Nicky Morgan confirmed as education secretary

picture of nicky morgan

Nicky Morgan has been reappointed education secretary as prime minister David Cameron continues with his tried and tested frontbench. 

Ms Morgan secured her seat in Loughborough early on Friday morning, extending her majority in the east midlands town from just over 3,000 votes to more than 9,000. 

The former solicitor took over from Michael Gove at the Department for Education back in July, and her peformance over the last 10 months has led to her being backed once again by Mr Cameron. 

There had been rumours circulating on social media that Mr Gove could be making an unlikely return into Sanctuary Buildings, but Ms Morgan has been deemed a safe pair of hands in Whitehall, and has gone to great lengths to reach out to the profession. 

Among the first priorities waiting for her in her inbox when she returns to office on Monday will be a decision over whether to allow the Weald of Kent Grammar School to open a statellite school 10 miles away. 

A new education bill is also expected early in this Parliament, as the Conservatives look to push through as much legislation as possible, while their opponents are still in disarray.

And the education secretary will also be keen to pick up from where she left off on the issue of teachers’ workload, which she described as an “absolute priority”. 

Speaking to TES just before the election, Ms Morgan said: “It was a really important piece of work to do and I am very proud to have done it. There are lots of little things – curriculum, data management, marking – that will not be solved overnight. But I want to make very clear that if I am back in office after 7 May, continuing to work on what people told us in the Workload Challenge is absolutely a priority for me.”

What is Behind the Flipped Classroom?

Originally posted on The Learning Renaissance:

There has been much talk of the concept of the ‘flipped classroom’ as a way forward in learning. What does this entail?

At its simplest, the flipped classroom makes students the subject and not the object of learning.

They develop their skills through what might be seen as collaborative learning, with the teacher marshalling the learning rather than the class or the organisation of information. The deployment of independent research skills dominate.

This infographic shared at ETML gives a clear overview:

Via ETML: Two Key Advantages of A Flipped Classroom

For more on the Flipped Classroom concept at ETML: Educational Technology and Mobile Learning: Flipped Classroom

View original

Careers Live 2015

Originally posted on Adventures in Career Development:

Back in March I gave a presentation entitled Teachers, careers advisers and employers: Who should do what and why as part of the Careers Live 2015 event in Leeds.

The folks at Aspire iGen have now turned the event into a short film. It features me and lots of other people talking about how important careers work is.


Careers Live 2015

View original

Conservative victory means England’s school system will look like few others in the world

Originally posted on IOE LONDON BLOG:

Chris Husbands

No-one foresaw the scale of the Conservative victory – it exceeded even the limits of the party’s own expectations. Now, a majority Conservative government comes to power – unexpectedly and with sufficient lead over a divided and, for Labour and the Liberal Democrats, demoralised opposition. What will this newly confident government mean for education in general and schools in particular?

The Conservative education manifesto was long on aspiration. It promised that England would lead the world in mathematics and science; that there would be a place in a ‘good’ primary school for every child; that every ‘failing’ or coasting school would be turned into an academy to drive up standards; that universities would remain ‘world-leading’; and that further education would ‘improve’. But translating these – rightly aspirational – goals into policies will bring some difficult challenges.

View original 700 more words

The Most Effective Way to Take Notes in Class

Notetaking is a skill that students will take with them into their careers. Whether they are in meetings, participating in brainstorming sessions, or making annotations during reading, notes are an effective way of learning, retaining, and recalling ideas and concepts. This article talks about the three best techniques for taking notes in the classroom and how your students can benefit from them.

The Most Common Mistakes

Before we get into the techniques, let’s discuss the three big mistakes that students make when taking notes in class.

Mistake #1

Students try to write down every single thing the teacher says without actually  listening. Taking notes should be 75% listening and only 25% writing. When listening, students should constantly be working the new concepts in their head in order to solidify them. This is the best time to consider questions that they may have about ideas they do not completely understand. When writing, notes should be short, and right to the point. Each sentence should be no more than 1-5 words long. This forces students to record only the critical information.

Mistake #2

While taking notes, students do not think about the topics their teachers are saying.
It is important to take notes in order to remember ideas, but it is more important to understand the new complex ideas that are being introduced to them at a fast rate. Notes are useless if students do not understand the underlying concept.

Mistake #3

Students do not ask questions while the teacher is lecturing, when the ideas are fresh in their minds. This is so commonly said that it is almost cliche, but if students have a question, it is likely that another student has that same question. Regardless, questions show you (the teacher) that they are interested in learning, not pleasing. Students should not wait until after the lecture (if possible) to ask questions. If students wait to ask questions, they end up going through the rest of the lecture missing a piece of information.

