Hot Topic 1

T Levels: Opportunity or Bust?

This hot topic session offers the opportunity for delegates to hear from policy makers and implementors and discuss this key policy and its impact on colleges and students:

  • Are T Levels the magic bullet?

  • Can we afford to run T Levels and can we afford for T Levels to be specialised?

  • Are Work Placements achievable?

  • Is the assessment process fit for purpose?

  • What will ensure T Levels gain the momentum required with key stakeholders?


  • Sue Lovelock, Deputy Director, Technical Education DfE

  • Lucy Sydney, Director of Strategic Relationships VTQ

  • Amanda Melton, Principal, Nelson and Colne College

  • Bhavina Bharkhada, Education and Skills Policy Advisor, EEF (The Manufacturers’ Organisation)

Hot Topic 2

Intervention, Prevention and Support

This hot topic explores benefits and burdens of the intervention system and how the separate regulatory arms of government work collaboratively.

The panel will discuss:

  • the scale and scope of intervention

  • the role and number of regulators

  • sector capacity building

  • the root causes of intervention

  • how and when to ask for help


  • Richard Atkins CBE, FE Commissioner

  • Karen Redhead, Chief Executive & Principal, Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College

  • Paul Joyce, HMI, Deputy Director, Further Education and Skills

  • Peter Mucklow, Director, Further Education, ESFA

Hot Topic 3

128 days later: Brexit and International Skills

This session will provide an update for colleges on Brexit developments as the UK prepares to leave the EU. It will cover implications for colleges around staff, students, and college operations.

The session will also introduce the UK Skills Partnership to outline ways in which the UK can meet international demand for skills.

The panel will invite questions and comments from the audience, discussing approaches to help colleges plan for the future.


  • Emma Meredith, International Director, Association of Colleges

  • Julian Gravatt, Deputy Chief Executive, Association of Colleges

  • Lesley Davies OBE, Principal & Chief Executive, Trafford College Group and Chair, UK Skills Partnership

Slower and Poorer: How is the employer led system working out?

Many recent policy reforms in the realm of apprenticeships have claimed to put employers firmly in the driving seat.

The scale and rate of change has been profound – the levy, 20% of the job training, end point assessments and new sub-contracting rules to name just a few.

This session explores the impact these changes are having on the ground and the reality of an employer led system.


  • Teresa Frith, Senior Skills Policy Manager, Association of Colleges

  • Rob Davies, Regional Delivery Manager, CITB

  • Keith Smith, Director of Apprenticeships, ESFA

  • Lowell Williams, CEO, Dudley College

hot topic 4

hot topic 5

What future for Applied General qualifications?


Over 140,000 16 to 18-year-olds are enrolled on Applied General qualifications. They clearly meet an important need and provide good progression to higher education and to employment.

Applied Generals are being reformed and the forthcoming review of qualifications at level 3 and below may lead to further changes, as T-levels are introduced.

What are the benefits of the current Applied Generals and how will we meet the need for a general applied route in the new educational landscape?


  • Will Longhill, Head of Qualifications Review Unit, Department for Education

  • Shireen Razey, Deputy Collegiate Principal, Christ The King College

  • Cindy Rampersaud, Senior Vice President, Pearson BTEC and Apprenticeship

What does the future hold for College HE?

Higher education in England is witnessing an unprecedented level of change. With the OfS as the new regulator, QAA as the Designated Quality Body, TEF as an indicator of teaching excellence, active promotion of Degree Apprenticeships, competition for setting up IoTs and with two major reviews underway: post-18 education review and review of level 4/5, what does the future really hold for college HE?


  • John Widdowson, Principal and Chief Executive, New College Durham

  • Andy Forbes, Principal, City and Islington

  • Debra Gray, Principal, Grimsby College

hot topic 6

Locked in transition: What is the offer for Level 1/2 learners?

hot topic 7


With the current focus on T Levels it is often forgotten that very many young students in colleges are working well below Level 3.

While some of these young people might, in time, progress to T Levels, others are more likely to move onto an apprenticeship or directly into employment.

Come and join this hot topic with contributions from DfE, and a college perspective to discuss and explore what kind of offer is most appropriate and beneficial for these students.


  • Helen Brooks, SEND, Alternative Provision and Attendance Unit, Department for Education

  • Lindsey Johnson, Vice Principal Curriculum and Support, The Manchester College

  • Graham Razey, Group Principal and Chief Executive, East Kent College Group

Systems vs Markets: Scripting the future?

hot topic 8


Policy makers, often through force of habit refer to a ‘further education system’. The reality is a set of inter-connected markets or quasi-markets for different streams of FE (and HE) activity.

Policy makers hope for the best of both worlds’ (i.e. a combination of markets and system, or markets and governmental ‘steering’). This session explores the issues raised by increased marketization and paints three possible scenarios we could aim for in the future.


  • Professor Ewart Keep, Director, Department of Education, Oxford University

  • Jill Westerman, Vice Chair of FETL

  • Richard Caulfield, Area Director, North West Region, Association of Colleges

  • Kirsti Lord, Deputy Chief Executive (Member Services), Association of Colleges