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3. Teaching and learning within Further Education and their implications for 14 – 19 education and training

The future role of further education colleges: evidence submitted to the Foster Review Kathryn Ecclestone, University of Nottingham

Debate about 14 – 19 education and training has been partly framed by wider discussions about the future of further education, in particular Sir Andrew Foster’s review Realising the Potential: A review of the future role of further education colleges (DfES, 2005b). In this context, given that the TLRP is committed to supporting the development of evidence-informed policy and practice, it is appropriate to start with a consideration of the response which TLRP made collectively to the Foster review. In February 2006, researchers from four projects3 researching policy, teaching and learning in the learning and skills sector and further education colleges met to discuss evidence and emerging findings from their projects in relation to the questions and recommendations emanating from the Foster review of further education. In due course, we anticipate that the work of these projects will be refined further to produce a research-based set of principles for effective teaching and learning in further education colleges, to go alongside the research-based set of principles for effective teaching and learning in schools which the TLRP hs already produced (James and Pollard, 2006). The researchers’ continuing dialogue with policy-makers associated with the Foster review emphasised the role of research in policy formulation, policy and governance and mission and purpose in FE colleges. 4

The role of research in policy formulation

The project on Policy and Inclusion in the learning and skills sector made a brief written submission to the Foster Review. Sir Andrew Foster also read and commented favourably upon our first major research article and report on the structure and operation of the new learning and skills sector in England. In June 2005, Frank Coffield and Ann Hodgson, two of the co-directors of the project, met Sir Andrew to discuss the implications of our research for the future role of FE, as part of the review. We were encouraged to see that some of the points made to him by our project appear in his report, particularly

3 The researchers (Richard Steer, David James, Roz Ivani and Gareth Parry were representing four projects that contributed to the following analysis:

  • The impact of policy on learning and inclusion in the learning and skills sector

  • Transforming learning cultures in further education colleges

  • Informal and formal literacies in further education

  • Widening participation in higher education: the place of higher education in FE

colleges (this project begins in 2006).

4 On 27th March, 2006 the government published its White Paper on FE: Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances (DfES, 2006). The recommendations of the Foster Review were accepted more or less in full.


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