£7bn 363 colleges 4.2m learners 263,257 staff

Never knowingly underperformed

In the 1800s, my family worked in the New Lanark cotton mills which were owned and managed by enlightened men who combined a sharp eye for productivity and the bottom line with concern for the social well-being of their workers, and society as a whole. This may help explain why I feel at ease with effective and entrepreneurial social enterprises – such as further education.

There seems to be a strand of political thinking which is exploring how a sense of entrepreneurship and ownership can be brought into the public services – particularly with the NHS: “employee partnerships” running NHS organisations “nurses and doctors” involved in governing; turning hospitals into “employee owned trusts”
There is an attractive John Lewis style model here for a public service facing years of relative austerity, and the politicians would be looking to a culture of co-ownership which would boost productivity – doing more for less.

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January 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

What Colleges need to do about the Power Gap

People feel powerless when they have little control over the direction of their own lives, or the power to shape the society in which they live – and we see this in how people talk about bankers or MPs expenses. We feel powerless when we compare our own position to bankers who appear to have the power to award themselves high pay, to burden us all with the huge cost of rescuing them when they fail, and to reward themselves while we bear the consequences of financial deficits – and we have no control or voice to shape events.

But the issue is not really about the power of the rich and lucky – it is really about boosting the powerfulness, the resourcefulness, of most people. All three parties now seem to “get it” and talk of “giving power away”, of empowering people, of devolving decision making to a local people.

And if education is to play its part in increasing power, then we need to have a good mental map of where the powerful and the powerless are, and what we need to do to increase the power of young people and adults.

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January 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment