Dick Evans looks at the Select Committee report and George Low assesses its impact. Announcing her committee’s sixth report, Mrs Margaret Hodge MP said she hoped it would give the Cinderella service of FE the status it deserved. After the shambles of the mythical White Paper on lifelong learning, which then turned green at the edges before dropping off the tree, a good long look at fe was overdue. With the arrival of the Select Committee’s sixth report we were not disappointed. This is a balanced, realistic and seminal report with an evidence base which engenders confidence. With its working detail and
Dick Evans argues for living with uncertainty as less stressful and more realistic There is a quotation that goes as follows: “You cannot predict the future, but at least you can plan for it”. However, in the current climate of the free market and increasing deregulation, even the second statement is now highly questionable in education particularly in the FE sector. Continual changes in Government policy, many of which are contradictory, make it almost impossible for colleges to plan their futures. It is practically impossible to plan other than for a very short period because of all the uncertainties associated
The continued operation of the ‘free market’ precipitates a whole series of paradoxes to companies and organisations. Employers, both in the private and public sector, struggle to cope with increasing competition and continuing cuts and Government requirements to make ‘efficiency gains’. As staffing levels continue to be reduced, they are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the quality of their products and services. This is most certainly true of organisations such as the prison service, probation, health, social services and education. One accepts that a great many manufacturing industries have witnessed significant cutbacks, yet they have managed to increase productivity
As colleges are required to make even further so-called efficiency gains, a classic contradiction and paradox is presented to colleges who are trying to manage the current situation. Institutions are now expected to deal with a very harsh and steep reduction in their resources from the Funding Council, just at the time when we are beginning to open up access and attempt to increase participation of the new learners of the future. We are therefore confronted with two opposite and in many cases opposing forces arising from convergence of funding and the divergence arising from the increasingly diverse learner populations.
With concerns over society’s numeracy levels and the advent of new technology, Dick Evans calls for a major, wide-ranging inquiry into maths education. Recently, a number of reports have highlighted the continuing concern about mathematics education and the problems associated with the level of numeracy in school leavers and in members of society in general. Ongoing concern is voiced by employers and educationalists from all the sectors. Many reports, over many decades, have mapped out the possible causes and made innumerable recommendations to improve the situation. Sadly, in spite of all these laudable endeavours, nothing has happened and the concerns