The Three Best Note-taking Methods

Dynamic Outline


This is a fresh take on the classic outline format that many of us were taught as students. While the classic version worked fairly well for the most part, it was too constrained and boring. The new version makes use of three new tools:

1. Notation symbols, such as arrows, circles, boxes
2. Color
3. Mapping Web

These new tools allow students to stay organized and lined up, as the classic outline format was, but also allows for dynamic symbols and colors within the outline. The use of symbols and colors makes the dynamic outline more easily readable and interesting than the blocks of text. Essentially, the Dynamic Outline combines the classic outline with the Mind Mapping method discussed later in the article. The classic method is visually unappealing to go back and reference because it is essentially a block of text. This uses color and symbols to make sure that important words stand out. In addition, it replaces words with symbols to make it easier to understand.

Good: Organized format, simple
Bad: Not easy to reread

Page Split

This method is for students who like the organized format that the dynamic outline allows, but dislike the fact that it is unpleasant to go back and read once the notes are taken. The Page Split revamps the outline and makes it easier on the eyes by separating the main topics from the subtext. While this is great, it also means that there are points where students will waste paper space.


To set up the page, have your students draw a vertical line about 2.5 inches from the left margin. On the right side, notes are written down as they would be using the techniques from the dynamic outline format. The left side is what makes this particular technique useful. After notes are taken on the right side of the vertical line, students should write 1-3 word descriptions on the left side.

Why is this useful? Because when students refer back to their notes to review for exams or subsequent assignments, they are able to quickly scan their notes for keywords that pertain to the assignment, thus making recall more efficient.

Good: Visually appealing, quick recall
Bad: Inefficient use of paper space

Mind Map

Mind maps have always worked for me because I am a perfectionist. I hate the feeling of writing notes in a perfectly clean outline, only to have the teacher hop back and forth between topics, forcing me to go back and write in the margins or in a smaller font. This usually results in a messy blur.

Instead I use mind maps. While the result is ultimately much more messy than the first two techniques, it allows me to take notes on topics and subtopics in order. And when necessary, I’m able to go back and forth between topics as the teacher hops around during lecture. The most powerful aspect of mind-mapping is that it gives me the option of visually connecting ideas together via a circle and line. This makes it easy to form connections between ideas.


Usually when using this method, it’s best to start with the overall topic in the center. For example, if the topic is food, write that in the center and circle it. As the teacher begins to talk about sweets, vegetables, carbohydrates, or another food type, draw lines from the center circle to these subtopics. If there are overlapping topics, such as hamburgers (which belong to multiple food groups), then multiple lines can be connected to this subtopic. This is a great way to make visual connections between topics and keep them in your memory. That is the strength of this technique.

Good: Strong connections between topics
Bad: Messy, difficult to review

Note-Taking Tips

Now that your students have chosen a technique that fits with their style, here are some useful tips to communicate to them:

  1. Pay attention to what the teacher says and does, such as writing on the board or repeating information. This is usually important information, which means it is likely to end up on the exam.
  2. If possible, do some work before class, whether it is reading or looking at a set of math problems. This primes the brain and prepares it for class by familiarizing it to the topic.
  3. When taking notes, write in your own words. This reinforces understanding of the topic and strengthens the memory.
  4. Use a shorthand system that makes writing notes quicker. One technique is to remove all vowels from words. For example:
    • Without shorthand: Drinking water will improve your health.
    • With shorthand: Drnkng wtr wll imprv yr hlth

Doing this allows one to nearly double your note-taking speed, which means that students are better able to listen and take notes more efficiently. You can even turn texting into a type of shorthand.


Notetaking is an important skill that is useful in school as well as in many careers because it helps one remember important information. Notetaking is a very personal practice, so methods will vary from person to person depending on personality. It is important for students to own their style. The three methods above are great ways to start.

Youth unemployment now needs to be a priority YEUK calls on the Conservative government to work for young people in the UK

As David Cameron takes his place as Prime Minister for a 2nd term it is now time to ensure that the Conservative party recognise the importance of tackling youth unemployment.

David Cam

Youth unemployment simply did not see the reductions we were told to expect under the coalition, with over 743,000 young people currently NEET (not in education, employment or training), and high numbers of young people on zero hour contracts, underemployed or not accounted for.

We are all too aware of the financial and emotional costs of youth unemployment.  It is time to put some real effort into tackling this crisis. 

The work of Youth Employment UK CIC has never been more important.  We will continue to represent our members and make sure that the voice of young people is heard by the government.  We will keep the pressure on David Cameron to meet his manifesto promises and we will work closely as we did with the last government, the Ministers, departments and policy makers.

