Good luck to NATECLA in calling for a national ESOL strategy

Congratulations to NATECLA which is calling for a national strategy for ESOL – and to the TES for reporting the story today.

When I chaired the board at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College, then the largest provider of ESOL in the country, I made a similar call (though without offering a detailed programme as NATECLA has).

I followed up by meeting the civil servant responsible for ESOL, who assured me that the Government did indeed have a strategy – which wasn’t and isn’t the point. I wanted to see a strategy for solving the problem, not just one limited to how the Government would make its contribution. Government can’t and won’t do it all; a national strategy should use the Government’s influence (and of course its money), but if we rely on Government alone we will never get there.

In the light of today’s news I re-read my own TES article from 2007 and though my opening hook dates it, the rests stands the test of time, so I’ll reproduce it here.

Where’s our ambition? We can solve the ESOL problem!

Ken Livingstone has pulled off another coup. It is excellent news that he has levered another £10m from the LSC for ESOL in London by offering £5m from London government funds. I never doubted that Ministers would step in to help when they saw the unintended consequences of their rationalisation plans.

But let’s not get carried away. This is a deal for a year only. It is a deal only for London. And it is a deal, not a solution. I shall be looking carefully to see what prominence London’s new Skills and Employment Board gives to ESOL in its forthcoming strategy, but if it is truly ambitious to crack this problem, as I hope it will be, it will be a first.

Because we have an institutional timidity about ESOL in Britain: we don’t believe we can solve the problem. We have strategies and plans and actions which aim to “reduce the number of adults with low levels of basic skills” – which was the uninspiring recommendation of the Moser Report of 2000. We have many hardworking, deeply committed people toiling away to help people progress with their English – but we have no national strategy. And we have a Government scared off more imaginative action for fear that it will end up footing the whole bill itself.

But ESOL is a different sort of problem. It’s not like finding a cure for cancer, or stamping out the drugs problem. We do know how to do it. ESOL professionals have many things to say for themselves, but I have never heard one say: “I’m really stumped: I have no idea what to try next”. They know exactly what to do. (And, in the case of the college I’m proud to chair, OFSTED thinks they do it rather well, grading their work “outstanding”).

The people who are an ESOL problem are those who cannot readily sort out their own English language needs. And until they gain a decent grasp of English, they are dependent on others, and usually dependent on the state. They cannot live the ordinary lives the rest of us lead. They earn well below their potential, if they earn at all. They are commonly a drain on the economy, not a benefit to it.

So let’s set a target. A proper target, with no equivocation: 100%. Everyone in this country should be able to learn English if they want to, and they should get help to do so if they need it.

This is not about the populism of politicians boasting that they will make immigrants learn English. They want to learn! We need to find a way of making that possible.

There are complexities here, of course. How do we handle the risk that people will come to Britain to get free tuition in the world’s most popular language? How do we ensure that employers will play their part? How far can we go in charging individuals themselves? And so on. But we must not allow the complexities to hold us back from stopping a real injustice, and a real economic own goal.

I therefore call on the Government to lead a coalition to create a national ESOL strategy by Christmas. It should be a strategy for the nation as a whole, not just for the Government and its agencies. It should set out how Britain will enable everyone in this country to learn English if they want to, and what help they can expect from whom, if they need it. And it should set an ambitious timescale.

We can do this. Let’s get on with it.

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Why is BIS so doctrinaire about qualifications in apprenticeships?

It would be daft to turn the Richard Review into a holy text which we can never deviate from.  It wasn’t written that way, it won’t bear that weight, and I’m sure Doug Richard himself would say he meant it to be a framework not a straitjacket.

And the trouble with holy texts is that different people interpret them differently, all too often turning their interpretation into a doctrine.  That’s exactly what BIS[1] has done.  Doug Richard is an entrepreneur, so when he took a swipe at the way qualifications have been misused in the past, it was exactly that, a swipe, not a detailed, exhaustive, critique.  It was a well-aimed swipe, to be sure, but it’s a mistake for BIS to turn it into a new doctrine.

Let’s look at what he said.  First, that the notion of a successful apprentice ‘graduating’ to the next stage of their career has been lost, replaced by a “welter of qualifications that … serve to support the apprentice’s progress often without ever declaring their final competency”. (Note that ‘often’: he’s not saying ‘always’).  He wants each occupation defined by a standard, and the Trailblazer reforms grant his wish.  I’ve no problem with that.

