Welcome from Martin Reid: Learning from experience

 

Martin Reid, Director of SET

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It’s fair to say that this year, like last, hasn’t been quite as we had planned, or hoped, so far. The imposition of another national lockdown on 4 January brought in another age of online learning for those in further education.

This time, though, we were more prepared than when the first lockdown was imposed in March 2020. Educators and learners have learned important lessons about what works well and what doesn’t, and were able to switch back into remote mode fairly seamlessly. You can read about some of the experiences in our feature on page 20, which also examines the role online learning might play in the future.

That’s not to say, though, that there haven’t been challenges. Delivering education in prison settings remotely and keeping prisoners motivated has been described as hugely problematic, while many learners – both adults and young people – still lack both the equipment needed to learn effectively online and the environment in which to do it.

This has created real concerns that the challenge of ‘levelling up’ and ensuring equality of opportunity for all has got more difficult, which is the theme of our cover interview with Justine Greening.

Having made significant strides towards this aim during her time in office, Greening is now working through the Social Mobility Pledge to bring businesses and the world of education together to help ensure better prospects for those from less privileged backgrounds. The pandemic has also made it hard for the delivery of specialist education, particularly in the creative sector, and this issue we take a look at some of the challenges facing arts colleges.

However, there are reasons to be positive; the vaccine roll-out continues apace and brings real hope of a return to relative normality over the coming months. The Government’s Skills for Jobs White Paper has also been largely well received by the sector. You can read more about our interpretation of the proposals in David Russell’s column on page 8.

With so much change and uncertainty, it’s possible that many in the sector will be open to new opportunities. Our careers advice feature includes tips to help you progress, whether that’s moving within an organisation or into a new role, or even a different part of the sector. On page 12, we present our Advice piece by Joe Fautley, an associate trainer with lived experience of autism and dyspraxia, who outlines how educators can help deliver the best experience for those with autism.

My thanks and admiration go to all those in the FE sector who have helped ensure that the delivery of education has been able to continue in such difficult circumstances.  And thank you for being a member of SET. Your support is vital so we can continue in our mission to champion the status of the profession.

Martin Reid, Director of SET

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