What was in the Conservatives manifesto for young people?

The following was taken from the BBC Newsbeat site who matched the party’s manifestos to the concerns of young people taken from a survey.

The term “young people” is used 20 times in the Conservative party manifesto.

  • Tax-free minimum wage for anyone working more than 30 hours a week
  • Keeping down the cost of everyday items like travel – a big deal for 33% of young voters
  • Controlling immigration – 28% of young people were worried about this
  • Improving housing affordability – a big issue for 24% of young voters
  • Improving the education system – important to 24% of young voters
    • Create three million apprenticeships and there would be no cap on university places
    • Guarantee that 16 and 17-year-olds would get a place on the National Citizen Service to learn new skills
    • University technical college for every city
  • Making the welfare system fairer – 18% of young people think this is important
  • Making sure that the benefits of economic growth are felt by all – 15%
    • Increase minimum wage
    • Personal income tax allowance would be raised to £12,500
    • No increases in VAT or National Insurance contributions
    • Pledge to create 1,000 jobs a day over the next five years

But what about the penalties? DWP sanctions, cuts to youth services and education budgets? 

The Conservative campaign has been built on a promise to continue with economic recovery, there can only be real recovery with a Youth Friendly UK.

We need to see stronger policies for youth, clear engagement with the needs and voices of young people and real action and investment to tackle youth unemployment.

Take a look at The Found Generation manifesto, which provides an excellent set of recommendations for tackling youth unemployment.

Copyright © 2015 Youth Employment UK CIC, All rights reserved. 

unsubscribe from this list   update subscription preferences  

Private sector vs the public sector – do they really differ?


Private sector vs the public sector – do they really differ?

Friday, 08 May 2015 09:27 In the UK there has always been the unshakable perception that the public and private sectors are very distinct from each other, that each requires a different mindset and approach, and cannot be compared. In this article I would like to challenge this perception by highlighting my own experiences working as a trainer and consultant in both sectors.

It’s true that if you were to focus purely on the ‘functions’ that each sector performs – and not on the fact that both involve money, people and time – the general understanding, and therefore, the answer to the question would be a resounding ‘yes’ – they are totally different!

That is unless you talk to somebody who has worked in both and, most importantly, that the person understands that, once you do factor in the elements of money (budget or turnover) and people (internal or external) and finally time, you have elements that are measurable! Thus from that perspective they don’t differ at all, and ‘should’ therefore be managed in exactly the same way. You would think!

As a consultant and trainer over the last 15 years or so I have been privileged enough to have worked from a development perspective in each of the two big Ps.

However, in my early days when trying to bring skills I had learnt and developed in the private sector into the public sector, I was understandably challenged, sometimes quite aggressively, because of my ‘perceived’ lack of experience in the non-profit arena. It was true that, at that point in my career, I had solely worked in the business environment and was known as a trainer specialising in sales and marketing and leadership (they only had to look at my website, it was no secret)!

They would challenge me with statements like: ‘what possible skills could you bring? It’s poles apart. We don’t have the same challenges. You cannot compare the two. We are not for profit. We have a different style of leadership. We don’t have shareholders. We don’t have paying customers’, etc.

Eventually (more slowly than surely) I persuaded some public sector-decision makers to let me work with their employees. I admit it took some quick adapting from my part. Not because it was, or is different, but because the terminology I needed to use had to reflect the different ways in which we measure money, people and time.

Which brings me to my point: any organisation, whether it is trying to make a profit, or if it is protecting the money it receives from the public coffers, has to measure the ways in which it does it.

Any accountant will tell you, it’s simply a case of taking money in or paying money out – it’s still money! You are either looking to make a profit or spend within a budget, either way money has to be protected, and therefore it has to be managed. The age-old adage of ‘if you can’t measure, you can’t manage’ is true in whatever organisation you work in.

Generally the private sector understands this, although, having said that, I am still surprised by how many businesses still fail in the 21st century to actually measure their success (or failure), but that is a separate discussion.

The response by public sector managers that ‘it’s different’ is more an emotive or defensive rather than a realistic one, and it is generally driven by different mindsets, agendas or simply by the fact that they have never thought about it in that way before.

These vary from:

  • ‘We don’t need to be measured, for what exactly?’

  • ‘I don’t want to be exposed’ – more a personal thought process than ever actually voiced, but you can see it written all over their faces.

  • ‘I am comfortable doing what I am doing; we have always done it this way and the system works’ – how efficiently run and how cost effective ‘the system’ is, is generally not a consideration.