Second, he finds the qualifications on offer confusing and unreliable: “we need clear, effective and trusted qualifications”.  He’s saying “improve them”, not “bin them”.  Indeed, he talks about the new apprenticeship standards he advocates as “new qualifications”.  He’s not agin qualifications.

And third, he’s concerned that “overly detailed specifications for each qualification” constrain employers and constrain innovation.  That’s a complaint about badly-designed qualifications, not about qualifications per se.

These are all important concerns, but none justify BIS taking so strongly against including qualifications in new-style apprenticeships.  They do accept them in certain circumstances, but objected to the inclusion of a number in one of the draft standards for the shipping sector, including the “Entry Into Enclosed Spaces” certificate.

That really annoyed our working group.  Entry into enclosed spaces is the most common cause of death on board a ship (because of depleted oxygen).  It’s a one day course, and we readily agreed to include it in the standard, to ensure that every apprentice would complete it at the start of their career to learn to keep themselves safe.  It’s not confusing, it’s not overly-detailed; it’s the industry-standard course, accredited by the well-respected, employer-led, Merchant Navy Training Board.

But BIS said no.  “The MNTB Entry into Enclosed Spaces certificate is not a regulated qualification, so while we accept the need for it as part of this role it cannot be included as part of the standard”.

Doug Richard said nothing about preferring regulated qualifications over others.  What he did say was that “It is complicated and off-putting to an employer to have to undertake paperwork gymnastics to pigeon hole their system into a pre-defined set of curricular approaches”.

Here’s one last quotation from the holy text.  “In taking forward the recommendations made in this report, Government must be mindful to protect what works … ensuring that change is led by employers”.

In this case employers (and our trade unions) are adamant that they want to include this qualification.

Surely what BIS should do, with us and with others caught up in their doctrinaire approach, is accept the settled will of employer groups when they say they want to include qualifications along the way to an agreed standard.  Test our assertion by all means, but in the spirit of employer leadership, ultimately they should embrace it.  Amen.

[1] The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which is leading apprenticeship reform in England.

NB  The above formed the basis of an article published by the TES in April 2016 (not available online).  I have not attempted to update it for recent changes.   

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Roll up!  Roll up!  Get your free apprentice ‘ere

We do need to be careful about this.  You can well understand why Robert Halfon was so keen to tweet the good news earlier that he’s got a better deal to encourage small firms to employ apprentices:

Employers: <50 employees? 100% of training costs covered.

True, but misleading.  And a trap we need to avoid.

Misleading because although the Minister worded his tweet carefully, DfE is deliberately restricting how the Apprenticeship Levy can be spent.  The formal guidance makes these distinctions about what the Levy can be spent on:

It can’t be used on other costs associated with your apprentices or wider training effort. For example wages, statutory licences to practise, travel and subsidiary costs, managerial costs, traineeships, work placement programmes or the costs of setting up an apprenticeship programme.

So not quite a free gift after all.  Pay’s the big one; even if an employer only manages the minimum wage, which is reduced for apprentices, it’s quite a bit more than nothing.  And apprentices need to get to college; they need a supervisor to keep an eye on them, and to teach them things on the job; they may well need protective clothing; and so on.  It won’t work – it will be counter-productive – to con small employers that the State will pick up the tab for all this.

And it’s a trap, because everybody wants employers to be conscientious about their new apprentice – and I most certainly include the Minister in that; he’s clearly a decent chap who wants this to work for apprentices as much as for the economy at large.

If we push the ‘free gift’ line too carelessly we’ll get the wrong employers queueing up for the wrong reasons.

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That was a short honeymoon!

Just three weeks ago FE Week reported that the sector had given a “Warm welcome for new minister for apprenticeships and skills”.  Now Robert Halfon is being called “silly” and “naïve” on Twitter for his view that “apprenticeships should be as prestigious as Oxbridge”:

This is just plain silly. Won’t somebody tell him.

Slightly silly statement from a rather naive minister

Probably the most ridiculous statement ever uttered by an incoming Skills Minister (note not FE!) in my 40yrs in Education!!

