Responding to the big FE and Skills Challenges


AELP CEO discusses the main challenges to the further education and skills sector

The ability to work successful with employers is the unique selling point that makes training providers well placed to handle the considerable challenges posed by the further education and skills sector.

This was the key message from the Association of Employment and Learning Providers new CEO Stewart Segal in his address at the AELP Autumn Conference

“Providers are meeting the current challenges from a position of strength. Nevertheless we have to work even more closely with employers. We have to put them at the centre of the programmes and balance their needs with the needs of learners, while delivering quality services.” – Stewart Segal

The big challenges:

Stewart Segal highlighted several short and long-term challenges to the FE sector as providers adapt to the Governments ‘rigour and responsiveness in skills’ agenda.

Short term:

  • Careers Guidance - Introduction of Raising the Participation Age and change in careers guidance.
  • Funding System – Changing to the new SFA funding system and matrix, a new ‘streamlined system’
  • New Programmes – Introduction of Study Programmes and Traineeships
  • 24+ Advanced Learning Loans
  • Success Rates - Work Programme success rates and links with SFA Provision for the Unemployed programme
  • Ofsted – The new Common Inspection Framework.

Medium and longer term: 

  • Government Investment - reducing investment in adult skills and the possible extension of loans
  • Flexibility - retaining flexibility in contracts, creating an outcome responsive curriculum.
  • Equality - improving the level playing field for independent providers
  • Localism agenda
  • Apprenticeship reform
  • Qualification reform
  • Contracts - Youth Contract, Work Programme 2 and Work Choice. 

In his address Segal expressed considerable optimism that sector would be able to adapt quickly to the changing further education and skills landscape.

What are the biggest challenges to the further education sector? Share your views in the comments section below.

Tor Macleod 09:17

UK Employment Rate 71.7% - Infographic

The latest workforce statistics from Office for National Statistics show UK employment figures at 71.7%. In June to August there were 29.87 million employed in the UK, an increase of 279,000 the same time last year.

Out latest labour market infographic gives a snapshot of UK employment and unemployment statistics. (view full size)

labour market oct 2013 sml

Our Previous Labour Market Infographics

September 2013 |  July 2013 | June 2013 |  May 2013April 2013 | March 2013 | February 2013

Like this Infographic? - copy the code below to share it on your website.

<a style="border: none;" title="UK LABOUR MARKET OCT 2013" href=""><img alt="UK LABOUR MARKET OCT 2013" src=""></a><br/>Infographic by <a title="Macleod Associates" href="">Macleod Associates</a>

Tor Macleod 12:40

Does The Education System Meet Business Needs?

A survey of UK businesses found that 50% believe that the current education system does not adequately prepare learners for the world of work. 

Skills mismatch

According to research by awarding body City and Guilds, employers named lack of work experience as a key barrier to work for young people, as well them failing to understand what employers are looking for.

The issue is not simply a lack of job opportunities,” commented Chris Jones, chief executive of City & Guilds.

"There is a more fundamental problem with the qualifications, core skills and lack of understanding of the workplace that is preventing young people from successfully finding employment. It is clear that a step change is needed in the education system to move away from a pure focus on academia towards a curriculum that meets the needs of employers."

Continue reading on Fenews - Half of employers believe education system not meeting business needs

Tor Macleod 12:22

Top 20 Further Education Leaders To Follow On Twitter


Here at Macleod Associates we love technology, we use it all the time. Its no secret that technology is changing the way we teach – and Twitter is changing the way we can talk about further education and keep on top of the latest news.

Figuring out who to follow on Twitter can take a bit of work, so to make life a little bit easier we have compiled a list of the top people to follow in further education (with a few higher education pros thrown in too). We chose these people because they talk about further education, skills and education politics, and share top news and resources.

Here is our pick of the top 20 further education leaders to follow on Twitter (in no particular order). Have we forgotten someone? Share your favourite education tweeters in the comments below or tweet us @macleodassoc.

