Simmons, Robin (2013) 'Sorry to have kept you waiting so long, Mr Macfarlane': Further education after the Coalition. In: Education Beyond the Coalition: reclaiming the agenda. Radicaled Books, London, pp. 82-105. ISBN 978-0-9575538-2-8

This chapter focuses on the further education (FE) sector in England. Initially it gives an overview of the ‘condition’ of the FE sector and summarises of some of the main characteristics of the current Government’s approach to further education. The chapter locates the Coalition’s position on FE, and some of the key initiatives associated with this stance, within a broader social, economic and cultural context, before turning to the future of further education. Whilst I acknowledge that much will need to be done across all sectors of education after the Coalition loses power, it is argued that no one part of the education system – if indeed system is the correct term – operates in isolation; and that FE’s role and remit is strongly influenced, not only by the nature of the labour market and the economy more broadly, but by the relative status and position of universities, schools and other providers of education and training. Drawing on the ideals of the comprehensive movement and some of the recommendations made in the first draft of the often forgotten Macfarlane Report, the remainder of the chapter provides a vision for further education after the coalition by arguing that FE needs to be repositioned at the heart of a coherent system of tertiary education and play a key role in integrating academic with vocational learning. It finishes by offering a critical overview of the far-reaching cultural, structural and curricular changes that would be required, not only within the further education sector, but across other parts of the compulsory and post-compulsory education system, in order to enable this.


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