The Government has published a white paper on the future of further education today. It runs to 77 pages and sets out changes that the Government wants to make to further education and skills training. Now that it has been published (available to read in full here), the Department for Education will consult with the sector and others, with a view to implementing the things in it. We will take part in these consultations and look forward to helping shape our sector’s future.

Commenting on the white paper, Roy O’Shaughnessy, Chief Executive of the Capital City College Group said:

“The long-awaited further education white paper is finally with us. Its publication is a welcome acknowledgement of the vital role that the nation’s further education colleges, the 2.2 million people who study in them and the 55,000 staff who educate them, must play in the UK’s post-Brexit role in the world and our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“According to the CBI, our changing economy – fuelled by digitisation and automation – will mean that millions of us will need new skills over the next 10 years. Colleges are ready to provide these skills and we look forward to working with the government and others to help shape the future and turn the white paper into reality.

“We have students of all ages and all skill levels learning in our colleges, so it’s particularly welcome that the Government has restated their ambition to enable everyone to learn flexibly throughout their lives, as well as boosting the profile and reputation of further education. Like all colleges, we already work with local employers and other partners across London to provide valuable experiences and opportunities to our students in addition to their studies, and it’s pleasing that the white paper includes plans to further develop this work, through Local Skills Improvement Plans.

“We also welcome the desire to consult on simplifying the complex system for funding further education and to give providers more autonomy, and we’re delighted that the white paper acknowledges the key role that our teachers play, and that it wants to improve retention and encourage fresh talent into the sector. However, with college staff still paid considerably less than their fellow teachers in schools and universities, any discussion about recruitment and retention must also address the issue of staff pay and the viability of colleges.”

Two students say their peers’ voice is “more important than ever” during the COVID pandemic after joining the board of Capital City College Group (CCCG).

Luke Wilmoth and Precious Agyei Boateng will provide a student perspective to support the strategic planning for the Group, which has around 29,000 students and apprentices

CCCG comprises City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College, the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) and apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training.

Precious, 18, from Enfield, is completing a Health and Social Care diploma at CONEL having been educated at schools in Italy and Ghana before moving to the UK last year.

She said: “I have a clear vision for the college and looking forward to collaborating with the other board members for the benefit of the students. It is important that the students have a voice and the board listens to every concern as they are at the centre of everything they do.”

Luke, 17, from Waltham Forest, is studying A Levels in Geography, Physics and Politics at City and Islington College and has aspirations to become an airline pilot or work in politics.

A London Youth Assembly member, he is also Youth Mayor for Waltham Forest and has shared his views on issues affecting young people through Waltham Forest Young Advisors.

Luke has also undertaken voluntary work for charities including the LVE Charitable Foundation and Royal British Legion.

He said: “It will be great experience to be able to contribute as a board member. The coronavirus pandemic, and the changes made to education nationally, mean it is now more important than ever to include a student voice at a strategic level.

“I hope to make a positive contribution to the leadership and direction of the Group, its three colleges and CCCT. It will be both a rewarding and educating experience discovering how governing bodies for education groups work and helping influence key decisions.”

As well as having student board members, students across the Group have other ways to make their voices heard. Each CCCG college also has a students’ union and class representatives to enable them to provide feedback on all aspects of college life. Surveys are also undertaken to give insight.

Graham Drummond, Director of Governance, said: “We are delighted to welcome Luke and Precious to the CCCG board. They were both excellent candidates and we look forward to them providing and contributing to discussions to help inform our strategic decisions.

“Their opinions and insights will be valued and listened to. They will play an important part in helping to develop and shape the content of our next three-year plan, which is due to be approved in March.”