  • ‘Our clients are not paying customers; so we have to manage them, not service them’ – which of course is completely untrue because their clients are paying customers. They are the British taxpayers, who are technically shareholders of the public sector.

  • ‘People don’t like to be measured. It’s de-motivational’ – this response is normally by people who are probably (dare I say) underperforming. The reality is that people are more motivated when they know exactly what is expected of them, and they can feel that they are contributing to the overall success of the organisation, and therefore have a sense of belonging and achievement.

Of course, it’s fair to say that I get some of these responses above from people in the private sector as well, not surprisingly in organisations that have no measures in place.

It’s only when you have the opportunity to work with both sectors at the same time, and within the same room, that you have the opportunity to demonstrate and to persuade this argument effectively – that there is no difference.

I initially had the perfect opportunity to do this around seven years ago, but not in the UK.

I started working for a number of Russian speaking conference organisations that bring delegates to Europe. Each group comprises a mixed collection of HR directors, financial directors, CEOs and business owners from both the state (public) and private sectors. The delegates come from Russia and Ukraine (yes they did and still do get on fine), Kazakhstan, Moldova, Azerbaijan and various other countries that I sometimes struggle to pronounce.

Now, and I say this in a positive way, they are probably the most challenging groups I have ever worked with. Not, just because of the varying cultures, language barriers (mainly from my perspective) and mindsets (some of the largest organisations from the former Soviet Union are still battling to get past the communist mentality that still persists). No, the key challenges I faced initially were the fact that I had both profit and non-profit leaders in the room, from government bodies and state run organisations to the oil and gas industry, transport, road building, education, banking, retail and whatever other type of industry you could possible think of, all chucked together for three or four days. The subjects I cover (I am still delivering these programmes today) vary from creative strategic planning, motivation, non-financial rewards, implementing key performance indicators through to leadership skills and team dynamics. Can you start to see the challenges?

I know that if there are any trainers reading this they will all be thinking ‘rather you than me mate!’ Because as trainers they will know that each of the delegates will initially see all of these subjects from a completely different perspective. And if I were just to plough on and deliver my content, without pre-empting the expected challenges, I would have an empty room in roughly 30 minutes.

To this end I have had to ‘fine-tune’ my delivery, debating and facilitating skills since working with these organisations, but most importantly I have to prove and convince them right at the front end of each conference that they are the same. They all offer a service and whatever that service is giving, or taking, it has a deliverable and a measurable attached to it.

Once they understand these critical points, the next step is to get them to recognise that, if that is the case, then each person in an organisation (public or private) must contribute to that in a measured way.

What they and their people do and how they do it will either effectively achieve the goals and objectives or not. Where the ‘not’ is generally because people, for the reasons I gave earlier, become blinded to the facts.

So until I get buy in and consensus in all the above, I cannot even think about starting discussing the content of the conference. Oh, and I forgot to mention the other challenge I have to contend with. I have to deliver all this through an interpreter! If it weren’t for the current disputes between Russia and the UK I would probably be up for a gong!

So to summarise, whether you are running a business, a public sector department or a government (which I deal with in my next article: ‘How should our country be run?), unless you can measure its input and its output successfully and if possible on a day-to-day basis, you cannot run it effectively.

Philip Peters is managing director of Leading National Training, which works successfully across both the private and public sectors

the apprenticeships bidding war the focus must be on quality, not quantity’

‘In the apprenticeships bidding war the focus must be on quality, not quantity’

The Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems all agree we need more apprenticeships. Each of the parties’ manifestos promises thousands if not millions more– but with the quantity assured to rise, the quality of these apprenticeships should be the next government’s focus.

The latest figures show that youth unemployment in the UK is still at 14.3 per cent (8.6 percentage points higher than the adult rate). IPPR’s research has shown that youth unemployment is lower in countries where the work-based route to employment is as clear as the academic one – which is why it’s great to see the three main UK parties focusing on the issue of apprenticeships.

However, we need to do more than simply encourage participation; we need to ensure that young people who choose an apprenticeship have access to high-quality training, leading to rewarding careers. High-quality apprenticeships can help to reduce youth unemployment, as well as give businesses the opportunity to develop the workforce skills needed to raise Britain’s flagging productivity.

Policy has, for too long, been focused on the quantity of apprenticeships and not on the quality. The parties’ manifestos do make attempts to address this: the Conservatives have pledged to replace lower-level, classroom based further education courses with high quality apprenticeships; Labour aims to create a gold-standard system of technical education and training; and the Lib Dems promise to expand the number of degree-equivalent Higher Apprenticeships.

The focus on quality is the right one, but policies need to be further-reaching if they are truly to make an impact. Quality is crucial because it can raise the status of work-based routes to employment – in both the eyes of employers as well as young people.

