First step for colleges

By Steve Frampton, President, Association of Colleges

Finally, the transformational impact of Further Education as an essential part of our education system has been recognised with a personal endorsement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid. Working together with a strong coalition of support we have gained additional money and support for the vital work we do and the importance of skills within a 21st century economy. This is very welcome and many principals have been in touch with me and colleagues at AoC to celebrate this success. However it is only the first step on a long road to our colleges receiving the recognition they deserve. We must build on this success, campaign for longer term funding increases to meet the challenges we have set out in our spending asks and champion our outstanding colleges every day.

These are strange political times and it is almost certain we will be facing another general election before 2019 is out. Our Annual Conference will proceed on 19th November and this is such an important event for us all as a membership organisation and a community of professionals working together. This year we will be focusing on our campaign and the conference will be an opportunity to come together, share ideas and tactics and to hear from others who have successfully campaigned for long term and sustainable change. Annual conference offers so much (register here if you haven’t already) – professional development, best practice sharing, policy information and the opportunity to network. From our keynote speakers to expert workshop leaders we certainly hope it is an inspirational jam-packed two days.

We have achieved a lot, showing the impact of further education to policy makers, the public and politicians. Not only this, #LoveOurColleges highlighted the valuable but less seen side of college’s contribution in the areas they serve. From innovative projects, engaging with people of all ages in the community and supporting local businesses, colleges are a huge force for good. We have come a long way and perceptions are changing, but there is more to do. Annual Conference 2019 is the perfect opportunity to build that momentum and set our sights high for change. I look forward to seeing you and your teams in Birmingham.