LY campaigning in WestonYesterday Nick Clegg made an announcement on Further Education. This is a response from members of Liberal Youth’s working group on Further Education.

Nick Clegg’s announcement yesterday was largely focussed on improving careers advice, severely damaged as a result of the scrapping of Connexions, and giving those who haven’t gone to Higher Education an equal chance to those who have. Nick talked about creating a ‘one stop shop’ website for 16 year olds to help them plan their next move, similar to UCAS but will include information about apprenticeships, college courses and the like.

This is a huge step in the right direction towards having a parity of esteem between Further and Higher Education, particularly given National Apprenticeship Week next week, but we have concerns about the specifics of the announcement. With the increasing role of University Technical Colleges, students as young as 14 are making huge decisions about their future, and any ‘one stop shop’ website needs to be accessible to people at that age too.

There is also discussion about people lacking in literacy and numeracy being put on courses by the job centre to improve their skill set. While we would support that idea, we need to make sure that the teaching on that course engages students fully. Given that the people without adequate skills in literacy and numeracy have already ‘fallen out’ with mainstream education, these courses need to be motivating enough to engage them fully. They need to be different to the conventional method, like the teaching offered by organisations such as The Prince’s Trust.

It is clear that in order to progress in Further Education, we need to begin a wider discussion in the party about what we, along with partners in and out of the party, believe is in the best interests of students, teachers and potential employers, and how these ideas can shape the FE sector in the future.

That is why Liberal Youth has set up a Further Education Working Group, compromising of members of the Lib Dem Education Association and Liberal Youth members from around the country who have a special interest in education. They are:

Callum Morton
Adam Shaw
Lee Dargue
Euan Davidson
Laura Haddon
Daniel Lewis
Katia Petros
Steve Haynes

The working group will look at the whole model of FE and produce a paper on it, as a result of consultation with Lib Dem members, as well as various internal and external organisations (Lib Dem Education Association, the Institute for Learning, NUS, NASUWT, etc).

This is partly a result of the Learning for Life Paper which came before Autumn Conference 2013 in Glasgow, which took a very broad view of education and, due to its wide scope, wasn’t able to consider all the aspects of FE that need attention. Our aim is to further the work of that group on FE matters.

We would love to hear your thoughts – please email us at [email protected] by 31st March 2014.

Alongside the paper we are producing we will be supporting Liberal Youth and local parties to engage with freshers’ fairs in Further Education institutions. If you have any queries about how we are planning on operating please do get in touch.

* The Liberal Youth Further Education Working Group is developing policy on improving further education.