Articles from NCFE

Delivering what is right for learners in the face of major sector changes

With details of the spending review now in the public domain, it is clear that the consequences for further education are as challenging as most expected they would be. Finding £1.1 billion savings by 2014 will be no mean feat and the sector faces some major readjustments. 

Put adult learners - and future learners - in the driving seat

NCFE and the Campaign for Learning consider the future of post-18 education, in their recent volume of opinion pieces: 'The post-18 review of education and funding: a review of a lifetime' , where Susan Pember reiterates the importance of putting adult learners - and future learners - in the driving seat:

More Apprenticeships for Young People and Young Adults, Please!

NCFE and the Campaign for Learning consider the future of post-18 education, in their recent volume of opinion pieces: 'The post-18 review of education and funding: a review of a lifetime' , where Stewart Segal highlights the need for more apprenticeships for young people and young adults:

Sex, drugs and citizenship

It is a debate that has raged for years, a talking point for the Government, unions, schools, colleges, teachers and parents – and I imagine will continue to be for many years to come: What subjects should and should not be compulsory in education?

Student awards to reach new heights

Taming the MoG

The premise of George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, for those that haven’t read it, was a dystopian futuristic society in which a colossal amount of control was placed on the way people spoke, acted and even thought. History was altered with the swipe of an eraser in order to meet specific political needs, and Freedom was stripped away from people by massive Government agencies such as the Ministry of Truth.This obviously seemed quite plausible to Orwell when he wrote the novel in 1949, and in many respects he hit the nail on the head. Which brings me onto Further Education… Frankly, it’s hard not to be reminded of Nineteen Eighty-Four when you hear the phrase “Machinery of Government”. It’s a phrase from an Orwellian nightmare if ever there was one and I discussed the problems it will cause for the education sector in my last column on FE News.Luckily, the motives behind Machinery of Government are far less sinister than those of the people who ruled over Oceania. They’re not scrabbling for power, rather, devolving it so local authorities take more control of further education. Fine, in theory, except we are faced with the prospect that those being given the power are not necessarily ready for it.Again, unlike Orwell’s protagonists, we are in the fortunate situation that we can actually do something about this. The FE sector – with a particular emphasis on support organisations like NCFE, which works closely with colleges and training providers throughout the country, can help reduce the impact the Machinery of Government will have while it sorts itself out in the short and medium terms.Firstly, I firmly believe that customer service should be at the top of the agenda. Ok, I would say that ‘service’ has been part of NCFE’s strapline for years, and we recently gained recognition for that as we scooped the Culture and People Award and were crowned Best Medium Organisation at the UK Customer Experience Awards. These awards included entrants from across a variety of sectors and marketplaces and were delighted with the results.However, to put not too fine a point on it, our sector generally has a slightly shoddy reputation for customer service. There’s no question that most organisations could be doing a little better and, with MoG round the corner threatening to really upset the apple cart, the stability of the FE sector is seriously at risk.If going the extra mile to make things easier for colleges and training providers is what it takes, then that is absolutely what we should be doing and we really have the chance to make a difference here, there has never been a better time to address the issue and start universally offering the sort of world-class, award-wining levels of service the sector deserves.Secondly, there are an awful lot of questions still out there about MoG – many of which remain unanswered. What is being done to tackle what’s happening? Are there any other ways of preparing? Are there best practice examples that can be shared, or plans in place to deal with what’s happening?The industry needs some real leadership right now – someone must grasp the nettle and find a way to bring all these answers together in a presentable, palatable form before next Spring. We need to work together to negotiate MoG successfully and I know this for sure: the first half of 2010 will be an incredibly interesting period.David Grailey is the chief executive of NCFE, the qualification awarding bodyRead other FE News articles by David Grailey: FE Titanic approaches the iceberg of MoGWe must help UK's young jobless get set for workSex, drugs and citizenship