1. Matthew Hancock - @matthancockmp

Matthew HancockAs Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) Matthew Hancock is a pretty good place to start for your source of further education tweets. He is responsible for Apprenticeships, 6th Forms and Further Education across the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and The Department for Education.  Matthew Hancock tweets the latest from the BIS and skills and employment news.


2. Jason Elsom - @jasonelsom

Jason Elsom“After working as the CEO of a telecoms and internet group I decided to 'give something back' and during the next 5 years I chose a path that took me through some of the most challenging schools in England before joining the SLT at a Further Education College. Through this journey I gained true appreciation of the challenges faced by today's educators and it truly is a career of conviction.

Today I am privileged work with schools, colleges, universities, governments and commercial organisations. On Twitter I believe that it's important to provide a source of educational news, to provide inspiration and support, to share stories and to develop a realisation that no teacher is alone. I see the same challenges faced by educators across the globe. It is important to me that through my work the education sector gains a real appreciation of the changes in employment and skills primarily through the sharing of information from innovative organisations. For my commercial following that they gain an insight into the challenges faced by education.”


3. Sam Freedman - @Samfr

Sam FreedmanSam is Director of Research, Evaluation and Impact at Teach First. From 2009 to February of this year he was an adviser to Michael Gove. After the 2010 election he worked as a senior policy adviser in the DfE focusing particularly on structural reform; funding and teacher training. Prior to working in Whitehall Sam was the Head of Education at Policy Exchange where he wrote reports on a wide variety of issues.

“I mainly tweet about education policy but can tweet about pretty much anything!”


4. John Gill - @JG_THE

John Gill“I am editor of Times Higher Education, and tweet about anything that’s making waves in academia, including (but not limited to) news, views, longer reads, ideas, arguments and (well sourced) gossip. THE also publishes the annual Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and while our HQ is in London, our focus is very much worldwide.”


5. Nick Lindford - @NickLinford

Nick LindfordManaging director of Lsect, and editor of the newspaper FE Week, Nick is passionate about the contribution that the post-16 learning and skills sector makes to peoples lives and the UK economy. Since 2006 Nick has been playing a leading role in policy development and training in the use of funding, performance and curriculum planning. Follow Nick for his thoughts on further education and skills as well as the latest news from FEweek.


6. Brian Lightman - @brianlightman

Brian LightmanBrian Lightman became General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) on 1st September 2010. With his extensive experience as a teacher, school leader, external examiner, Estyn inspector and representative of school and college leaders Brian is an acknowledged and high profile authority on the English and Welsh education systems.

“I use Twitter to tell people what ASCL is doing and include links to our policies, press releases, blogs and articles. I also like to tweet and retweet links to topical items relating to education. It is a powerful medium which often leads to useful links with a whole host of individuals and organisations.”


7. Sarah Simons - @MrsSarahSimons

Sarah Simons“I work in FE colleges in the East Midlands and I write about FE matters for IfL's InTuition Magazine and for the TES, as well as producing and presenting the TES FE Podcast. While conducting a bit of light research for a TES opinion piece I searched my Twitter account, trying to locate fellow FE types, especially practitioners. After much frustration and at least an hour’s digging round Twitter I posted an irritated tweet - ‘Are there FE lecturers on Twitter that I haven’t found yet? So far I've located about 15 in total. Surely there are more. Please help!’

After several popular education types retweeted this call to arms to their thousands of followers, a small but happy band of FE enthusiasts gathered. On that day we decided on a time to meet and a topic to discuss and #ukfechat was born. In less than a year the gathering has expanded to such a point where #ukfechat often trends nationally during the discussion. We meet every Thursday at 9pm and use the #ukfechat. Anyone of any level with an interest in FE is welcome and details of chats past and future are on the website.”