You could understand Halfon feeling a bit aggrieved.  His enthusiasm for apprenticeships shone through in his interview for the TES, and no reader could doubt that it’s entirely genuine.  So here he is enthusiastically embracing the biggest policy initiative in the skills and FE field for decades, and promising to join battle on dear old parity of esteem, the sector’s Holy Grail – and getting slated for it.

Except that ‘skills’ and ‘FE’ are not the same thing at all.  It suits everyone, most of the time, to bracket them together, but they’re different.  As the third quote above shows all too clearly, there are plenty people in FE who are not at all persuaded that apprenticeships should have the attention – and the funding – they’re currently getting.

It’s not just FE either.  The CBI has been increasingly strident in its view not just that the Levy should be postponed, but also that companies should be able to spend it on other training, not just apprenticeships.  (Which is very much the view of the Scottish Government from the briefing which accompanies its current consultation).

Others share the CBI’s view*.  Everyone praises apprenticeships, but unbridled enthusiasm for apprenticeships is a minority view.

And what of the charge of naivety?  If you wanted to design the ultimate windmill for a skills sector enthusiast to tilt at it would be to make apprenticeships as prestigious as Oxbridge, wouldn’t it?  Perhaps it’s no more than a rhetorical flourish designed to catch attention (in which case, it worked).

But no one, and surely this includes Robert Halfon himself, thinks this is going to happen – what?  ‘ever’?  ‘any time soon’?  ‘in the lifetime of this Parliament’?  Pick your own qualifier, but I suspect most will go for ‘ever’ and look to the Minister to work to a more realistic goal in practice, whatever he says.

Look also at this from Stephen Exley’s interview in the TES:

I was expecting to meet Sir Humphreys. … But I’ve met incredible people who are really passionate about skills.  In the last week I was bombarded with briefings”.

I’m sure I was not the only reader who remembered that bombarding the Minister with briefings is actually a classic Sir Humphrey ploy.

But let’s be fair.  It is a wholly good thing that we have a Minister who’s really enthusiastic about his brief, and who cares about social justice as much as economic success.  The sector likes enthusiasts, from Bill Rammell to John Hayes.  We – and he – should be looking for ways to harness Halfon’s enthusiasm to make a difference.

*for the counter-view see the strong case for apprenticeship-only fund which Alison Wolf makes in her Social Market Foundation paper Fixing a Broken Training System, pp 15-16.

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We should stop talking about the Government “funding” apprenticeships

The Government does not “fund” apprenticeships and we should stop using the word.

I dislike it for two reasons.  First, it implies that the Government is paying the lion’s share – it’s not, and it’s not going to.  Governments always put a positive spin on what they do, but they long ago stopped implying that the money they put into the apprenticeship pot comes close to paying for everything.  It’s a contribution, no more.  And employers should not be misled into believing anything else.

The second reason is that bigging-up what Government does weakens the fundamental point that apprentices are employees.  This is not another Government programme.  It’s about Government encouraging employers to invest in their own employees, and put them on structured training programmes.  But they are first and foremost employees, and the prime responsibility for them belongs with their employers, not with the Government.

I therefore use the word subsidy.  The Government is subsidising apprenticeships, and offering a large enough subsidy that it buys the right to shape the rules of the game, but it’s only doing that: it does not control them.  “Subsidy” has the great merit of accuracy, and using it instead of “fund” is a continuing reminder about the true relationship between Government and employers.  Government attempts to influence; employers decide.

PS  There’s certainly a case for using the word “invest” instead, but it’s become so worn out through over-use and plain abuse (particularly in the Blair-Brown years) that it has lost a lot of its power.  (In the Mackinnon household we “invest” in a new tube of toothpaste: we would not stoop to anything so insignificant as merely “buying” one).  It’s a shame, but we should leave the word “invest” alone for a bit.

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Providers must learn new skills

It was the sound of pennies dropping.  Three colleges, one private training provider and their specialist delivery partner, two industry bodies, and the Skills Funding Agency, all sat round a table last week working through the implications of the new style of funding for apprenticeships this year.  It’s stopped being theoretical now.  When BIS says “many providers will need to re-work their business model as the current allocations-based approach moves to the new funding system” this is what they mean.  The game’s changed.

For one of the core apprenticeships in the maritime sector we’ve jumped, switching from the old ‘framework’ apprenticeship to the new ‘standard’.  The main practical difference is that providers only get their hands on the Government’s matching £2 when the Skills Funding Agency sees proof that the employer has paid its £1 to the provider.  And SFA only sees that proof through the ILR (which means the next ILR after the employer’s cash reaches them: another inbuilt delay).

