So the '29' masked warriors of the F.E. Guild meet at Windsor Castle to enjoy some 'complex thinking'. The report in FE Weekly by Eleanor Radford is a depressing read for many involved in FE.
Not so much the venue, or even so much the cost at £8,265, equal to £285 per person, to include lunch, a three-course
dinner, drinks and accommodation. Although as LeeMarkDavies rightly points out " It could have utilised 21stC technology and had its meeting in a
public place (I understand many colleges have such places) with
sector-wide participation through the web. It could hit the ground
running as an engaged, teacher and learner focussed organisation."
By locating its headquarters in Coventry, a saving of £60,000 could have been made (Greg Wood) but again, cost is not a such consideration when you have £18 million to play with.
Wrankling as these things are to a cash strapped, financially challenged sector which appears more and more to be a pie in which everyone has a finger, they are not the main issues.
Most irritating of all are the secrecy surrounding the "29", the lost opportunity to hit the ground running and the chance to prove that they are not another 'me first, sector second' organisation.
Who are they? Are they fit to judge us? Do they represent every aspect of the Sector? What are they going to do for us? Our Learners?, Our partners in business, small and large? Our sub-contractors?
Why the secrecy?
The proposed FE Guild has got it wrong, very wrong.
The Guild had the opportunity to show they understood. They could have invited a range of those at the coal face; staff and learners, but yet again, it is only the 'Great and the Good'.
They have demonstrated as clearly as an indiscreet hand gesture that the proposed F.E. Guild is not about the welfare of Further Education at all. It looks like an 'old boys club' , repeating the same old mistakes, riding the same old roller-coaster, jumping from one sinking ship to another to preserve themselves.
If there is no transparency now, dare we hope for more in the future?
I doubt it; the proposed Guild is unlikely to last more than a couple of years before they all jump ship to the next set of initials and begin the work of "detailed confidential thinking on behalf of the sector.”
F.E. is 21 next year; the staff and learners have come of age. Focussed and hard working they achieve wonders with vey little.
Isn't it time our self-proclaimed leaders did the same?
With leadership that looks like this, it is no wonder that some Principals feel they can hang on in colleges for years and years, having never achieved more than a Grade 3, letting down learner after learner and frustrating the ambitions of staff to teach well and make a difference.