Schools Training

Love letters for further education

14 FEB 2014

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Joy Mercer, director of policy at the Association of Colleges

It gives everyone a second chance. I taught a woman whose husband of 12 years had just walked out on her. She went from being a classic yummy mummy to having nothing. She didn’t even know how to use a cash point and had never used a computer. She joined a course where people learned how to word process and use spreadsheets, but the focus was also on increasing their self-esteem. She went on to get a receptionist’s job at a national hotel chain and later returned to college to study business administration. She is now a well-paid personal assistant in London.

From retaking GCSEs to undertaking an access to higher education course, further education changes lives. That’s why I am proud to have worked in the sector for such long time. And that’s why we need to fight for it. To allow people to change their careers, to help young people who have been failed by the school system and to ensure that people have the skills, not only to have a fulfilling job, but to be happy parents, neighbours and citizens.

Gordon Hurst, assistant director of business development at The Manchester College

The ability to turn ideas into actions, and to do it quickly, is one that the private sector is famous for. Further education on the other hand is rarely associated with this capacity for prompt and targeted action. The received wisdom within government is that the sector is a handy workhorse, but one that needs regular prods to get it going.

Like most received wisdom, it isn’t true. There are few institutions in our society that are as proactive, dynamic and ready to reinvent themselves as the further education sector. I didn’t know what to expect when I joined the sector back in the 1980s, having had no personal experience of further education. What I found is a sector that is in a constant state of inventiveness and action. We really should give ourselves more credit for this.


Read full article: The Guardian