Liberal Youth seeks your views on improving further education

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.

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  • A Social Liberal 28th Feb '14 - 12:56pm

    Free education to higher education level.

    Grants to students based on parental income (unless the student has been financially independent) which will help students from poor backgrounds survive without being forced to work their way through uni.

    Something that the average MP enjoyed during their student days, in fact!

  • Nonconformistradical 28th Feb '14 - 6:34pm

    “Something that the average MP enjoyed during their student days”

    Oh yes, I remember – when far fewer young people had the opportunity to go to university in the first place. If we want to see (and I do) more young people benefitting from further and/or higher education – that has to be paid for – and the graduate tax in all but name system now in place is an appropriate means of doing so.

  • Stuart Wheatcroft 28th Feb '14 - 6:52pm

    This is a Further Education working group. Part of the reason that it was set up was to be a counterweight to the general focus on HE, so that a proper Further Education policy can be developed. Those commenting might bear that in mind!

  • Adam Robertson 1st Mar '14 - 2:23am

    Liberal Youth finally wants its members to engage with it. I remember when they sent a statement out, which I disagreed with and I wrote an e-mail to the President/Chair. I never got a response back.

  • Stuart Wheatcroft 1st Mar '14 - 11:40am

    Adam Robertson – When was that?

  • Nigel Jones 1st Mar '14 - 9:11pm

    I agree to a special focus on FE, NOT HE.
    Conference motions on Education have always been so broad that attention has too often focussed on HE or schools, rather than FE. I am thankful that twice I have been able to speak at conference on FE, but because it was in the context of a much wider debate, those of us who have succeeded in doing this have been outweighed by other concerns.
    There is now greater hope, because senior party spokespeople such as Baronness Brinton and David Laws are stressing the importance of vocational education. However, they have still to be convinced that there is a need to blur the distinction between vocational and academic and likewise to fully realise that developing basic skills in number, literacy and IT is more likely to succeed for many of our students by not expecting them to sit in repeated GCSE type courses. FE is a place where such students find opportunities for development, but even FE needs to change the way it works.

  • A Social Liberal 2nd Mar '14 - 2:24pm

    @ Nonconformistradical

    But it does for itself. How much more does the average graduate earn as a direct result of their degree? How much more does the government then receive in taxes?

    Then of course, there are all the not directly financial advantages – the fact that the country has the necessary amount of engineers, scientists, doctors and teachers in order to function as a nation.

    All in all, the country gains much more than it loses.

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