Written by Ash Austin, Commercial Director of Collab Group

How many FE college CEOs from a BAME background do you know? I’d hazard a guess that the answer is, “Not many.” Diversity and Inclusion in the FE world is very personal for me, which is why I’m so pleased to be writing about the Black and Ethnic Leadership Pilot Programme just launched by Collab Group.

The programme is part of the Collab Group Strategic Plan, with the aim of identifying and developing future talent amongst our network of colleges. Through collective action we believe we can enhance the capacity and capability of our colleges, especially the leadership skills of the next generation of our college leaders. Participants will be able to network and engage with other potential FE leaders across our group and with leaders within the wider community, be inspired by key speakers from leading organisations in other sectors and get involved in coaching, mentoring, reverse mentoring and shadowing with existing FE CEOs, principals and senior management.

A better path

Why is this personal to me? Because as Collab Group’s Commercial Director I have been nominated by my CEO to be part of the programme, and because of my own BAME working class background, born and bred in South West London and understanding acutely the challenges BAME young people face with vocational qualifications. I went to an all-boys’ comprehensive in Fulham that was one of the worst in London. I was one of only 5 out of 120 boys in my year who achieved A to C at GCSE. I am also dyslexic and the FE route through an apprenticeship would probably have been a better path for me than the university my parents insisted I go to.

Because here’s the rub. For many BAME families there is a culture that university is the only route for bright children, a snobbery that apprenticeships aren’t good enough, and by association a belief that a career in FE is unappealing. You and I know that couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s a misconception that needs to be tackled with more BAME role models in the top jobs in our sector. That is where our Black and Ethnic Leadership Programme comes in, following the successful leadership programme we ran at Collab Group last year with 35 future CEOs from our member colleges.

Collab Group is a membership organisation representing a network of leading FE colleges and college groups in the UK. And out of that number we have one BAME CEO. So yes, when it comes to doing better, we understand the value of practising what we preach. Our BAME leadership pilot runs from October 2021 until April 2022, with 12 participants nominated by their CEO or principal. We hope it is only the start.

Sharing experiences

Motivated to do more myself, I have recently joined the BAME Apprenticeship Network as an Executive Committee member to try to help in any way I can. The network sees apprentices of all ages sharing their experiences to create a strong community to further this agenda. Because if we don't have more BAME role models, things won't improve.

Ash Austin, Commercial Director of Collab Group

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

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 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:

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