The coalition claims to have created lots of new apprenticeships, but nearly all of these have been taken up by over 25-year-olds. There has been almost no growth in the number of under-19s participating in apprenticeships between 2009-10 and 2013-14, and uptake among 19-24 year-olds has not been much stronger.

To make a real difference to youth unemployment, the government should aim for future growth in apprenticeships to be confined to the under-25s. To ensure the quality of these apprenticeships they should be at level 3 or higher, and they should last for a minimum of two years. Apprentices should spend 30 per cent of their time doing off-the-job training and spot checks should be carried out to enforce this.

Careers education must be embedded in the curriculum from a young age, and for secondary school pupils it should involve a greater degree of contact with local employers. Evidence from the UKCES Employer Skills Survey suggests that as many as four in ten employers taking on school leavers described the recruits as poorly prepared. Involving employers in careers education at a young age will provide students with up-to-date information on opportunities in the local job market, and help employers to develop the skills needed in their local economy.

Raising the status of apprenticeships by ensuring they are high quality will help to provide a meaningful non-academic route in to work for young people. This will give thousands of young people an opportunity to work, earn and learn; reducing youth unemployment and providing the skills that businesses are crying out for.

Izzy Hatfield is a researcher at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)

OUT ON 14 MAY: ‘Recruiting Safely and Fairly: a practical guide to employing ex-offenders’

Advice on carrying out criminal records checks on prospective and current employees. If you can’t find what you want here, call us on 0845 600 3194, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm or email

Standardising practice



Standardising practice

Thursday, 07 May 2015 10:34 This month, I thought I would write a piece on standardising practice to help anyone new to this aspect of their teaching, training, assessment or quality assurance role.

What is standardisation?

Standardising practice ensures all teachers, trainers, assessors and quality assurers interpret and follow the requirements of the programme or qualification in the same way. It also helps ensure all those involved are consistent and fair to all learners throughout their time with them. It enables people to work as a team rather than on their own, and enables them to give an equitable service. However, any individual learner needs will need to be taken into account. This may mean differentiating some teaching, learning and assessment materials to suit the particular needs of learners. Initial assessment can be used to identify any needs, this should not be limited to the beginning of a programme, but be regularly checked as needs can change.

Standardisation activities

Various activities can be carried out, for example during meetings, or as part of peer observations or using technology.

Standardisation meetings can be held to:

  • discuss the qualification/programme requirements

  • prepare materials for induction and initial assessments

  • create schemes of work, session plans and course materials

  • interpret policies and procedures

  • design or revise assessment and quality assurance documents

  • discuss decisions made by other assessors

  • compare how documents and records have been completed.

The difference between standardisation meetings and team meetings is that team meetings are to discuss issues relating to the management of the programme, for example, awarding organisation updates, targets, success rates and any learner issues.

Other standardisation activities can include:

  • creating assessment materials, assignments and recommended answers

  • new staff shadowing experienced staff

  • peer observations and feedback to ensure consistency of practice

  • role play activities such as assessment planning; making a decision; giving feedback; dealing with a complaint

  • internal quality assurers agreeing how their practice will be consistent to support their assessors.

Records should be maintained of all standardisation activities and any identified actions, which should be acted upon. An external quality assurer will want to view the records, if it’s applicable to the qualification.


Technology can be used for standardisation activities and is ideal if not all the team members can attend a meeting or activity at the same time, or are located in different buildings.

When standardising the decisions assessors have made based on electronic evidence, it’s important to be sure the work does belong to the learner, and that the assessor has confirmed the authenticity of it.

Some examples of using technology for standardisation activities include:

  • holding meetings via Skype or videoconferencing facilities to discuss the interpretation of aspects of a programme or qualification

  • using online webinars to standardise delivery and assessment approaches

  • creating, updating and sharing documents online e.g. schemes of work, session plans and course materials

  • taking digital recordings or videos of role play activities, or case studies, for example, assessor decisions and giving developmental feedback. Assessors could view them remotely to comment on strengths and limitations of a particular method

  • making visual recordings of how to complete forms and reports. If a staff member is unsure how to fill in a form they could access a video to see an example

  • recording standardisation activities and uploading them to an intranet or virtual learning environment (VLE) for viewing/listening to later.

Benefits of standardisation

The main benefit is that it gives a consistent experience for all learners, no matter who their teacher, trainer or assessor is. It’s also a good way of maintaining professional development, and ensuring compliance and accountability with awarding organisations and regulatory authorities.

Other benefits include:

I hope this article has given you some ideas to help you standardise your practice with your colleagues, or at least confirm what you are doing is good practice. If you have any other ideas, please let me know.