8. Seb Schmoller - @sebschmoller

Seb SchmollerSeb has been actively involved in online learning since the early 1990s and is a Governor of The Sheffield College and a board member of the awarding body NOCN. He currently leads the Ufi Charitable Trust funded "Citizens' Maths" project - which is aiming to make a Level 2 Maths MOOC. For the last 10 years Seb has intermittently written the blog Fortnightly Mailing - Follow Seb for tweets about education, technology in learning, and politics.


9. Ben Verinder - @BenVerinder

Ben VerinderPrior to establishing Chalkstream Communications Ben worked full time as Director of Communications with the Association of Colleges. (With projects including research into College Provision for the Unemployed ) Ben is an accredited Chartered Institute of Public Relations practitioner, judge on a number of PR and journalism awards, a member of the advisory board for PR Week’s Leaders in Communications’ events and blogs at

“I tweet about Further Education but also communications, marketing, PR in the round.”


10. Chris Husbands - @Director_IOE

Chris Husbands“I am Director of the Institute of Education (IOE) - the UK's leading centre for research in education and related social science and one of the world's leading graduate schools of education.

I am passionate about high quality teaching and what makes it possible. I am driven by research and data and I am very interested in the possibilities and problems of international comparison. I blog frequently through the IOE and I try to get beneath the headlines - setting ideas and issues in both an international context and the context of recent education history.”


11. David Hughes - @davidhNIACE

David Hughues David tweets as Chief Executive of NIACE (@NIACEhq), an independent charity which promotes adult learning across England and Wales. Through its research, development, publications, events, outreach and advocacy activity – which David shares thoughts and updates on - NIACE works to improve the quality and breadth of opportunities available for all adults so they can benefit from learning throughout their lives.


12. John Dunford - @johndunford

John DunfordJohn Dunford is chair of Whole Education, the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors and the charity Worldwide Volunteering and is a trustee of the charity, Education for All, as well as carrying out his educational consultancy.

In 1994 John was awarded the OBE for services to education. After over 40 years in numerous education roles involving leadership, policy making and government relations, during which he has been influential in shaping national education policy and widely quoted in the media, John has retained a deep knowledge of schools and teaching. He has written extensively on national education policy, especially in the fields of accountability, curriculum, assessment, 14 to 19 education, leadership and inspection.


13. Lynne Sedgemore - @157lynne

Dr Lynne SedgmoreLynne is Executive Director of the 157 Group of FE Colleges and advises Whitehall on projects including leadership, innovation, vocational education and community/interfaith cohesion. Lynne was previously Chief Executive of the Centre for Excellence in Leadership, Principal of Guildford College, Vice Principal of Croydon College and Head of Croydon Business School.

“I like to tweet on hot policy issues in FE, to support teaching and learning practitioners and to highlight the good work of the 157 Group. It also keeps me up to date on new announcements, different perspectives and expands my horizons to see what 157 and non 157 colleges are interested in.”


14. Sarah Knight - @sarahknight

SKSarah is a programme manager for the e-Learning Innovation programme at Jisc, the UK charity which provides digital services for education and research. Her focus is primarily on how the effective and appropriate use of technology can support and enhance the student experience.

Her areas of work include digital literacies and students expectations in relation to technology and curriculum design. Sarah has worked extensively on supporting further education with the effective use of technology and is currently contributing to the BIS Further Education Technology Action Group.


15. Steve Besley - @SteveBesley

Steve Besley"I am Head of Policy at Pearson where I am responsible for advising, monitoring and reporting on the latest education developments. As part of this I run a regular policy briefing and updating service, with accompanying twitter feed, that goes out widely to anyone interested in the world of education or perhaps just trying to keep up with it all.

Most of the key policy developments are covered in regular weekly briefings that go out in a simple, easy to read, 'tell me what I need to know' format under the brand title of Policy Watch. Whether it's qualification reform, announcements on skills and apprenticeships, developments in schools and higher education, even monster Government Reports, Policy Watch will be there in some form, trying to make sense of it all."


