At last week's LSIS Strategy Day the Council and Board heard from Sue Pember (BIS), Geoff Russell (soon to retired CEO of Skills Funding Agency) and Lorna Fitzjohn (Ofsted). There was a lot their short presentation had in common and I'd sum it up as 'Freedom with results - with speedy intervention if no results'. The FE sector is being given more freedom but interventions around concerns will quickly lead to notice of withdrawal of funding.
The meeting came shortly after the renewed 'satisfactory is not satisfactory' debate as Michael Wilshaw proposes 'Improvement Required' as its replacement. Lorna Fitzjohn drew out some points from the 2011 Chief Inspector's report. In particular the number of serially 'satisfactory' providers. The new expression may be intended to get governing bodies to act. She reported that 'satisfactory providers' often have very poor action planning, ill-informed governance, principals who don't know enough about learners. Again she urged self critical self assessment designed for the provider, showing they know their own work and are taking improvement actions.
There were no inspections in the year reported where teaching and learning was outstanding and this was critical to why so few providers were outstanding overall. Sue Pember had also commented on governance saying: "The new role of governance is crucial. We need governors who can really govern and manage performance of institutions."
Effectively, between them, the emphasis could be summed up as Teaching, Learning & Assessment (TL&A) combined with Leadership, Management & Governance (LM&G) - all within the 'new freedoms'.
It's a big turn around from the last 10-15 years of complaince and centralised planning. They seemed to be asking whether providers were ready. Lorna said that in 'satisfactory' providers, when compared to School Heads, FE leaders are 'managerial pre-occupied - not thinking enough about teaching and learners'.
Lorna's presentation is available here: Download Presentation - OFSTED