The next article from Ann Gravells will be: The role of external quality assurers

Ann Gravells is an author, creator of teacher training resources and an education consultant – she can be contacted via her website:

Education App – FindMe Pro for iPad, supports children with Autism

FindMe (Autism)

FindMe (Autism)

Recently added to the UKEdChat Apple EduApps page is FindMe, an app designed to support nonverbal autistic children. The app has been developed by a team of psychologists at the University of Edinburgh and aims to help young children with autism practice simple social skills.

Speaking to, researchers found that all children that used the iPad learnt new words and some produced sentences. “For some parents, it was the first time they’d been able to converse with their children. With the onset of iPads, that kind of communication may become possible for greater numbers of children with autism and their families,” said Ann Kaiser, a professor at Vanderbilt Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

The app is also available free (click here), but the full version is priced UK£7.99*, and is available by clicking the App Store image below

TODAYS THE DAY!  Here’s your final run down of what each party “could” mean to our sector..  THE CHOICE IS YOURS…



The Party Pledges and FE – What We Know So Far

The Election looms and the parties have been out on the campaign trail, declaring their hopes, dreams and ambitions for the country and trying to convince us that their party is the answer to all our problems.

Quite excitingly, since the parties have all declared their love for apprenticeshipsand recognised the country’s need to get more students in vocational and technical courses, Further Education has popped up a fair few times.

The various ideals for FE being promoted by each party are interesting, so let’s start things off by taking a look at the promises and pledges that have come out so far…



  • 3 million apprenticeship starts by the end of the next Parliament
  • No protection for the adult skills budget
  • University Technical Colleges within reach of every city in England
  • Continued replacement of low-level FE courses with apprenticeships
  • Continued improvement of FE through new National Colleges
  • Publication of more earnings and destination data for FE Colleges
  • Abolition of employers’ national insurance contributions for apprentices under 25
  • A freeze on spending for five to 16-year-olds at its current level


  • Same number of young people leaving School or College starting apprenticeships as going to University
  • Protection of education budget, ringfencing education spending up to the age of 19
  • No protection for the adult skills budget.
  • FE Colleges would focus on training for local jobs, guided by local business needs
  • Support proper apprenticeships lasting two years and launch a Technical Baccalaureate, a vocational award for 16 to 18-year-olds, that will combine a gold-standard qualification accredited by employers, with a quality work placement
  • Introduce a new, independent system of careers advice, offering personalised face-to-face guidance on routes into University and apprenticeships.
  • Students will continue to study English and Maths to age 18 and undertake work experience between the ages of 14 and 16.

Green Party

  • Committed to increasing investment in Further Education to ensure that everyone gets a fair start in life.
  • Opposed to privatisation and commercialisation of Schools, Colleges, and Universities
  • Restore funding to the levels it needs to be, to, at least, matching the amount per pupil in secondary Schools.
  • Abolish fees in FE and write off all outstanding debt and resulting interest relating to 24+ student loans
  • Reintroduce EMA at a level which would be effective in supporting disadvantaged students
  • Protect and improve the current support provision for disabled students and bring FE provision into the control of local authorities
  • Call for an immediate increase in pay to bring FE lecturers onto the same levels of pay as School teachers, and for non-teaching staff to be brought on to local government pay scales.

Liberal Democrats

  • 3 million apprenticeship starts in the next Parliament through the extension of the apprenticeship grant for employers (AGE).
  • Increase in number of apprentices from minority backgrounds and a focus on apprenticeships at level four and above in areas where there are skills shortages.
  • Continuing with government plans to scrap employer national insurance contributions for apprentices under 25
  • Ringfence spending on two to 19-year-olds based on rising learner numbers, allowing for a forecast increase in pupils of around 460,000 by 2020, so an increase in real terms. Once the deficit is dealt with in 2017/18, education spending would be increased in line with economic growth.
  • Significant investment in skills by both government and the private sector, enhancing adult skills training and FE Colleges.
  • Review of VAT treatment of general FE and sixth form Colleges
  • Establishment of a cross-party commission on lifelong learning funding
  • Development of National Colleges with the opening of more

As you can see, the three main parties have called on FE to deliver on their various ideals, often transforming the workings and nature of the sector in the process.

Of course, the policies are dictated by each party’s biggest goals. The Conservatives, with their stress on reducing the deficit, are not promising the same allocation of funds to the sector as the other parties. Instead, they focus on increasing apprenticeships and stress the need for FE Colleges to take proactive steps and accommodate this new demand. They admit that for FE Colleges to survive the cuts needed to reduce the deficit, they need be proactive and hunt out the funding and loans available, which means providing more apprenticeship and private training.

