• Developing a mission for further education: changing culture using non-financial and intangible value

      Hadawi, Ali; Crabbe, M. James C.; Central Bedfordshire College; University of Northampton; University of Bedfordshire (Taylor & Francis, 2018-01-29)
      In his keynote lecture at the Reimagining Further Education conference in Birmingham in June 2016, Sir Frank McLoughlin was clear that the sector ‘needed a mission’ to unite around, and to let people know where it is going’ (McLoughlin 2016). This was endorsed by the attendees, who felt that it would enable the sector to regain ownership of what it stands for nationally, regionally, and locally. Such a vision is needed to create a TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) sector that is targeted to develop an effective shared culture in the further education sector, close skills shortages and skills gaps in education, enhance community cohesion and improve productivity. This vision needs to have a robust measure of impact that aligns with the vision. One possibility is to explore a non-financial and intangible value metric where social value is aligned to the sector mission. A robust measure will enable key stakeholders to agree on areas of focus in a specific geographical location or a specific time. Such a measure might challenge the need for the existence of regulatory bodies such as Ofsted in the way they operate now. With such a robust measure of social value/impact, Government will not need to issue a white paper every time a response to a localised issue is required. We suggest that the Social Earnings Ratio (S/E or SERatio) is such a robust measure. For example, if the need in a certain locality is to address skills gaps/shortages or to focus on community cohesion, all that is needed is a change in the weighting of the various components of such a measure. This will allow development of a Further Education mission which can be utilised nationally, regionally and locally. In this article we develop this idea and provide an illustration of how the SERatio could be applied to an FE college.  The example we use is that of a small FE college with an annual budget of £12m. We demonstrate, using SERatio, that this college produces an intangible value of approximately £40m per annum. Such an approach will enable Further Education to become the strong owner of its mission and vision in the future, and allow it to develop its own culture and expertise to the maximum of its potential.
    • ‘Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle’: surviving the lesson observation process in further education

      Thompson, Carol; Wolstencroft, Peter; University of Bedfordshire (Routledge, 2014-07-07)
      This paper examines the key role that graded lesson observations have within the measurement of quality in the post-compulsory education sector. Using semi-structured interviews, it looks at their impact on participants and also their execution in light of their stated purpose to ‘improve teaching and learning’. The sample selected included teachers, quality managers and initial teacher educators and covers a geographical spread from the north Midlands to London. The findings suggest that the lessons observed bore scant resemblance to the day-to-day teaching of participants. Instead teachers talked of the need to ‘put on a show’ and how they treated the annual observation with a mixture of trepidation and cynicism. The realisation that observations failed to measure what they were designed to measure was shared by other participants with quality managers, ostensibly the people who were employed to raise standards, also acknowledging the limitations of the process. The observation process was designed to reward outstanding practitioners, however, teachers talked about their reluctance to strive for outstanding grades due to the perceived onerous duties associated with achieving a top grade. Instead teachers talked about the way in which they aimed for a grade two in order to maintain a low profile. Despite the widespread cynicism amongst all participants, there was a universal belief that some form of measurement was needed to ensure that standards were maintained.
    • The magic of mentoring: a democratic approach to mentoring trainee teachers in post-compulsory education

      Thompson, Carol; University of Bedfordshire (Taylor and Francis, 2016-08-05)
      This paper explores the impact of subject-specific mentoring within post-compulsory education. Using questionnaires and semistructured interviews, it considers those factors considered ‘most useful’ to teachers in training. The findings suggest that, contrary to the views espoused by bodies such as the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, mentors have a limited impact on the effectiveness of teacher education. Reasons for this are examined, including the context in which most trainees and mentors work as well as the restrictions created by initial teacher education frameworks. A more productive approach to supporting postcompulsory education trainees is explored through the development of a collaborative and democratic model of mentoring.
    • Trust into mistrust: the uncertain marriage between public and private sector practice for middle managers in education

      Thompson, Carol; Wolstencroft, Peter; University of Bedfordshire (Routledge, 2018-05-08)
      The role of the middle manager has proved to be a difficult one to define due to the fluid nature of the tasks performed and the heterogeneity of understanding that exists for the term. This is further complicated by the differences associated with the context in which individual manager’s work. This research, which explores the drive towards neo-liberalism and the subsequent adoption of leadership and management practice from the private sector, makes a comparison between the roles of managers in English education with those in other settings. Using a questionnaire with 252 responses and interviews with 6 managers in the private and public sector, the role of middle managers was compared to identify the similarities and differences between organisations driven by social policy as opposed to profit. Participants surveyed were based in primary, secondary and further education and the interview respondents were employed in non-education contexts. The findings suggest that the initial reforms, which required higher levels of accountability through the introduction of key performance indicators, appear to be fully embedded within the education manager’s role and there is a high degree of convergence in relation to the expectation of managers at this level in all the settings. The findings also highlighted a fundamental difference in relation to how middle managers were expected to carry out their duties, the autonomy they had to do so and the authority that was bestowed upon them.