2019 Spring Term 2

The know zone

  • Policy refresh
    ASCL's newly appointed Pay and Conditions Specialist Louise Hatswell shares top tips on making sure that your pay and appraisal policies are up to scratch. More
  • Internal data
    Ofsted is consulting on its plans for a new inspection framework, due to commence in September 2019. As part of the draft proposals, the inspectorate is proposing not to look at schools' internal data. Here, Stephen Rollett explores the reasoning behind this proposal, why some leaders are concerned and what members might do in response. More
  • Social partnership
    Colleges across the UK currently educate and train around 2.7 million people and are calling for 'a new social partnership' with students, employers, unions and governments. Kevin Gilmartin examines how this partnership can enable us to become a successful, productive and lifelong learning society. More
  • Nature nurture
    ASCL Council Member Lilian Taylor-Bell is Headteacher of Leyland St James' (Aided) Primary in Lancashire, where much of the learning takes place outside the classroom. Here she shares her school's insights and talks about being on ASCL Council. More
  • Recruitment retention
    What are your thoughts on the government's Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy: Will it help to alleviate recruitment and retention pressures at your school or college? Does it go far enough? Here, ASCL members share their views... More
  • We're here for you
    Contacting the Hotline: ASCL members who are concerned about leadership issues should call 0116 299 1122 or email hotline@ascl.org.uk More
  • Tempus fugit
    Schools obviously operate in their own unique time zones. How else can you explain why the exam season comes around so quickly, why pupils grow facial hair seemingly overnight and why it suddenly takes longer for experienced teachers to climb the stairs? More
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Colleges across the UK currently educate and train around 2.7 million people and are calling for ‘a new social partnership’ with students, employers, unions and governments. Kevin Gilmartin examines how this partnership can enable us to become a successful, productive and lifelong learning society.

Social partnership

A recent poll by the Association of Colleges (AoC) of 534 decision makers at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) revealed that six in ten say that their biggest concern is finding employees with the right skills, while 58% believe that the UK will get left behind if the government does not do something to address the issue (http://tinyurl.com/yyt26g92). It is timely therefore that a new report entitled, Developing a Four Nations College Blueprint for a Post-Brexit Economy (http://tinyurl.com/y4kw5l4b), produced by further education leaders in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, outlines the best ways for the government to address these fears and to deliver a strong economy and robust labour market, whatever the Brexit outcome.

What are the top recommendations in the report?

Unsurprisingly, better funding of all full-time and part-time students in both further and higher education is called for. This would also provide an entitlement to maintenance grants up to the equivalent of the national living wage for all UK citizens.

The link to labour market needs is crucial and the second recommendation calls for a lifetime learning entitlement – in effect a legal entitlement to accredited education and training. Individuals would be able to access cash, allowing them to engage with education and training at the right time for them. This would be funded by ringfencing part of the adult education budget.

Given the continual re-invention of job roles, the third recommendation argues for a national retraining programme. This would form a relatively short-term investment to improve productivity and fill significant emerging skills gaps in priority areas. This would also be funded through a ringfence of the adult education budget.

What next for further education (FE)?

The fourth main recommendation calls for a better jobs deal and refers to work and analysis undertaken by the Resolution Foundation’s Intergenerational Commission (http://tinyurl.com/y2fgx5sv). The core conclusion is a belief that, just as in families, society rests on an ‘intergenerational contract’. Approximately 14 million parents in the UK bring up their children and about 6.5 million of us care for an elderly, ill or disabled relative. Wisdom gets passed on and family resources respond to the shifting needs of their members.

This ‘intergenerational contract’ implies that different generations provide support to one another across the different stages of their lives. Just as this contract underpins what we do as families, it is also crucial to society as a whole and, indeed, to the role of government. From education for the young, to extra financial help for those bringing up children, to healthcare and a pension for the old, the ‘intergenerational contract’ has long defined what the welfare state does.

The foundation argues that the ‘intergenerational contract’ works because everyone puts in and everyone takes out. We are happy to support older generations – indeed we feel obligated to do so – because we believe and expect that we will be treated the same when we are old. And we support children as they develop just as we were supported and nourished when we were young. Indeed, we expect that economic growth and continually expanding social opportunities should mean that our children have more than we did – and we welcome that progress. However, there is an increasing sense that it is under threat, with widespread concern that young adults may not achieve the progress their predecessors enjoyed. The foundation’s findings concluded that pessimists about young adults’ chances of improving on their parents’ lives outnumber optimists by two to one. That marks a dramatic turnaround in outlook. In 2003, optimists outnumbered pessimists by four to one. Sadly, the pessimism is most marked in relation to the key economic aspects of living standards – housing, pensions and most of all – high-skilled jobs.

The better jobs deal therefore looks to the FE sector as being the natural conduit to provide the necessary skills training for turning around this tide of pessimism. Local FE colleges, at the centre of their community, have it in their very DNA. They need to be given the resources to rise to this challenge.

Kevin Gilmartin
ASCL Post-16 and Colleges Specialist