Cash flow never much mattered to providers before and now it does.  And with tight margins and limited headroom for development, even for the larger colleges cash flow now needs to be on the agenda.

We worked through the implications.

In cash flow terms it’s suddenly really important to know when your partner employer will pay.  The SFA pays reliably every month, on demand: it’s a wonderful customer (and providers don’t realise how lucky they are).

But what’s the payment policy of the company which employs the apprentices you’re training?  Do they pay on 30 days (as the public sector is required to do)?  60 days?  90 days?  Does your contact in HR even know?  And what if it’s less predictable than that?  In my consultancy business I had client some years ago whose policy was to pay only when chased!  Which is manageable if you know – and may be a painful surprise if you don’t.

Not a problem, you cry: we’ve built up good relationships with our employers and we’ll just get them to pay us everything up front!  Except that contract negotiation is a game for two players, and your employer partner also has a Finance Director with a keen eye on their self-interest.  They might also have more experience of contract negotiation.  How ready do you feel?

What about your admin systems?  Filling in your ILR correctly is one thing (and quite a skill).  But invoicing your partner employer as soon as you legitimately can is something different.  The old rule of thumb in business that invoices go out first class and cheques second is very far from being second nature to college finance teams which have had a cushy time with regular payments from the Government.  As a consultant I have seen some very relaxed approaches to invoicing by public sector clients.  That must change.

The old FE dog is going to have to learn some new tricks.  Fast.  And with remarkably little room for error because margins are tight.  A key skill for college managers and their training provider counterparts has long been to learn each year’s funding rules quickly, so they can make the best of them.

This is different.  It’s much more commercial.  The same pressing need is there to learn the rules fast, but the skills required are different.  It would be wise to learn those new skills quickly.

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Comment on Guardian FE discussion on “Should college governors be paid?”

I have recently stepped-down as a governor of Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College after 14 years, and was for five years Chairman of the Board.  When colleagues asked me to take on the role I hesitated, not at all from lack of interest – because I was well and truly hooked by then – but because I doubted whether I could spare the time to do the role justice.  I run a small consultancy and at the time my team was very dependent upon my personal input: any time I spent on college business would be time taken away from my consultancy.  I did sign up and I have no doubt at all that on occasion my colleagues in my business resented the time I spent at the college. 

 

I don’t think any of my fellow governors would say I was idle, and many would be probably be kind enough to say that I was conscientious, but I was unhappy that I spent insufficient time in my role, given that I was chairing a college with over 20,000 students and £55m turnover.  It’s a big role, and deserves proper attention.  Had I been paid for my time as Chairman, even at poorer rate than my normal consultancy fees (which is what I’d expect), I have no doubt that it would have helped me to do a better job.

 

But … there’s lots of buts! 

 

First, I was unusual as a Chairman in working full-time for a small firm.  Chairs are more often retired, or semi-retired, or work for a larger organisation which chooses to give them the time to do the job properly.  So my case is atypical.

 

Second, though my college was financially strong and finding the money would not have been a problem, I saw practical difficulties in knowing where to draw the line.  Paying all governors would get to be pricy, and where the NHS does that, numbers are typically much smaller than in colleges.  (I have been an NHS non-executive, too, paid for the role, and saw no difference at all between the degree of commitment from fellow non-execs in the NHS compared with my time at the college: no one was ‘in it for the money’, and if that had been their motivation the Chair would most certainly have sniffed them out).  Some other organisations make tiered payments depending on levels of responsibility – so much for the Chair, for committee chairs, and so on – and we could no doubt create some workable model. Housing associations are probably the best model to look at.

 

But third, and overwhelmingly, the time is not right.  There is some talk in the college sector now about payment, which there wasn’t 10 years ago, and that’s good, but for the moment it will remain talk and there will be no change.  Making a change, getting it right and selling it, will take quite a bit of effort, and I don’t see sufficient interest right now.  We certainly need to give more prominence to better governance, and Susan Pember’s report is a helpful step in that direction, but payment is a distraction.  Let’s leave it for now and focus on more important matters. 

 

The Guardian’s original article to which I was responding is here.

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An FE Guild – or a Guild for Learners?

