Rania Hafez is a senior lecturer in education and programme leader for the MA Education at the University of Greenwich

Back to work blues after too brief a summer break to find Further Education facing even more existential challenges. Funding slashed; provision restricted; targets raised; and never mind Ofsted moving the goal posts, they have totally redesigned the playing field.

It's not surprising that most of us will be starting the year with trepidation and exasperation bordering on the despair. Our sense of autonomy and agency further diminished, our professionalism seemingly sliding ever backwards the steep slope of instrumentalism and commodification. Sometimes I think we might as well just give up.

Yet there are strong glimmers of hope emanating from the sector. A renewed resilience tinged with gentle optimism characterise new initiatives. From principals who call on us to 'imagine a better future for FE' and 'the possibilities of new types of partnership and governance' to the launch of Tutor Voices, a grassroots professional network, that does what it says on the tin: acts as the voice of teachers and tutors in the sector. Suddenly we seem to be readying to take on the defeatist narrative and offer new alternatives to the status quo.

So is this the start of the counter-revolution? Well not if we are imagining a new future for FE using old certainties. To create the Further Education we all aspire to, we must dare to imagine and name the unimaginable.

To those who call on us to limit our scope to economic and social realities and rebuild FE within the current context, I say deckchairs and sinking ships come to mind. Our downfall as educators has been in our acceptance of an imposed professional context. We gave up on our authority as teachers and educators and the gatekeepers of knowledge and pedagogy. And by that I don't just mean authority in the classroom over students. I am talking about that inherent confidence in one's mastery of the subject and control of the language attached to it. And the subject here is Education.

Like Samson we have been sitting at the barber's chair far too long. We have accepted a succession of orthodoxies as immutable concrete realities. We know the emperor is stark naked, yet we constantly enter into futile arguments over his coat's hemline. The revolution will only happen if we dare to challenge those orthodoxies and propose a vision for FE where education is back at the centre of what we do. It's time to slay a few holy cows (more on those in another article maybe) and re-establish an old faith. Faith in knowledge; faith in teaching.

To start with we really must oppose the economic determinism of education. As many eminent academics have established, there is no link between education and the economy. The reason young people aren't getting jobs is because there aren't any. It is not about their lack of qualifications or our bad teaching. It is the economy. And it is high time we reject outright the coupling of education to the economy and stop using that language when we talk about our sector and our practices. What makes my student employable is not that I taught her a set of skills, but that I enlightened her mind and equipped her to question, create and learn.

We must also reject the social engineering aspect of education. It is not our role to tamper with our students' happiness, diet or personality. And we are not the thought police. Education cannot and should not be an emotional band aid we administer to gaping social wounds. Education is about enlightening minds and hope that the hearts and souls may follow. But it is not our job to artificially engineer it, because that stops being education and starts becoming something more sinister.

Some will find it difficult to abandon the old language simply because that's all we've known. For too long 'they' have been dictating the script and defining the very parameters of our thoughts. To imagine and build a new Further Education we need to jettison the mantras and fads routinely churned out by managers, civil servants and Ofsted. We must redefine the terms, on our terms.

And to do that we will need to go back to basics. The fundamentals of being a professional educator. Re-learn the language of knowledge, of ideas, of the mind. Regain our faith in ourselves as teachers. Have the courage to stand by timeless educational principles. Courage to disagree, to argue, to fight for an unimaginable, brilliant, Further Education.

Rania Hafez is a senior lecturer in education and programme leader for the MA Education at the University of Greenwich

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 days ago

RT @FENews: NGWLive: Network Rail: NGWLive: Network Rail https://t.co/zqS6YwqgxP
View Original Tweet

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 days ago

City of London Corporation provides Square Mile schoolchildren with food vouchers during half term break:… https://t.co/QilxKc8yaD
View Original Tweet

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.

Podcasts

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.

Events

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