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Post-16 and FE in shorthand

The world of education is full of acronyms and abbreviations. We know that this is as much a branding exercise as it is saving on ink, and nowhere is this more apparent than at national conferences.

During the Movember month I attended two national conferences, both with a focus on Post-16 markets (not sure if the two are counter-intuitive, but there weren’t many handle-bar moustaches on show). The first was FAB, the Federation of Awarding Bodies (except we are now all ‘Awarding Organisations, or AOs’, but FAO doesn’t have the same ring as the Thunderbirds FAB) and the second was AoC, the Association of Colleges. Both events have been running for a number of years and tend to draw the great and the good from the world of Awarding Organisations and FE. At the FAB event it is always helpful to find out what other AOs, your competitors and potential partners are up to!

Shooting over to the ICC in Birmingham I attended the AoC and its multiple Q&A sessions with policy makers. One such was the new man in the hot seat for skills, Matthew Hancock, Skills Minister (MHSM?) who assured us that he is the man for FE because, "School sixth form wasn’t there for me and FE came to my rescue”.  In the main hall there were huge numbers of exhibitors – it seemed like a mini version of the skills show. Marketing at the AoC conference is always high profile – I guess the FE world is a huge business machine, but you do get a sense that teaching and learning, development of employability skills and other such educational concerns get somewhat left behind. Perhaps the latest Post-16 OfSted framework might help change this.

One particular marketing campaign that leapt out at me was the Gazelle Group (note my clever use of imagery there), a group of 20 colleges focused on enterprise and skills.  I’m interested to learn about their progress and get closer to what they do; in the new-era of FE, with changes to funding and curriculum, our teaching and learning resources, especially those geared towards accrediting employability skills, could provide an attractive package.

And if you happen to be going to the next FAB and AoC conferences, seek me out and have a chat about some new products available shortly, appropriately abbreviated to Ei and ESD – click here to discover the root of this acronym.

Dean O’Donoghue,
ASDAN National Development Co-ordinator (Post-16, Skills and Work-Related Learning)



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