Welcome from Martin Reid: In with the new
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After the trials and tribulations that 2020 has brought, it has been immensely satisfying for all of us at SET to have delivered such a successful conference last month. It was, of course, entirely virtual, but we saw a record 473 people join us on the day, and more catching up after the event.
We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback on both the day itself and the content, and if you did miss it you can get a flavour of the event on page 24. It goes to show just how well the sector, and society as a whole, has adapted to the challenges posed by Covid-19.
That’s not to underestimate just how difficult this year has been, however. FE practitioners from all parts of the sector have found themselves working under circumstances they could never have imagined 12 months ago, and in conditions and restrictions which we now consider ‘normal’. But aside from the practicalities of teaching in a pandemic, many practitioners have also found themselves having to cope with higher levels of stress and anxiety among students, and that’s something our cover feature seeks to help with this issue.
There is now real hope that a vaccine could offer a route out of the measures we have wrestled with this year. In any kind of post-Covid recovery, making sure learners of all ages can access the support they need to develop skills that will help them in a difficult economic climate is essential. This is a central message from our interview with AELP’s Jane Hickie, which you can find on page 14. Don’t miss our sector focus, either, which this issue explores some of the challenges providers to the prison sector have faced as a result of the restrictions, and what needs to happen if education is to help rehabilitate offenders.
The big issues in society do not go away during a pandemic either, and the topic of equality, diversity and inclusion remains one that the FE sector must continue to get to grips with. Our feature on page 21 provides some guidance on how to do this.
You’ll also find bound into this issue a supplement dedicated to practitioner development and research. Such collaborative and teacher-led research is essential if practitioners are to fulfil their potential and help both learners and peers benefit, and the ETF offers a number of practical options to help people in this area. You can also find our usual practitioner-led section, starting on page 30, which features pieces from Dr Neil Peirson, Dr Paul Robbins, Kathryn Langford and Martine Ellis.
This is our last issue of the year and, while Christmas may be a different experience this year to what we are used to, I would like to wish you all an enjoyable break, and hope that we can look forward to a gradual return to something that resembles normality in 2021.
Martin Reid, Director of SET
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