Principal champions change in Further Education

Nelson and Colne College Group’s Principal and CEO is leading the calls for the role of colleges in England to change ahead of the Government’s imminent publishing of a Further Education White Paper. 

After sharing its UK-wide recommendations in October, the Independent Commission on the College of the Future this week published the first of its nations-specific reports for England. 

Amanda Melton CBE – who sits on the Commission as the sole Commissioner for all College Principals in England – has said it is time the Government invests in colleges as “essential public assets to build skills in England in the short and longer term”.

The Commission is calling for the change to allow colleges in England to provide an even greater range of opportunities for young people and adult learners to enable them to reach their full potential. 

It is also seeking to enhance the support colleges can offer to best meet the needs of businesses facing enormous change and challenges, including recovery from the ongoing crisis as well as the urgent need to move to a green economy. 

The Future of the English College report includes six key recommendations, and these are: 

  1. Introducing a legal duty on colleges to establish networks across appropriate economic geographies, which must be matched by a duty on all other post-16 education providers;
  2. Forming a cross-departmental ministerial taskforce or body to oversee a new UK Government 10-year strategy for education and skills to drive the industrial strategy and other priorities;
  3. Funding colleges to deliver specialised and targeted business support, creating employer ‘hubs’ in key sectors and occupational pathways, especially in digital, construction, engineering and health and social care;
  4. Creating a statutory right to lifelong learning by making lifelong learning accessible and financially viable to all through offering equal loans and grants across Further Education and Higher Education;
  5. Investing in colleges through three-year grant settlements to give colleges the confidence and funding to deliver strategically for people, productivity and place in the economic rebuild;
  6. Streamlining regulation, accountability and the funding system to reduce bureaucracy and to ensure that the system focuses on the mission, purpose and outcomes of colleges. 

Amanda said: “Colleges provide skills and training to local people, employers and communities, often in a challenging and continually changing policy and fiscal environment.

“It is essential that the Government invests in colleges as essential public assets, and builds a new relationship as strategic and trusted partners, securing relevant high-quality learning over all our lives, building the skills England needs in the short and longer term.

“The anticipated FE White Paper will be a vehicle to drive the fundamental systems change needed. But colleges should take a lead role in delivering the transformation required, in the context of the vision for the future and outlined Government reforms. 

“This report is a rallying call for colleges. I know we share a collective ambition for the expanded role colleges can and must play in our society and economy. This will require real cultural shifts within the college sector to achieve the Commission’s vision for a collaborative college sector for the future. 

“Colleges will then successfully adopt their lead role as lynchpin of a coherent, connected education and skills system that delivers for our communities and economy.” 

To read the full report on the English College of the Future, please visit the College Commission website at: www.collegecommission.co.uk/england-final-report

For more information on Nelson and Colne College Group, please visit www.nelsongroup.ac.uk or call 01282 440200.