The Changing Face of Further Education: Lifelong Learning, Inclusion and Community Values in Further Education

The Changing Face of Further Education: Lifelong Learning, Inclusion and Community Values in Further Education

The Changing Face of Further Education: Lifelong Learning, Inclusion and Community Values in Further Education

The Changing Face of Further Education: Lifelong Learning, Inclusion and Community Values in Further Education

Synopsis

The authors set current policy and practice concerns against a backdrop of community education and employs case studies to chart the developments and changes that have taken place in further education.

Excerpt

Until the incorporation of further education (FE) institutions in April 1993 it was common to see references to the sector in terms of its 'Cinderella' or 'Invisible Man' status. In the years since then, the colleges have witnessed an impressive increase in student numbers at all levels, the implementation of new curricula and learning strategies, the expansion of provision in new areas in the 16-19, vocational education and training (VET), adult and higher education (HE) spheres; and the sector is now central to the current New Labour lifelong learning policies aimed at enhancing economic competitiveness and workforce skills, widening participation and challenging social exclusion at all levels of the education system.

However, the fact that Helena Kennedy in her highly influential 1997 policy report on widening participation was still able to trot out the old chestnut definition of the scope of FE activities in terms of 'everything that does not happen in schools or universities' (Kennedy, 1997, p. 1) demonstrates forcefully that clarity of purpose and definition of strategic mission for the sector have yet to be achieved. As Lucas (2001) commented recently, the sector is still very much 'in the shadows' (p. 38) in terms of national planning. Thus, in spite of the official government statement that the 'further education sector is at the heart of the revival in learning that we are witnessing in this country' (DfEE, 2000a, para. 95), Green and Lucas (1999b) - acknowledging the improvements and important developments in the sector since incorporation in 1993 - still wanted to conclude their investigation of recent FE trends by observing that:

the sector is still very fragmented despite the centralised national system of funding - all in all it is still a long way from the promised national sector… In the effort to maximise funding, compete with other providers and survive the first five years of 'efficiency savings',

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