Until now the Cinderella of the education make-up of England and Wales, further education has now discovered its role in Labour’s modernised service.FE colleges will be at the heart of the drive to meet the skills and productivity challenge of the new economy.
David Blunkett has unveiled a three-part plan involving investment of 100 million pounds over three years for colleges to become regionally and nationally recognised vocational centres of excellence in their chosen specialist areas.
Also promised is a status boost for college teachers (currently lagging behind either schoolteacher or HE lecturer).
This comes on top of almost 800 million pounds already announced to improve the sector.
The whole package amounts to a 16 per cent increase in income for colleges.
The model for specialism to drive up college performance is found in secondary schools which have been seen to improve after taking on specialist roles.
The target is that by 2004-5 half of all colleges should be centres of excellence for a particular vocational subject, building on the progress in those topics made by specialist schools.
The Government has already signalled that it will look for college lecturers to be properly qualified, and it is now promising to match this with improved pay, with an indication of an extra fifty million pounds for this purpose next year and a hundred million the year after.
Free copies of the ‘Colleges for Excellence and Innovation’ pamphlet, which has full details of the announcement, can be obtained by quoting reference CFEI, from DfEE Publications, PO Box 5050, Sherwood Park, Annesley, Nottingham. NG15 ODJ