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Professor Ann Hodgson joins panel discussion on London Further Education Area Review

12 April 2017

On Thursday 6 April, Professor Ann Hodgson, Co-Director of the IOE’s Centre for Post-14 Education and Work, participated in a panel discussion on the recently completed Further Education Area Review (AR) for London.

Hosted by the London Assembly’s Education Panel, the public discussion explored how the London Further Education (FE) Area Review (AR) can help to create a more stable, financially resilient, and high-performing sector. The meeting also assessed how the Review fits into the Mayor of London’s wider strategy on skills and devolution.

Ann Hodgson

As one of four panellists, Professor Hodgson drew on her own research on the London FE AR process and also commented on the future shape of the FE sector in London.

Professor Hodgson noted that some of the research participants found the pace of the AR too fast and overly focused on the financial viability of colleges, with not enough time to discuss a number of important issues, such as the curriculum, SEND, vocational specialisation, ESOL and general education. The majority of participants, however, saw the process in a positive light. The AR has in many instances helped colleges to form strong relationships with their local authorities, which has led to fruitful discussions around the current and future needs of employers in local and sub-regional areas.

“We must build strongly collaborative local or sub-regional learning and skills systems and clear progression pathways in localities, sub-regions, and pan-London, so that potential learners can see how they can transition from education to further or higher education and working life and employers have confidence in the system”, explains Professor Hodgson. “This will mean less competition between post-16 providers and more collaboration around the building of local or sub-regional learning and skills systems between the different partners.”

The research that Professor Hodgson has undertaken with Professor Ken Spours, David Smith, and Paul Grainger is now in its second year. Its continuation into a third year will allow it to monitor the impact of the structural changes which have taken or are taking place at both a sub-regional and pan-London level.

Speaking of the Mayor’s role in the process, Professor Hodgson says: “In practical terms, it will be for the Mayor’s new Skills for Londoners Taskforce and Advisory Group to monitor and support the implementation process and to keep a watchful eye on what the outcomes mean for London learners and employers in the future, particularly in the light of national policy changes, such as the Apprenticeship Levy and Tech Levels, as well as Brexit.”

Professor Hodgson has been appointed to the Mayor’s Advisory Group and was also on a recent panel organised by the National Union of Students and Vince Cable.

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