Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Meeting with Higher Futures

A very positive meeting this morning with Jackie Powell and Mike Bruce from Higher Futures, the lifelong learning network for South Yorkshire. The LLN is a way of bringing together FE colleges with HEIs on a regional basis, and ensuring that there are clear progression pathways available to students from the FE sector. Clearly, there is a job of work to be done here; both HE and FE institutions need to learn more about each other, and what each can bring to the learner's journey, for local students to be given a high-quality service. Vocational learners often bring rich and diverse skill sets to higher education, and often bring a passion for and knowledge of their subject that A-levels, structurally, can't mirror. So Jackie, who co-ordinates the Information, Advice, and Guidance (IAG) aspect of Higher Futures, and Mike, based in this institution, are working hard to make sure this message gets out, and that both sectors are working effectively together.

They were, for obvious reasons, excited about the potential for TASH to bridge this gap between FE and HE learning. They recognised how it might be used as part of an IAG route within their work, and how it could aid both staff and students in understanding what was expected from university study. As much as anything else, it might help develop the confidence of FE students in recognising the skills they can offer HE, particularly important given how much current language and thinking in HEIs is oriented towards students with A-levels rather than other forms of qualification. Alongside all this good feeling, the practical outcome of this meeting was that IAG staff in Higher Futures institutions will have a chance to play with the draft TASH resource, once it is ready after Easter in a testable form. This is clearly good for us, as we get feedback on the resource from practitioners in one of its application contexts; and good for the IAG staff, as they see how the resource will work, can contribute to its ongoing design, and begin to think about embedding and promoting it in FE colleges.

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