most conferences are just another platform for MP’s, an excuse for highly paid executives to network in luxurious surroundings and an extravagant waste of money in my view. Like over 80% of respondents to a current IFL online opinion poll, I don’t think conferences impact on teaching and learning very much……..so why go to all the expense? IFL’s executives would do better getting their noses to the grindstone and getting themselves more involved with real teachers rather than hobnobbing with non-teaching executives at the Ritz.

    It’s all very well talking about attracting the very best but after listening to IFL CEO’s Toni Fazali in a recently recorded video, in which she stated that FE teachers: “have to take a step down in salary from their first career to be a teacher in FE”, how do you expect attract the very best people by offering lower wages? And if this is possible then why are we paying Toni Fazaeli a salary of £130,000?

    As for the departure of Deputy CEO Lee Davies; I can’t say I’m sorry to see him go but I can say I have more respect for him than any of the other self-serving executives. He at least responded to some members, albeit for a short period of time, before making it impossible for any of IFL’s critics to communicate by excluding 165,000 of them in one fell swoop.

    That being said I bear him no malice for the future and wish him success in his new venture in the hope he’s learned a lot from this experience and that he’ll not make the same mistakes with the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys as he did with IFL.

    By resigning I think he’s doing the right thing and I think IFL’s CEO, Toni Fazaeli should follow his example.