16. Stephen Exley - @stephenexley

Stephen ExleyStephen has been working at TES since 2010 and covers the teaching workforce, pay and conditions, Ofsted, the unions and further education. He also covers news from Australia and New Zealand.

Stephen was previously the education correspondent at the Cambridge News. He was the winner of the award for outstanding further education journalism at the CIPR Education Journalism Awards 2012.


17. Lindsay McCurdy - @App4England

Lindsay McCurdy

Lindsay is CEO Apprenticeships 4 England and Ambassador at European Alliance for Apprenticeships. Lindsay uses this account to share news from the Apprenticeships 4 England LinkedIn group, which has 16k members. Apprenticeships 4 England as a company works with Training Providers, Colleges, Sector Skills Councils, Businesses and all stakeholders involved in apprenticeships to drive the quality and to do our part to increase the number of apprenticeships opportunities.

“I promote best practice in apprenticeships training provision, sector jobs and events with the latest apprenticeships news stories which are happening in the apprenticeship sector on a daily basis.”


18. Matthew Pearson - @mattpearson

MPMatthew is an education consultant with specific interest in technology and education. In his blog and on Twitter he aims to stimulate a debate about how education could be improved with technology and new approaches.

“I am never going to be a social media guru. But will tweet with interesting people.”


19. Julian Gravatt - @JulianGravatt

Julian GravattJulian is Assistant Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC) which represents and promotes Colleges in England. As part of his role at the AoC Julian works to makes the College case to the UK government and advises College principals on policy, finance and regulatory issues. He tweets about the business, law and politics of education.


20. Sean Coughlan - @seanjcoughlan

Sean CoughlanBBC News education correspondent Sean Coughlan was awarded Education Journalist of the Year in December 2011. Sean tweets the latest education and further education stories from the UK and around the world as well as his features for the BBC.


There just wasn’t enough space to fit in all the great companies and not for profit organisations working hard to spread the word of further education, please stay tuned for our list of the top companies to follow on Twitter ( Any suggestions? Tweet them to us @macleodassoc)

Tor Macleod 08:13

Infographic; Transforming Further Education & Skills Delivery


What is the secret ingredient of an outstanding further education skills provider?

Since the beginning of the work programme the idea that training and education should lead to sustainable employment ‘outcomes’ has spread across educational contracting.

With this Government focus on outcome responsive curriculum it is increasingly important to be able to record and track these outcomes in order to claim funding. However, in a recent survey of FE colleges 71% said that tracking learner progress and outcomes was a key barrier to successful delivery.

Transforming FE crop

Why do we need better data?

Without accurate learner data it is difficult to effectively assess the success of further education and skills provision. With better data it is easier to improve completion rates, identify courses that overcome barriers to work and importantly have all the data and reporting you need to show Ofsted just how outstanding you are!

Solving 7 common delivery challenges

Common delivery challenges for FE colleges, training providers and welfare to work providers include:

  1. Engaging with learners
  2. Reporting – financial and staff
  3. Destination & outcome tracking
  4. Data compliance
  5. Workforce management
  6. Resource Management
  7. Drill Down Reporting

Macleod Associates has worked for 3 years with further education colleges and training companies to build a system that would overcome these common challenges. The resulting Workpepper system provides a stable platform to engage and manage learners including destination and outcome tracking.

How can we help you? Find our how Workpepper could transform you training delivery. For more information please contact us or ask about a free trial.

Our new Transforming Further Education Skills Delivery infographic gives a snapshot of how technology and data can transform the FE landscape. [view full size]

Transforming FE Skills sml

Like this Infographic? - copy the code below to share it on your website.

<a style="border: none;" title="Infographic; Transforming Further Education & Skills Delivery" href=""><img alt="Transforming Further Education & Skills Delivery" src=""></a><br/>Infographic by <a title="Macleod Associates" href="">Macleod Associates</a>

Tor Macleod 07:17


Connect With Us

Twitter @macleodassoc Google + Email Us

Latest Blogs

Blog Archive

Blogs we follow