Articles from Sally Dicketts

Colleges Week sees huge progress in getting colleges better represented, recognised, and valued in the halls of Westminster and beyond

#CollegesWeek #LoveOurColleges - After two consecutively successful Colleges Weeks (2018 and 2019), it is exciting as we prepare for our third one. 

Sally Dicketts discusses the importance of Coaching for Practitioners and Leaders #SETConf19

FE News chat with Sally Dicketts, Group Chief Executive of Activate Learning about the importance of Coaching for Practitioners and Leaders at the SET 2019 annual conference. 

Niko appointed as International Director at Activate Learning

Former Group Operations Director for BSC Group, Niko Phillips, has been announced as the new Group Director - International at Activate Learning.

Chris takes the Chair at Activate Learning

Group Chief Executive of the City & Guilds Group, Chris Jones, has been announced as the new Chair of the corporation at Activate Learning.

Sally Dicketts, Chief Executive of Activate Learning, is announced as the next AoC President

Association of Colleges has announced Sally Dicketts, Chief Executive of Activate Learning, as its next President. She will take up the role on 1 August 2020. 

2020 and beyond – what is the future for post-16 education?

There is no shortage of speculation about the future of our education system. This is particularly true for the further education sector, which has been through a turbulent period of late.

Going local – can we unlock the promises of devolution?

The government's productivity plan, published in July, set out a vision to extend the scope of localism in the further education sector.

If 'top girls' opt for jobs over degrees what can schools do to prepare them?

The headmistress of Britain's best performing school predicts that in the future more of the brightest schoolgirls will favour employment over university when they turn 18.In an interview with The Sunday Times, Clarissa Farr, headmistress of St Paul's Girls' School in London, suggested that it is becoming "acceptable for bright students not to go to university" and that heading straight into employment could be a "more exciting and faster route to the top".Her comments come at a time when more and more people are questioning the value for money of a university degree. With tuition fees of £9,000 a year, coupled with accommodation and other living costs, the average graduate will emerge from their education with up to £40,000 of debt.Quite rightly students - and their parents - will want to ensure that university study will significantly enhance employment and long-term career prospects.Cost however is clearly not the only driver for this shift in thinking amongst the upper echelons of Britain's private schooling, where annual fees are around £23,500 a year.Slowly, but surely, a paradigm shift is emerging. Big name employers, frustrated with the well-publicised skills gap between education and employment, are recognising the value of nurturing raw talent and shaping the technical and soft skills that they require in their employees.But if more young people are to enter employment at 18, including those from the best performing private schools, what should we be doing to prepare them?What does this shift mean for A-levels, designed as an entry qualification for higher education rather than a training ground for employment?Dare we believe that this shift could open the doors to a vocational education system that is already skilled in working with employers to shape career-focused learning programmes?We are starting to see a gradual change in the perceptions of vocational education in international markets, and the same could be happening in the UK.The shift is being led by large yet entrepreneurial companies such as Google, who are throwing down a challenge to schools to think more creatively about what young people need to learn.These employers champion disruptive thinking and prize creativity. They don't want an educational system that equips people to conform but want to foster a culture of innovation, resilience and problem solving.To realise the potential of this sea change may take a decade or more. And I don't believe it will reach all sectors. Government departments and big accountancy firms will, in my opinion, retain a preference for graduates from Russell Group universities. Other employers may take on new recruits at 18, training them up in the ways of the organisation before sponsoring them through a degree further down the line.But if the further education sector is to seize the opportunities of the change, we must present a compelling case for the alternative. We need to prove the success of a vocational route for getting students into top jobs. The examples are already there but we need to shout about them and build on them. If we do we may begin to see the impact of the brightest choosing a vocational route not just at 18, but at 16 too.

Social mobility undermined by spending plans

Last week David Cameron pledged to protect per-pupil funding for five to 16 year olds if the Conservatives are re-elected in May.The announcement means that post-16 education remains unprotected from potential cuts – the only section of education to be left in such a vulnerable position.We often talk about the importance of social mobility in our society. I believe that further education offers the greatest opportunities for social mobility. It equips school leavers with the skills and qualifications required for successful careers and enables adults to access higher education or retrain in light of changing circumstances.However the funding consistently fails to measure up.The latest spending plans relate to primary and secondary school education. We then go on to protect degree level programmes by ensuring that universities receive their £9,000 fee upfront. The Government claims it back from the student when they are in a position to start paying.Further education colleges do not have this same luxury and are at risk of being completely overlooked in the learning journey. In reality, the Raising of the Participation Age (RPA) now means that everyone has to stay in education or training until 18. Surely this is even more reason to address funding issues for the post-16 sector.We are used to working creatively and seeking alternative sources of funding. Investments in online learning may help to combat some shift, but we can only do so much with reducing budgets. Constant pressures on post-16 funding will inevitably mean fewer learning hours per student.The Association of Colleges has called for a "once in a generation" review of education funding to determine how money is spent at each stage. I, like many others in the sector, would welcome the move as a means to ending damaging changes to funding.One opportunity would be to review VAT rules. The Sixth Form Colleges' Association has launched a campaign –backed by some high profile celebrity alumni – urging the Department for Education to refund VAT costs. It claims the current VAT rules leave the average college with £335,000 less each year to spend on the education of its students. Changes to VAT rules could similarly ease the burden for further education colleges.As a sector we should all be getting behind a campaign for fairer funding and making the case for investment in a sector which significantly improves the career and life chances of young people.

Will government grants develop grit in our young people?

What makes some people give up at the first hurdle while others try, try and try again?

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