Stop being ‘misty-eyed’ about the past, FE told

ruth silver fetl colleges

The FE sector must look to the future instead of looking back “misty-eyed” at the past, according to the president of the Further Education Trust for Leadership.

Writing in the thinktank’s first publication, FETL president Dame Ruth Silver says there has never been a “golden age of further education”, and making direct comparisons with the past is “questionable”.

“The sector is imperfect, variable in both quality and mission, and it has never remained the same for long,” she writes. “It’s the very nature of further education to change and to continuously redefine and rethink itself.”

Dame Ruth, who was principal of Lewisham College for 17 years, says the sector should be “loyal to the future” by constantly moving forward to new agendas and contexts.

Although she believes is it important to understand and learn from the past, Dame Ruth continues: “There is little point in looking back simply to admire, misty-eyed, what went before.

“There are, I suspect, two kinds of folk around us: those who long for the past and those who desire a future. We, at FETL, are firmly of the latter camp.”

FETL is an independent charity set up last year to strengthen leadership within the FE sector.

Its remit is to carry on the work of the scrapped Learning and Skills Improvement Service, using £5.5 million of the service’s leftover budget.

Its first publication, Remembered Thinking: on further education and leading, features excerpts from works by QC and Labour peer Helena Kennedy, former education secretary David Blunkett, Conservative minister John Hayes and Liberal Democrat peer Margaret Sharp, as well as responses from leading figures within the FE sector.

In her introduction to the document, Dame Ruth writes that not all FE and skills providers have been “loyal to the future”, and not all leaders have been prepared to face change or to play a part in building the future of the sector.

“We have not always been assertive enough,” she writes: “[It is] time to change.”

She says the sector must get better at talking to politicians and making them see the value in what it does by making a clear case for how important it is.

“We need to capture and utilise what the sector knows, bring it to the surface, and give colleagues the time and opportunity to think that they have never had before,” she adds.

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About Paul Champion

Some have called me a leader, and a entrepreneur, they say I have integrity, presence and skills to ensure continuous improvement and success in whatever challenges I face. They also tell me that I am positive, resilient and motivating. I say, I'm just a normaI guy from Gateshead in the North of England, who started as an apprentice engineer. I have been in the right place at the right time and in the wrong place at the wrong time! I have successfully initiated and led complex organizations and situations to completion and success, and I have been in some jobs where success seemed untouchable. Mainly though, I have tried to learn everyday, help people to progress and learn the skills they need to be successful. I have had the privilege of working with some great people locally across the UK and more recently internationally in Asia, Europe and now USA, where I am lucky enough to work for where I am head of 3aaa USA. This website is just me having an outlet to talk about all those thoughts, ideas and things I learn that pass through my head every day when I face the challenge of doing business. I will also rant on about how great apprenticeships are, and how you can help change peoples lives through them. After all thats how I got to do the great things that I have done, and also I am still an apprentice everyday! All I ask is that if you find it interesting then leave a comment and share what you read. THANK YOU.

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