Sally Dicketts is chief executive of Active Learning

Ofsted last week published a report identifying best practice in promoting enterprise-related skills and the entrepreneurial capabilities of our 16-19 year olds.

The report follows visits by Ofsted inspectors to 15 further education colleges, including Oxford & Cherwell Valley College, at the start of the year.

The report notes that promoting a culture of enterprise is a key focus of government and industry as a means of improving economic prosperity and growth. Young people entering the workforce should be at the centre of this culture change, and as such FE providers have a major role to play.

This was our starting point as we set out to put enterprise and entrepreneurship not only at the heart of our teaching, learning and assessment, but at the heart of how we do business.

Our Making Enterprise Work strategy document, published in June, recognises that the economic downturn and immense pace of technological change means that today’s young people face a very different jobs market than their parents did.

It is now unlikely that people will enjoy long careers with a single organisation. Instead our students will have to shape their own career paths and be prepared to invest in themselves in order to get on.   Employees will have to collaborate more to come up with innovative solutions to problems and will need attributes like creativity, team work and initiative.

Our work towards building a culture and curriculum of enterprise isn’t just about developing entrepreneurs (although this plays an important part). It is based on a belief that entrepreneurial learning will help our students to develop the attributes they need to survive in business, whether that’s on their own or as an employee.

So how have we done it? One of the biggest steps has been to set up a Community Interest Company called SweetFE. SweetFE is a social enterprise, and as such operates outside of the regulations associated with large organisations. This has enabled us to ‘walk the talk’ by remaining fleet of foot and taking managed risks – all important aspects of enterprise.

SweetFE is a commercial arm, able to generate income to support our Student Fund. But more importantly it is leading a culture change by engaging staff in new ways of thinking and behaving. The company now has a dedicated team of 50 ambassadors drawn from academic and business support roles, as well as from the local business community. These ambassadors meet to develop new ideas and work together to put them into practice. Among the success stories has been SweetFE Learning, an online resource where students can have their work published - overseen by peer editors - for use by other students across the UK.

Within the classroom a new curriculum model, 4one1, is ensuring that the principles of enterprise are embedded in all curriculum areas. Through 4one1 students enjoy four weeks of intensive learning, followed by a fifth week of stretch and challenge where they are encouraged to develop new skills or spend more time on a key piece of work. In the sixth week of the pulse students take part in activities with real-life business scenarios at their core. So far this academic year these have included taking part in an Expansive Learning Conference – as delegates, hosts and organisers – and making and selling items at festive markets.

We believe that this way of teaching and learning also needs to be supported by the right facilities and environment. That’s why we have invested in new Learning Zones across all campuses, equipped with the latest technology to aid students’ research and presentation skills. The zones are supported by Learning Coaches; recent graduates who are expert in the use of technology and its applications. This investment, in part supported by SweetFE, has created more space for independent learning and offers students the chance to develop the contemporary skills demanded by employers.

Our journey to enterprise continues. As part of our commitment we are working with other, like-minded FE providers, through the Gazelle Colleges Group. This cluster of further education colleges are using entrepreneurial principles to drive educational reform and giving students opportunities to develop the skills they need for the 21st century workplace.

Importantly, as we develop, we are seeing some fantastic examples of young people raising their aspirations and having the confidence to step out and start something new. Our role is to create an environment where enterprise skills are valued and nurtured, and to model that approach across all aspects of college life. We believe that this will help our students to succeed, as well as provide industry with a new generation of creative thinkers needed to deliver the growth it so desires.

Sally Dicketts is principal of Oxford & Cherwell Valley College


You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

EKC Group has published a new article: Student Heroes Save Young Man’s Life 3 hours 16 minutes ago

Latest Education News

Further Education News

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.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

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 May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 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.

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:

Main Features

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.

FE Voices

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.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

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.

Education Video Interviews

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.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page