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Wagging the tail of failure - reactions to the Kennedy report

FE article | Published in TES Newspaper on 4 July, 1997 | By: tes editorial

DAVID HART, GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE NAHT

"The Kennedy Committee report recognises that the 'tail of under-achievement' has to be tackled radically. The Govern-ment's Welfare to Work prog-ramme is only part of the post-16 scene. Accordingly, the report rightly focuses on the needs of those who have few or no qualifications.

"For instance, relying on Lottery funds might 'let the Government off the hook'. Forcing individuals who can afford to pay a higher prop-ortion of the costs is danger-ously close to yet more means-tested education. Targetting money at the most disadvan-taged educationally is right but, if it reduces other college fund-ing or adversely affects schools, it will meet with hostility.

"Above all, while I appreciate that the Kennedy Committee concentrates on further education, it is vital that a national strategy emerges which places both schools and colleges at the heart of post-16 provision. Competition needs to be tempered by partnership. There must be a level playing field to cover post-16 careers advice and guidance.

"The needs of students are paramount. Structures and funding must serve, not control, that objective."

DAN TAUBMAN, NATFHE ASSISTANT SECRETARY

"The Kennedy report is a welcome breath of fresh air through an FE system that has been under-valued, under-funded and under-used as a service capable of reaching the three-fifths of the population who have been denied their place in the learning world.

"FE must now be given a serious funding commitment to shift the recommendations on strategic planning, partnerships and the curriculum from rhetoric to reality.

"Further and adult education have a brilliant track record in opening up new learning opportunities to ever larger numbers of students. FE can and will respond to these challenges, but there has to be a recognition that the sector is at rock bottom in terms of funding and morale.

"The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education believes its call for a national inquiry to draw up a recovery plan for FE is more timely than ever to ensure the sector meets the challenges that Kennedy and the new Government may make."

ALAN WELLS, DIRECTOR OF THE BASIC SKILLS AGENCY

"I think Learning Works is a major step forward.

"People who benefited least from school - including the six million who have poor basic skills - have too often been put at the end of the queue for FE. The impact of this approach is the 'long tail' of under-educated people in the UK.

"I particularly welcome the priority given to strategic partnerships. We need to encourage more collaboration and improved planning to widen participation; it's encouraging that partnerships are already developing to raise standards of basic skills.

"I also welcome the proposal for national promotion. We need to do more to reach the 'excluded' and to make sure that those who have benefited least can see that they are a high priority and not 'written off' as once and for all failures.

"Learning Works suggests the radical shift we need in post-school education" ADRIAN PERRY, PRINCIPAL, LAMBETH COLLEGE

"London colleges have Kennedy children in their classrooms - 77 per cent of inner-London FE students come from deprived areas, compared with 3 per cent nationally. The e report brings long overdue recognition that these students are being deprived of the funding they need to support their learning.

"This report gives the Government a clear prescription on the funding which is necessary to cure the wasting disease which has afflicted FE in London.

"If the Further Education Funding Council drives all colleges to a single funding level before the Kennedy recommendations are implemented, the survival of colleges serving some of the neediest communities in Britain will be put at risk.

"More than 200,000 Londoners are increasing their skills and qualifications in inner London colleges. Collectively, London colleges contribute significantly to the economic prosperity of the capital, developing the vocational skills that employers so badly need. London colleges therefore intend that the publication of this report should be a turning point in attitudes to their work and their funding."

Judith Norrington, curriculum director, Association of Colleges "The report sets out a bold vision of a society supporting its citizens to raise skill levels and to attain qualifications to at least Advanced level. Can the vision become a reality? In relation to the curriculum, I believe that it can. Helena is pushing at an open door from the point of view of colleges. The committee has expediently started from where we are now; it has not sought to change qualifications overnight.

"It is very much a case of adapting what already exists to meet additional needs. Helena proposes a unitised curriculum supported by a credit frame-work, with a range of measures to better reflect learning achieved, and mechanisms to check that all providers are operating under similar conditions.

"It will be crucial for the funding councils to have data-bases and systems that can adapt to unit funding, for a central register to be created of available units and appropriate combinations of units to avoid duplication and to safeguard student progression.

"Genuine partnership and the co-ordination of different agencies will be crucial in taking forward work already begun on the harmonisation of quality assurance systems and on the measurement of performance across FE."


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