Yesterday I was interviewed on Woman’s Hour – the iconic (at least for me) Radio 4 programme that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The reason for this - well last month I was elected as the first female Chair of The Scout Association UK
FE Colleges and independent training providers are heading of big change. Experienced researchers and commentators like Alison Wolf and David Melville are right to warn of the risks to FE as a result of funding cuts. I don’t disagree with them - and as I argue in this blog, I believe there are opportunities to be seized too
A virulent dose of ‘flu and horrid chest infection prevented me from taking part in last night Skills Debate organised by City& Guilds where I am a Fellow, Board Trustee and on the Council - and so I’m grateful to social media for providing me with a flavour of what went on - and it appears that in the week or so before national Apprenticeship Week, apprenticeships are back in fashion with political parties vying to outbid each other with bigger, bolder, better ideas for apprenticeship reform. The Tories will create a million more of them; Labour want ‘gold standard’ ones available for each school leaver. Political promises and media hype combine to create a climate in which the ‘currency’ of apprenticeships is one you’d want to buy right now
A charity auction - a curate’s egg - and the chance that FE might at last find its place in the sunOne major highlight for me this time was the Helena Kennedy Foundation charity fundraising dinner organised by FE week, Tribal and ncfe - and now in its fourth year. We were joined on Tuesday evening by that force of nature herself, our President, Baroness Kennedy QC. What a joy it was to be reminded of Learning Works, her seminal report, published in 1997 just after the Blair government had been elected, and that led me, together with some fellow Principals, to found the educational charity that bears her name. Helena’s reminder to us of the importance of lifelong learning was timely. If Labour is elected in May 2015, and Tristram Hunt (well known admirer of Blair’s achievments in government) becomes Secretary of State for Education, we might well see a revival of learning for all.
People of faith lead many of our educational institutions, charities, community organisations, businesses, political parties, the media and the professions –whether or not they derive their sense of belonging or define their identity by overt reference to their religious faith or set of beliefs. I’m lucky to know or have worked with a few, like Paul Head. I regard such people as examples of strategic spiritual leadership in action – role models for ‘lived’ faith. Paul Head died from cancer in September this year. I hope he knew what a courageous and inspirational leader I believe him to have been.
Skills pass the television test but a dinner party divide remains
The official TV viewing figures are unequivocal. The great British public admires, applauds and aspires to acquire the vocational skills demonstrated by budding entrepreneurs, clever business people, innovative chefs, creative bakers and successful gardeners! More television viewers - so, that’s employers, parents, and students - watch 1The Apprentice, Dragon’s Den, MasterChef, The Great British Bake Off, and The Big Allotment Challenge than turn on their TV or iPlayer to pit their wits against the teams of academic geniuses in University Challenge or the lone eggheads of Mastermind.
The worlds of skills and economic development are moving closer together - and it helps to have political support from across the spectrum
I have just contributed to a special edition of Adults Learning, which is out today: http://bit.ly/1iAsQ0b and which focuses on the role of LEPs in skills and education. In it, I argue that the primary function of a Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is to stimulate and nurture economic development across a defined functional economic geography, and that in so doing, as LEPs have grown incrementally into their role over the last four years, taking on a range of related activities requested of them by the coalition government, it is unlikely that many will have failed to grasp the importance of skills and education to successful fulfilment of their core mission.
It was useful therefore to have this view endorsed last week by the Prime Minster himself - no less - at a recent meeting with LEP chairs - and then again this week by the Leader of the Opposition in his speech on localism – even though Ed Milband still managed unwittingly to avoid saying the F word – missing out a reference to FE colleges in his key speech….
Why the South East Midlands LEP could see the arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting sectors and the visitor economy double in size over the next decade and maybe, who knows, be the LEP that will host the European Capital of Culture in 2023
Education is field of endeavour that must surely rank as high as any when it comes to the social, moral and spiritual development of humankind
Over the last 3-4 months, I’ve been involved in quite a lot of activity around strategic leadership…
An imaginary dinner party with Eleanor Roosevelt and Helena Kennedy
Sometimes when I find myself in a boring situation, my mind takes flight into the realms of imagination and I indulge in one of my favourite games - fantasy dinner party conversations!
The first time I voted in a General Election was February 1974. As it happened, it was a postal vote and I was deprived of the visceral joy and tear-filled, awesome privilege of entering the polling booth to place my cross alongside my chosen candidate - emotions I’ve continued to experience each time I’ve voted over the ensuing four decades. When I cast my first vote, I wept quietly at the memory of the thousands of suffragettes who at the beginning of the 20th century had fought for my right as a woman to so do.
Ed Miliband’s 2012 speech to the Labour Party Conference was eye catching for its spontaneous and seemingly unscripted delivery. In policy terms however it may well also be remembered over time as the moment when Labour finally ‘got it’ in terms of skills and vocational education - for the many and not just the few!
The email began ’ I’m writing to let you know that you have been chosen to receive this year’s Mary Lou Carrington Award’
Just another a scam surely was my immediate and unquestioning reaction. I was about to press delete (I love the rubbish bin icon on Apple Mac products) when I noticed the text contained no dubious looking attachment and no telltale elementary spelling mistakes. Furthermore the writer went on to say ‘you might be surprised to receive this out of the blue from the Company of Educators on behalf of whom I am contacting you. Please give me a call when convenient’.