Why 2024 will be an important year in education
Firstly, I’d like to wish a very Happy New Year to you all – we look forward to working with you in the coming year. As we look ahead to 2024, there are still many unknowns about what’s to come – as well as lots of potential opportunities to work collaboratively and create positive change.
Despite these unknowns, what I do know is that NCFE will continue to provide certainty through the uncertainty. With this academic year marking our 175th anniversary – a milestone I still struggle to fully comprehend – our longevity is not often seen in our fast-paced world.
Since 1848, NCFE has been committed to ensuring no learner is left behind. While this core purpose will never change, we’ve continued to push the boundaries of a traditional awarding organisation to ensure everyone, particularly those consistently underserved, have the opportunities, means, and motivation to reach their full potential over a lifetime of learning.
It’s through this continuity, deep expertise, insight, and commitment that we can continue to ask the right questions for the sector and for millions of learners across the UK. For example, over the last 12 months we’ve investigated key workforce challenges in FE, social care, early years, and digital through our Spotlight Reports – bringing together data and leading experts to share their firsthand experiences.
We also released a landmark paper, alongside The Edge Foundation and Corndel, looking at the future of further education. The Transforming Skills report puts forward five key recommendations that will ensure we have a system fit for the future – from embedding uniquely human skills to embracing technology and reimagining a more fair and inclusive system of assessment.
With 2024 being an election year, there are questions around what the result will mean for current FE policy direction; thinking about the qualification reforms or how the proposed Advanced British Standard might complement the existing qualification landscape.
NCFE has been stepping up to the challenges and opportunities around this qualification reform and supporting the sector through this period of change. We’ve been offering specialist consultations to help providers and created a free comprehensive guide into the review of post-16 qualifications in England.
Following a highly successful three-year pilot, our partnership with WorldSkills UK on the Centre of Excellence has moved into a second phase that enables all FE Colleges, independent training providers and Higher Educational Institutions throughout the UK to benefit from world-class professional development.
We recently marked the two-year anniversary of our Assessment Innovation Fund, which has now seen £1 million invested across 12 unique pilots investigating the use of new methods and tools, such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. With the next funding window set to launch in the coming weeks, and our new partnership with UFI VocTech, it continues to push boundaries and go from strength to strength.
NCFE has also expanded its accreditation services, to help employers with bespoke in-house training and qualifications. Upskilling the workforce has benefits for both the organisation and individuals, and we’ve already seen successful partnerships with Northumbria Police, Stockport Housing, and international charity Save the Children.
This is in addition to our continued focus on our core activities as an awarding and end-point assessment organisation. Our number one priority is ensuring learners have the best experience possible so they can achieve their qualification and progress in their lives. To this end, we’re learning lessons from challenges and making continuous improvements to the way we operate, driving up quality and ensuring we all work together seamlessly in the year ahead.
2024 is shaping up to be an important year for the education sector – and we’re keen to continue championing the causes that matter to colleges, independent training providers, schools and learners, presenting a united and collective voice around the key issues we face.
Together, we know that we’re better equipped for what will undoubtedly be a period of rapid change, with many challenges and opportunities. And that’s why we’ll continue to collaborate, championing the needs of learners and helping to create truly transformational learning experiences for all.
I wish everyone a happy and successful New Year and look forward to continuing to drive forward the incredible achievements of our sector.
Pictured: David Gallagher, CEO of NCFE
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