How’s the Education and Training Foundation doing?

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has been going for a year now. Its remit includes the adult and community learning sector and its aims are:

  • To raise the quality and professionalism of teachers and trainers across the FE and training sector.
  • To deliver consistently excellent outcomes for learners and employers.
  • To support Colleges and training providers of all types in achieving their own improvement objectives.
  • To promote this vibrant sector to employers and national influencers, and raise awareness of its vital role in rebalancing the economy.

The ETF’s main website is here and they tweet via @E_T_Foundation.

The Foundation supports the Excellence Gateway, building on the legacy of work begun by LSIS, the former Learning and Skills Improvement Service. This, “provides online access to an unrivalled breadth of resources for everyone working in the wider learning and skills sector in England.” The Foundation is also now responsible for ‘stewardship’ of the former Institute for Learning’s legacy.

This video on professional standards is an example of their resources which also include support for leaders, managers and governance through the Excellence in Leadership, Management and Governance (ELMAG) programme.

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There’s a self-assessed review of the ETF’s successes and achievements after its first year here.

ETF1

In his introduction to the document, David Russell, the ETF’s CEO says, “Keep on talking to us, engaging with us, and spreading the word about what we’re doing. Remember – we’re owned by you. So please – use us.”

Do you know about the Foundation?

Have you used its resources, been to its events, contributed to its research or been involved in other ways?

What do you think of it?

ETF Expert Panels meet

I didn’t know what to expect from the induction day for members of the Education and Training Foundation‘s Expert Panel members on Friday.

Three of us who had never met before had unorthodox introductions to each other. By coincidence, we were sitting in adjacent seats on a train approaching Birmingham and all looking a bit flumoxed by a distinctive map with embedded photos showing directions to the meeting’s venue. The instructions looked impressive at first glance but there was too much visual information for us. In fact, the plain text in the footer of the page contained all the necessary guidance.

Working out how to get to the meeting was an unintended but effective ice-breaker.

Members of all four Expert Panels attended the event. We were a diverse group in terms of experience and access to networks across FE, HE, skills, community learning, unions, teacher training, accreditation, policy, research and more widely, including – most importantly – learners.

ETF

There’s information about Expert Panels here and a list of Expert Panel members here. (The ETF is updating and relaunching the website next month.)

The day was well-structured with ‘get to know each other’ activities and changes of pace between information giving and dialogue, plenary sessions and group work. The collective experience brought with it a sense of realism with acknowledgement of the challenges, including:

  • cynicism from sectors who have seen so much change;
  • capacity to make a difference;
  • providers’ and employers’ uncertainty about the ETF’s purpose, relevance and relationship with current and previous organisations.

The analysis was unflinching but held no surprises and set a tone for open discussion.

Individual panels met in the afternoon to review plans and find out about work already in progress. We also discussed ways of working with each other, relationships with the ETF’s staff and governance and connecting our wide networks to make the most of communication channels. The Panel on Professional Standards and Workforce Development gelled quickly and we are likely to work well together.

So, what next? We might stretch an analogy from the ‘strangers on a train’ scenario where three of us tried to make sense of our maps?

Panel members spoke to each other instinctively having spotted some potential connection. We were willing to admit to a bit of confusion. We established common ground fairly quickly and worked out the directions together by distilling the available information. Each of us would have got there on our own with the information that the venue’s managers had provided, but it was easier to make sense of it together.

Of course analogies are trite and superficial. A simple route-planning task is no match for addressing the ETF’s challenges, but at least there’s a positive attitude of collaborative problem solving.

There were some social media exchanges and further train discussions after the meeting. A colleague summed this up with the comment: “Bit of a buzz after the event which is no bad thing!”