'FE Colleges Have the Power to Help Build a Brave New World' Simon Pirotte, CEO and Principal of Bridgend College, Explains How the Further Education Sector Has a Crucial Role to Play in Promoting Both Economic Growth and Social Justice

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), October 10, 2019 | Go to article overview

'FE Colleges Have the Power to Help Build a Brave New World' Simon Pirotte, CEO and Principal of Bridgend College, Explains How the Further Education Sector Has a Crucial Role to Play in Promoting Both Economic Growth and Social Justice


THERE'S a quotation by Nelson Mandela on the wall of Bridgend College's boardroom. It readss: "Education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world."

As we approach October 31, we all wonder what this Brexit turmoil means for education. For example, the future of Erasmus funding, which enables the sharing of ideas between students and educationalists across Europe, is uncertain.

Now, more than ever, we need to build bridges rather than build walls, if we are to develop outward-looking global citizens who are able to thrive in a competitive, modern world.

Further education (FE) colleges are ready to play their part to support our communities and the economy.

During my recent involvement with colleges across the four home nations as part of the Commission of the College of the Future, I discovered that many of the challenges we face across the UK are similar - climate change, Brexit uncertainty, automation, an ageing population, curriculum reform, mental health, social justice... the list goes on.

But FE is now gaining the recognition it deserves as a positive catalyst for inclusive economic growth and its ability to nurture a more tolerant society.

Even a departing Whitehall Conservative Prime Minister commented that FE colleges have been "overlooked, undervalued and underfunded". And an incoming one claimed that we "need to do more to fund our amazing colleges, which have all too often been forgotten". And the Chancellor's additional PS400m to colleges comes with the endorsement that "it was an FE college that equipped me with the qualifications needed to pursue my ambitions".

Yes, FE is in the spotlight. Here in Wales, our Education Minister Kirsty Williams has laid out plans to bring post-16 education closer together under a new post-16 body. This will give focus to all aspects of post-16 education.

Here at Bridgend College, we have plans, not just to survive these turbulent times but to thrive for the benefit of our communities. …

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'FE Colleges Have the Power to Help Build a Brave New World' Simon Pirotte, CEO and Principal of Bridgend College, Explains How the Further Education Sector Has a Crucial Role to Play in Promoting Both Economic Growth and Social Justice
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