Peter Davies, who is project managing the work to create the proposed FE Guild, sent an intriguing tweet yesterday: “Real divergence of opinion with pm group – strong view that for Guild to have real impact must focus on T&L&A. [teaching and learning and assessment] How can we square this circle?”. It’s an important question, and I want to make the case that a focus on ‘T&L&A’ is too narrow: our focus should be on learners.

What are we trying to achieve through the Guild? The Consultation Document offers us a range of ‘Top Level Aims’, and the first of those is “To ensure the best possible learner experience and outcomes”. I agree with that, though I think the imprecision of those last three words – experience and outcomes – might be a clue to the problem Peter is trying to solve.

The first part is clear, and everyone accepts it: we want students to benefit from excellent learning, wherever it takes place, whether in a classroom or workplace, or through personal study.

“Outcomes” is much less clear. The way I’d put it is that we also want students to be able to make the most of the opportunities to learn which we offer them. That is a much broader task encompassing helping them to choose the right course, supporting them through their studies (which will include routine tutorials and maybe also more specialist support: educational, emotional and financial), advising on careers options, arranging work experience and enrichment opportunities, and careers advice, helping with the next steps into work or further study.

I think it also covers things which are wider still, about individuals growing as people, learning something more about themselves and what they can do with their lives, and learning some skills (and confidence) to help them take the next step. Some of that is captured in ‘employability’ and ‘enterprise’ – and in the debate about whether our job is to help students just to pass exams, or to offer a broader education!

All of those, I suggest, are professional responsibilities. Some of them fall to professional teachers; many fall to other professionals, in the fields of information, advice and guidance, for example, and counselling; and some fall to other colleagues whose expertise is not yet, or not always, labelled as ‘professional’, but whose professionalism matters a good deal to students, like staff who arrange work experience, or who stimulate and support enterprising behaviour.

I should like all of those people to be covered by the Guild, because it is the sum of their efforts which produces a first class outcome for students, not solely the work of teachers when they teach.

It’s time to dump the old, redundant, distinction between “teaching staff” and “support staff”.

Turn the words round from “FE Guild” to a “Guild for Learners” (I’m not suggesting it as a title), and the emphasis shifts to students and to how they learn, and therefore to all those who help them to learn. Focusing on our students is how we square the circle, Peter.

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Why do colleges not use more careers information when they recruit students?

With the possible exception of the Secretary of State and his immediate advisers, there can surely be no one in the country who thinks we’ve got careers provision right – nor anyone who expects the problem to be sorted soon.  So why don’t colleges sell their courses better by telling potential students much more about the careers which sit behind the courses they offer? 

Here’s a typical example from a college offering a BTEC L2 Diploma in Creative Media Production.  The web page sensibly asks ‘What job could I get afterwards?, responding:

The media industry is one of the largest employers in the UK, and is continuing to grow. You will be introduced to various aspects of media production technique, meaning that you will be prepared for employment in a variety of areas including location and studio-based TV & Film Production, Journalism & Magazine Production, Advertising & Marketing and Photography.

That’s friendly enough, but surely wholly inadequate, and a terrible missed opportunity.  58 words of rather flat text to attract potential students who want a career in media?  In media, of all things, and it’s all text! 

Where are the videos of former students talking about their exciting careers in the sector?  Where is the link to the website of Creative Skillset (the Sector Skills Council), which has a terrific range of profiles of young professionals in media?  Or as a minimalist backstop, where’s the link to the National Careers Service?

Individuals themselves need to be reassured that they are making a good career choice, and encouraged and excited – and in many cases, so do Mum and Dad.  A good website helps that process. 

Surely it also works at every stage in the business process for colleges: attracting potential students in the first place; ensuring that they pick the right course, which supports better retention and achievement; motivating them through the tough times to the end, and encouraging them to aim for success, not a mere pass, which supports better achievement and a better reputation for the college.  Everyone wins.

It’s certainly true that not every sector is fortunate to have the great bank of profiles and factsheets that Skillset provides, but there is a lot of good material out there, and all of it is free. 

As an example, I stumbled across Careers Box earlier in the week.  It is “the preferred digital new media partner to the Institute of Career Guidance” (and therefore kosher), a free library of short videos on different careers which colleges can embed in their websites.

