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Home > News > July 2007 > 27 July 2007

FE staff polled on key challenges for John Denham

Further education staff cite improvements to continuing professional development (CPD), better evaluation of learner success and the drive to self-regulation as their top priorities for the new secretary of state for innovation, universities and skills, John Denham, according to a new survey.

The Quality Improvement Agency for Lifelong Learning (QIA) polled delegates at its summer conferences last month with the aim of finding out their hopes for the sector and what they considered the most important and pressing challenges for the new secretary of state.

The survey found that there is optimism across further education particularly in relation to major forthcoming reforms. Almost half (41%) felt more confident about the continuing success of the system compared with 12 months ago, ahead of the introduction of the Framework for Excellence, developments in the 14-19 education reform agenda and the introduction of diplomas in the year to come.

Commenting on the findings and the recent changes to the machinery of government introduced by the prime minister, QIA chief executive Andrew Thomson said: "Creating two new departments out of the former Department for Education and Skills is a bold decision and clearly shows the central place that skills, higher and further education hold in the Prime Minister's vision for the future of the country.

"QIA will ensure that the new structure continues to enhance and support the further education system in meeting the learning needs of England . That's why we're looking forward to working with the new Secretary of State as we develop our existing programme of support as well as introducing four new services in 2007 Support for Excellence, the Excellence Gateway, High Quality Managers and the expanded Improvement Adviser Service."

Bill Rammell MP, minister of state for lifelong learning, further and higher education, welcomed the views of the conference delegates, saying: "Our sweeping further education reforms and creation of a system geared to meeting employer needs will help us realise Lord Leitch's vision for skills.

"Quality of teaching and learning is improving across the board along with success rates, thanks to the professionalism and hard work of both practitioners and leaders. Along with our record investment we now have in place a powerful support package for FE. The services offered through the QIA, such as its Improvement Advisers and the Excellence Gateway, can really help colleges and providers offer students and employers the quality learning and skills programmes they need."

The Quality Improvement Agency for Lifelong Learning (QIA) was established in April 2006. It was set up by the government to with aim of speeding up quality improvement, increasing participation and raising standards and achievement in further education.

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