Research is being promoted at The Bedford College Group into how Further Education can help students flourish, said Ian Pryce CBE at the inaugural annual lecture of the Learning and Skills Research Network (LSRN).
Staged at the theatre at the Bedford College riverside campus, the event included speakers from HE and FE who were demonstrating how professional style research could empower colleges to enhance their reputation in education and improve outcomes for students.
The Group embarked on a research programme which is now setting the pace for other colleges across the UK who are recognising that FE has to speak up strongly, with evidence about the benefits of education outside of schools for those aged over 16.
How FE can help the 'whole person' to flourish
The address was Ian’s first and last for LRSN, as he is retiring in the New Year after more than 25 years as CEO. His parting challenge to colleagues was to ask questions about how FE could help the ‘whole person flourish’ – not just meet the immediate demands of employers for a particular skill set.
‘What’s it all about? FE’ – is a musical reference by the guitar-playing management accountant who said:
“I’m not a researcher but I am in awe of research and appreciate what it can teach us all.
“One question I would put is: Should FE be just about economics and GDP in terms of skills that employers need, or should we be supporting human beings to flourish?
“Also we have a ‘just in time’ attitude, that a person is only educated up to the point which the job requires. Why can’t they be better educated? Human beings out-last most companies in this country, which are actually very small, so why not encourage their personal, life-long goals.
“We should think BIG, there are 1.7 Million students in the sector so there is a lot of information to be gathered.”
Vice Principal Alex Mortby welcomed guests to the event hosted on November 22nd. He pointed to a wide range pioneering work conducted by his team into FE research and how the findings were now being shared and embedded in teaching practices within the Group.
Vice Principal Nina Sharp focussed on effective teaching practices adopted by the Group including how they piloted the innovative Century Tec systems for teaching maths, won a grant to continue project for three years – the result of which will be ready for analysis soon and will be share across the region.