No one is fanatically shouting at the sun

‘You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.’ ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ Robert M. Pirsig At the Policy Consortium, we’re fanatical about the future of FE […]

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Is it time for an end to personality politics and the FE sector?

Depending on where you draw your line in history, you could argue that we’ve been providing formal education and training for around 2500 years. During that time, countless men and women have dedicated their whole lives to perfecting the art of teaching. This art form has a continuum from the micro to the macro – from working with an individual learner to designing a nation’s whole education landscape in which that teacher works. The question is: do we now know […]

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Wilshaw engineers the conditions for failure

Ofsted Chief Inspector Michael Wilshaw misses the point entirely in his recent attacks on the adequacy and sufficiency of FE. The prime goal is not that all learners should succeed beyond expectation, though of course they should, it’s that all stakeholders must work tirelessly to create the conditions for success. In 2014’s autumn term, Study Programme requirements hit colleges hard, although that was not the intention. A telling line from Department for Education’s original guidance on Study Programmes shows their […]

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The frustrations of an inspector

The road ahead by Mani Babbar

I was on inspection recently and, yet again, found myself frustrated by the college’s self-assessment report. It wasn’t the weariness brought on by the usual furlongs of PR text, it was far more saddening. You see, the curriculum leads had really worn their hearts on their sleeves and acknowledged their provision had a long way to go to reach ours, let alone their own, expectations. In some instances, it’s taken me up to two years to help providers go through […]

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Time for an end to macho lesson observation practice

Tony Davis observing in Saudi Arabia

I was taking part in a consultancy inspection at a college recently when I became incensed by the twisted rhetoric of some ‘inspectors’. Comments such as: “You can ‘sniff’ the grade after 10 minutes,” and “20 minutes should be enough for them to impress you,” betray not just an unforgivable laziness, but a wholehearted missing of the point. It’s time for an end to this macho lesson observation practice. If you’re one of these inspectors, or perhaps worse still, one […]

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