Most are sponsored, and therefore offer a particular slant.  The video on retail apprenticeships, for example, is sponsored by Superdrug, and Superdrug offers a very different retail experience to, say, an upmarket fashion shop like LK Bennett, or to an Apple Store.  But it’s a start, and it will work for some people.

As I know the maritime sector best, I watched the video illustrating careers for officers in the Merchant Navy.  It is sponsored by SSTG, one of the two leading bodies managing training programmes for junior officers, and in 4 minutes 40 seconds there’s obviously a limit to what they can say.  But they cover both ‘deck’ and engineering careers (the two main options), with useful comment by young people on each path, one male one female, all illustrated with a good range of background shots to give a flavour.  It’s not going to win an Oscar, but I thought it was balanced and a good introduction. 

If I was running maritime courses, I would embed that video, and also provide links to SSTG’s main rival, to the Merchant Navy Training Board and its careers pages, and so on – and I’d get some former students back, college alumni, to talk about their own experience.  By chance I’ve heard a former SSTG student, now a junior officer, talking about how much he loved his trip to the Far East with Maersk, and why he much preferred the hectic life on a workboat in the port of Liverpool.  Personal stories are very powerful (and still far too little used).

All of that takes some organising, I do appreciate.  But the business imperatives for taking action are powerful.  To say nothing of doing the right thing for our students. 

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Which alumni matter more: famous names – or accessible faces?

Is there any point in telling our current students that Fred Perry is one of our alumni?  He’s long gone, so they won’t get to meet him.  He went to a grammar school which preceded the college, which is very different even from our current sixth form.  He’s famous for something the college doesn’t teach, so we can’t claim much credit, or fairly imply that some of his gold dust might rub off.  And if ‘world class’ means anything, he was it – so he’s not exactly an accessible role model.

How about Trevor Baylis, best known for inventing the wind-up radio, and one of the recipients of last year’s Association of Colleges Gold Award?  He is alive (good start!), went to a college – Southall College of Technology – not a school, has an active interest in education, and is a good speaker.  Much more promising, though we don’t do engineering any more, which is what he studied, and his style of hands-on invention doesn’t particularly fit our current students.

Or how about Dora Rudolf?  Dora who?  She may yet become as famous as Fred Perry or Trevor Baylis, but for the moment I am free to use her name because she features this week in a news story put out by Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College.  Dora is 23, and thrilled to have landed a job with Emirates on the conclusion of her cabin crew course at the college.  And that’s particularly valuable for the college because – like many of our students – Dora started with us learning English before progressing to her vocational course.

She’s only just become an “alumna”, of course, and may well not see herself as one.  The college needs to be sure to invite her back some time when she’s in London, so she can talk to the next generation, and inspire and excite them (and give them – and their tutors – practical tips about her job, and how to follow in her footsteps).

Do we not need a 100 Doras for every Perry or Baylis?  I think we give some prominence to Fred Perry so we get a little “gilt by association”, as it were, and I hope we can get Trevor Baylis in as an occasional speaker, for students and for business guests.

I was excited to see an article on the BBC website this week about a hugely successful former student of Croydon College.  Under the headline “The Ghanaian woman who made millions fighting skin-bleaching”, the BBC profiles Ghanaian Grace Amey-Obeng, who has made a fortune through her skincare company, and who began her career by studying beauty therapy at Croydon College.  If Croydon can get her in to talk to students next time she’s in London it’s not hard to imagine students being fascinated by her story – to say nothing of the good it will do for everyone to see an African woman triumphant, not downtrodden.

But Dora, and people like Dora, are the real gold dust.  “Ordinary” former students, not so long out of college, who’ve moved on to something which our students want to move on to too, who can talk with authority about their next steps, and inspire by example.  That’s why I was so keen to get a Future First operation set up at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College, because this is exactly what they were set up to do (though originally for schools only).

I want to show our Access students someone who is a couple of steps ahead of them: someone who has started their nursing course, or who is now a nurse.  I want our media students to meet someone who has actually battled their way into a job in a sector where so much depends on contacts and luck, so they can pass on their advice (and their contacts!).  And I want our ESOL students to meet someone who started, like them, with poor (or no) English, and who has gone on to further study at college or university, or started a worthwhile job – so they can see that it is realistic to be ambitious for themselves, and not just for their children.

For me, all of that is wrapped up under “alumni relations”.  Let’s celebrate the famous names too, but it must be about more than famous names.

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