FE Titanic approaches the iceberg of MoG

Global warming is melting the icecaps, but there’s still a colossal iceberg on the horizon for the FE Sector – Machinery of Government – and, as you know, we’re charting a Titanic-esque course right towards it. There are barely over six months to go until the powers underpinning further education are decentralised and devolve to local government. But these are uncharted waters and it could be time to stop painting the deckchairs and start thinking about plotting a new course – or at least work out how we’re going to emerge unscathed from the danger. In a bid to provide the right services in the right places, the responsibility of managing and funding education and training for 14-19 year olds will be transferred from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to local authorities from 2010/2011, as part of the changes to the Machinery of Government (MoG). It was concluded by the Government that organising education from the centre results in a mismatch between what is needed regionally. While this will in the long term bring benefits to the system, the pitfalls of such a change are yet to be fully acknowledged and it appears that we are to brace ourselves for a significant period of disruption. The positives: The new system will enable individual regions to have more input regarding the education and training that is offered on a regional basis. It is designed to bring more coherence in the planning, coordination and integration of 0-19 children’s services, and to encourage a greater deal of innovation in how these are delivered. With local authorities taking the lead, plans to overcome skills-shortages and attempts to accelerate the recovery of the economy will no doubt be facilitated, therefore in theory, it appears to be quite a sensible move. However for the changes to be successful they will require sound management, close monitoring and will need to ensure the smooth transfer of LSC expertise to local authorities to enable regions to reap the intended rewards. We’re concerned that this may not be the case. In fact, if we dig a little deeper and explore the plans more thoroughly, it is easy to spot the cracks and identify potential drawbacks. From national experts to local inexperience By granting power to local authorities to manage the FE sector, we are essentially moving the system away from one group of national experts to many inexperienced town-hall-teams that do not have the relevant knowledge or understanding to enable an effective FE structure to take place. Under the new proposals, further education will be under the ultimate control of the Directors of Children’s Services, roles that currently control local schools. Add sixth forms and colleges to these already over-stretched employees’ workloads and it’s probably fair to say that education could end up suffering rather than reaping the benefits that were originally foreseen. Whilst greater coherence is in theory desirable, the practicalities surrounding the management of further education alongside primary and secondary education suggest that this may not be so straightforward, nor immediately achievable. The funding and planning structure for schools differs immensely from that of sixth forms, colleges and training centres and we are likely to witness a high level of disruption from these changes before we see any benefit. Raising Expectations Action Programme (‘React’), a group launched last year, will remain in place while local authorities adjust to the new system. However compared to the number of local governments, which will have differing strategic plans, it is questionable as to how this relatively small group will cope with the increased workload. It is appreciated that change can be a good thing, however we need to ensure that learners’ needs are of the utmost priority. The purpose of the changes is to ensure that young people have equal access to quality learning opportunities, including apprenticeships and diplomas, as well as more traditional qualifications such as NVQ, A-Level and BTEC qualifications. Sixth forms, colleges and training centres are teaching tomorrows workers the core skills needed to progress a successful career. Making sure that learners are receiving the resources and guidance they deserve is vitally important in order to unlock their potential. As with any new system, the switch is very likely to encounter teething problems – just how serious they will become is yet to be seen. After a prolonged period of economic turbulence, with little indication of recovery on the horizon, it is important to ensure that the FE sector is correctly managed. Over the next six months, central Government needs to ensure that regional bodies can cope with the increased workload that these changes are likely to pose for local authorities. Only time will tell whether the new system is really as unsinkable as the Government suggests. David Grailey is the chief executive of NCFE, the qualification awarding body Read other FE News articles by David Grailey: We must help UK's jobless young get set for work Sex, drugs and citizenship NCFE Chief David Grailey on how to help the young, free and unemployed

We must help UK's jobless young get set for work

Picture the scene: you’re an employer with a vacancy, let’s say an entry-level position. You’ve done everything correctly – advertised in all the right places and picked out the best-on-paper candidates.

How to help the young, free and unemployed

Education changes lives. It gives us the skills, knowledge and experience needed to enter our chosen career or profession, develop our existing skill and learn new areas of expertise.

FE needs to encourage more adults into learning, says NCFE's David Grailey

I recently saw that a study which showed that two million fewer adults are benefiting from adult education. The study, which was carried out by the Learning and Skills Council, showed that in 2003-04 more than 5.1 million adults were on courses funded by the Learning and Skills Council. By 2006-07 this figure had fallen to just 3.1 million.

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The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

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Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

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Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

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FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


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