Leadership and management

Leadership & management in education is receiving bad press recently, the latest related to under performing schools, but clearly the increased number of learning providers in the FE & Skills sector ‘requiring improvement’ may also have something to do with senior managers either not best equipped to ‘manage’ but have ‘got the job’ anyway. Or simply assume that the rapidly changing world affecting every aspect of human life, doesn’t relate to their organisation. I am of course talking about the use of so called technology. The technology that learners, employers, parents, grandparents take as normal and businesses strive to find new ways of using to improve their products and services to be competitive or simply stay in business.

Of course it’s not all about new technology, but for heaven’s sake, some of the practices that many providers are still using, especially in Work Based Learning are just not good enough to meet the needs of the those they are funded to provide for. When they could do so much better if only they managed their ‘business’ to meet the ever changing needs of their ‘customers’ and not just deliver teaching, learning and assessment as they always have at any price.

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Nick Linford

This week I watched an excellent Webinar by Nick Linford on what a Conservative government means for FE and Skills and shared an excellent article by David Thodey about leadership and management in a digital driven age.  I also met recently with management of two learning providers, both with differing requests for advice, who appeared to have been watching or reading something completely different to me. Well not completely, as each had a goal that was well intentioned and if carried out will make them better placed to manage their learners.  But in one case, the arguments against the options put forward raised the same old something for nothing argument, despite demonstrating that which I had proposed was half the ‘actual’ cost of their existing systems and twice as efficient. The other provider had accepted the recommendation made but appear to be making a commitment to software they have barely seen, without an appropriate strategy to implement what will be a complex change. I expect both will succeed in their objectives, but possibly not anytime soon.

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David Thodey

In the matter of funding, the Nick Linford webinar highlighted government plans to increase Apprenticeships and Traineeships, funded in part by ‘slashing’ classroom FE funding, which to my mind is an obvious need to put into place, technology for on-line Teaching, Learning,  Assessment, tracking performance and simply communicating. The benefits or otherwise of which have featured in these and other pages continuously and a great many learning providers in the sector are ‘managing’ extremely well. In fact, as well as any successful business is run, be it a ‘FTSE 100’ company or a flower shop. With that in mind, I recommend the aforementioned article by David Thodey and have extracted these salient points as food for thought:

The digital revolution is all the time creating so much that is new – networked citizens, new paradigms for value creation, new ways to solve problems and learn, work, govern and lead.

The extraordinary growth, both in the capability of new technologies and the creativity of new business models, are at the heart of much of it.

The world is changing quickly and leadership has to change too. The old truism that we can’t presume what we did in the past will work in the future has never been more appropriate.

David Thodey, Former CEO & Executive Director, Telstra

There are many ways for the FE & Skills sector to seek out and adopt best practice in the use of technology to meet the challenges and in my opinion, opportunities that are really just around the corner. But in recent weeks, I have seen enough examples to suggest that old habits really do die hard and it may take some a little longer than others to overcome them.

Colin Gallacher
Learning technology Adviser

See also:

Sir Michael Wilshaw backs academy takeovers of coasting schools
Nicky Morgan: Coasting schools ‘face intervention’

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