Labour got us quite excited when they gave FE a mention in their manifesto when talking about Technical degrees and apprenticeships Colleges. They want to bring FE into the Higher Education spectrum by having them play a large role in provision of Technical Baccalaureate, and tie local business needs into an independent careers advice service.

The Liberal Democrats also want a careers advice service, but unlike the Conservatives and in line with the Green Party – the Lib Dems want to increase spending in FE. Back in line with the Conservatives, the Lib Dems want to increase the number of National Colleges, but they do not have the same dedication to the University Technical Colleges as the Conservatives. The Conservatives have declared their desire to roll these out, despite them facing issues with enrolment levels and results.

The closure of some of these UTC Colleges demonstrates the key point in all this – that unless people enrol onto these courses and apprenticeships, they are not going to be the all-singing-all-dancing solution they are touted as. As David Phillips points out, to make them effective, we need to change the public perception of apprenticeships, currently viewed as the “B road to success” compared to the A road of academic study and Higher Education.

To tackle this, the Conservatives plan the publication of more earnings and destination data for FE Colleges, whereas Labour and the Lib Dem’s would provide a careers service to educate the public. They all stress the importance of involving businesses in the apprenticeship scheme and careers service.

However – we are wondering whether these methods are enough to tackle the public bias towards Higher Education – and whether the policies are missing a vital ingredient in making this highly touted solution work.

Newcastle City Council backs innovative IT Apprentice Hub



The UK’s first IT Apprentice Hub has been backed by Newcastle City Council which is providing the training facilities for the Rising Star students studying in the first Newcastle based course.

As an Apple Registered Training Centre, Newcastle City Learning Centre possesses state-of-the-art IT facilities and expertise to provide learning opportunities to both a large city-wide collaborative of schools and more recently to the young people, training providers and partners involved in this exciting new IT Apprentice Hub. 

There is a 2,000 North East vacancy skills gaps in the IT sector alone and the new IT hub has been developed by regional employer network Dynamo North East in partnership with leading training company Baltic Training Services.

Louise Ball operations director for Baltic Training Services said: “The North East has a vibrant growing IT sector and what IT employers need is appropriately qualified young people able to hit the ground running when they secure entry to paid apprenticeship level 3 roles in order to sustain the growth.

“The idea of the IT Apprentice Hub is to fill this requirement providing a pool of talent that can be drawn on right here in the North East therefore not forcing employers to look beyond regional boundaries.

“We are delighted that Newcastle City Council has collaborated on this project providing some wonderful facilities that the young people on this course will really benefit from. It amounts to efficient use of existing resources and we are very grateful to the Council for having the vision to get involved.”

The first Newcastle IT Apprentice Hub launched this week and is entirely government funded coming at no cost to the students.

It is comprised of a 15 week Rising Stars programme offering an intensive IT skills training course with technical content aimed at preparing young adults for their first role in the IT sector. The North East is the first region to attempt this type of approach in IT and if successful it could be rolled out across the UK. It has already been successfully piloted in Newcastle at Quorum Business Park where eight young people went through the programme with seven successfully employed as IT apprentices.

IT Hub trainer Michael Carrick, who is currently delivering the first course in Newcastle’s Computer Learning Centre, said: “A real disconnect exists across the UK between young people who present the raw talent for the industry and the desire of those people to access the industry. Common misconceptions that IT is boring, or only for those strong at math, or not really for women, are all inhibitors that prevent people from applying in the first place.

“On top of this it is labour intensive for employers to bring someone without experience and specialist skills into the IT part of their business. The IT Hub addresses these issues for employers and students.”

Travis Gallagher, 17, from Whitley Bay is one of the Rising Stars on the Newcastle IT Hub. He said: “I got 10 GCSEs but then really struggled with being in a school environment. This course has been great so far I’m treated like an adult in the workplace.

“The fact that I’ll get the opportunity to secure Microsoft accredited qualifications that would have cost hundreds for nothing is just fantastic. We get £40 a week toward living and travel and the opportunity to secure a paid IT apprenticeship with an employer at the end.”

Pat Richie chief executive of Newcastle City Council said: “Our education division is working hard to maximise the Council’s resources in order to nurture the talent in the young people of Newcastle and the wider region. The IT Hub which has been developed with a specific need in mind, in terms of the region’s IT skills gap, is a fantastic way to harness this young talent. It will provide a launch pad, with the help of our facilities at the City Learning Centre, for many careers in IT.”

Giselle Stewart, board member of Dynamo North East and general manager of Newcastle gaming design studio Reflections part of Ubisoft, said: “We are absolutely delighted to help in any way we can to reach out to young people and get them on the first rung on the road to a career in IT.

