It is the 11th April, students are now away and it’s an opportunity to try and catch up with the nitty gritty of FE. As weeks go, it has still been very busy particularly on Tuesday when I was in London with AoC meeting the Trade Unions. There is no doubt that there is a great deal of challenge for our sector and even travelling back on the train I couldn’t help think about why FE has the poorest rates of funding of any educational provision. Perhaps I’m sheltered a little as I have the luxury of working with some brilliant people in further education across the South West.
For the last few years I have been representing PPC for the South West and Wales region and we have had to deal with a couple of difficult cases, all of which have surrounded either funding challenges or a break down in relationships between management and governors. I have also had the opportunity to see how different colleges operate but most of all to see the excellent practice in place within our sector.
Last week for instance we had the first Apprenticeship Trail Blazer on the Pier in Weston super Mare, together with high winds and pouring rain! Irrespective the apprentices who were graduating and their families had a brilliant time. As our guest speaker we had a finalist from the series The Apprentice, Jim Eastwood. His speech was both charismatic and inspiring but most importantly it was a gathering of the clans; the local council, the National Apprenticeship Service, the college, employers and the graduates themselves all met up to celebrate success, which in many cases was inspirational.
Today I am back in college and we are looking at the budgets for both this year and next year. We are trying to make sure we make a surplus for this year and that despite the cuts we can achieve a balanced position for next year.
As I conclude this blog, it is 20 past 3 and a sunny afternoon here in North Somerset. It has been a busy day with discussions with PPC members and a review of our capital strategy with one of my Corporate Management Team members. As I drove past the local schools today I noticed the empty car parks. FE clearly runs on a different timetable, but I wouldn’t change it for the world because we make a difference to so many.