“We must also make it easier for employers, especially small enterprises to take on IT apprentices, the new IT Hub launched in Newcastle and Sunderland is a fantastic way to streamline this process for employers and nurture the growth in the IT sector in the North East.”

To find out more about the IT Apprentice Hub
visit the Baltic Training Services website or call the general number 01325 731050 or email

Attempts to professionalise the Further, Adult, Community Education and Skills (FACES) sector have too often adopted a deficit analysis, with an assumption that tutors are not professional, and with a lack of a fully participatory, democratic, ethos.


JoelPetrieAttempts to professionalise the Further, Adult, Community Education and Skills (FACES) sector have too often adopted a deficit analysis, with an assumption that tutors are not professional, and with a lack of a fully participatory, democratic, ethos.

In a forthcoming chapter to mark the centenary of Dewey’s Democracy and Education (1916), Frank Coffield argues that teacher professionalism has been undermined with the abolition of the General Teaching Council (GTC) and the collapse of the Institute for Learning (IfL):

“Right from the start the IfL failed to establish itself as an independent organisation, free from government influence. It could not even get its own name right. Its core function was to further the development of tutors in FE, so it should have been called the Institute for Tutors or Teaching. That said, it did much good work… It needs to be replaced, preferably by a body, established by FE tutors themselves, run on democratic lines and with the professional knowledge and expertise to stand up to both government and management. I offer as a working title: Tutors’ Voices…”

In his recent piece for FE News Frank further argues for the establishment of an independent, democratic association to promote Tutors’ Voices; a network that might become “a coalition of resistance to government bunglers and hectoring inspectors.”
We have taken up Frank’s challenge, and are seeking the views of FE colleagues about a new democratic professional association. The association is categorically not intended to replace any former FE professional bodies, or to encroach on the vital work around pay and conditions of sector trade unions, or to replicate the service functions of government funded sector bodies. Neither do we have any appetite for a role around issues such as professional regulation. It is intended that the association should become, in time, the collective voice of powerful, democratic professionalism for the FACES sector. Should there be any attempt in the future to compel lecturers into a fee-paying, mandatory professional body, we should be better placed to resist such a move.

Why is a professional association important?

  • Voice of democratic professionalism: To enable FACES practitioners to have a strong, democratic, collective and autonomous professional voice on issues of practice and policy.

  • Research and pedagogy: To encourage a network of practitioners and researchers committed to a culture of discussion, sharing, reflective inquiry and joint practice development informed by research and linked to policy.

  • Influence policy: To defend and promote well-resourced vocational, academic and community-based education and comprehensive lifelong learning and education for democratic citizenship. To champion different types of knowledge (propositional, procedural, craft knowledge) and the three dimensions of professionalism (knowledge of subject; knowing how to teach it well and how students learn it; and involvement in local and national politics as they affect education as a whole).

Our proposed founding principles

1. Democratic (both as its fundamental operating ethos, and as an ethic of professional service to students: our professionalism should both promote expertise in teaching, learning and assessment and foster independent, critical thinkers who are also active citizens in our democracy)

2. Inclusive (open to all sector practitioners, and interested HE researchers, and HE FE teacher trainers)

3. Representative (decision making / elected posts in due course solely open to chalk face FE teachers)

4. Participatory (encourage engaged associates, and principally organised by lay activists)

5. Egalitarian (actively promote equality, and with no grades of membership, or “patrons”)

6. Transparent (establish electronic archives of all key association documents)

7. Independent (no government funding, and no formal links with any sector body, trade union etc.)

8. Collaborative (committed to a culture of discussion, sharing, reflective inquiry and development informed by research and linked to policy)

9. Campaigning (with the professional knowledge and expertise to challenge college managements, sector bodies, and government)

10. Non-mandatory (no cost to join, but in the long run the association may need to have a subscription basis to be sustainable)

Projected opening campaigns 

There are two obvious initial campaigns we intend to pursue:

1. The powerful professional bodies in law and medicine have control over standards and practice. We need to assert our right to control teaching and learning, by demanding full statutory representation on all proposed sector educational reforms. This should be pressed after the forthcoming General Election.

2. The association should mobilise and lead the call for an end to all grading of teaching observations, instead promoting participatory and empowering forms of teacher development. 
Research in the sector suggests that this is an urgent priority

If you are interested in engaging with us please email: 
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ” >TutorsVoices@mail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ” >

Joel Petrie teaches in the PCET sector in the NW and is the co-editor of Further Education and the Twelve Dancing Princesses, published last week by Trentham / IOE