The last twelve months have seen exciting changes for CIFE. We have morphed from our dependency and control of Government to stand alone as an independent Royal Charter for the Further Education sector. No longer are the number of members our major priority. Instead we have a renewed focus and have partnered with industry to undertake research for the benefit of the Further Education (FE) sector.
Like many organisations before us we were borne out of Government and thus received financial support of Government but we have now matured into a free standing institution that Government still wants for the FE sector. This seismic change to be free of Government, who have made it clear that they want the Charter to be retained for the sector, has brought learning along the way and a renewed focus on our core purpose of championing what is best for the sector
The 2018/19 academic year has seen us become sustainable for the long term and fully self-funding. This break in our reliance on Government funds means we truly are an independent voice for our sector, we can provide critical challenge and support to key sector stakeholders and we can fight for the needs of our members as the only sector representative body that has been granted Chartered Status with royal ascent.
Under Government the target was volume. Whilst our membership is growing quantity is not our target. The last 12 months have shown us that this isn’t what the CIFE is (or should be) about. The strength of our voice comes from the insightful conversations we continue to have across the FE landscape with, and on behalf of, our members. These conversations (and subsequent actions) are about quality and not quantity and this is the renewed focus of the institution.
Our future is exciting. For example, we have gained sponsorship from industry, from a major construction company, who like many employers recognise and understand the value of gaining Chartered Status. This has enabled us to conduct detailed research into the skills needs and gaps of the future construction sector workforce. We anticipate this will be launched in early 2020 in the House of Lords. Research is an important aspect of what we intend to do and I’m pleased that we are also undertaking research for FETL on leadership.
We will continue to attract aspirational and high performing like-minded organisations and we will build upon our new found agility and freedoms in being a self-sustaining organisation that is accountable to one group – our members.
At the time of writing this blog we have had enquiries from one specific FE publication on remuneration received by The Rt Hon Sir John Hayes CBE MP on work he undertook in 2018 as an advisor to the CIFE. Clearly Sir John has been a central driver in getting our Institution to where it is today. However his recent work as an advisor with CIFE was approved and declared in line with all parliamentary transparency obligations https://bit.ly/36j9myn
Finally, as you will all know Dr Ann Limb CBE DL FCGLI FCFE was awarded an honorary fellowship for the CIFE at our last awards ceremony. We were thrilled that Dr Limb accepted the fellowship and felt that her speech in receiving the accolade described who we are and what we can achieve far better than we ever could. We have copied extracts of this speech below;
I urge you all to keep your foot hard on the accelerator, continually pressing the case for investment in and recognition of all that FE colleges do nationally, regionally and crucially in their local communities – where the impact made by FE students, the role played by FE teachers and staff, is usually most keenly experienced, quantified and manifested.
I am privileged to become part of a small group of people who have received this Fellowship award including the former skills minister Sir John Hayes. The CIFE was Sir John’s brainchild; he was instrumental in ensuring it received its Royal Charter thereby giving an opportunity to the sector for high-achieving FE providers to earn the status they deserve and for FE as a sector to receive the recognition it deserves.
Chartered status is a clear mark of excellence which shows potential new students and employers that an education provider is a centre of supreme quality in the areas of governance, leadership, professional development, teaching practice and community impact and critically, gives members the opportunity to share and develop best practice for their organisations and act as exemplars for the sector.
It is my own view that through a Royal Chartered body, Further Education can influence and raise the professional status of the whole sector. It also captures for future generations the unique spirit that is FE. I say this as Chair of the Scouts, now 110 years old, and as a Fellow and Vice Chair of City and Guilds of London Institute, 140 years old this year – both organisations created and governed by Royal Charter and which are now woven into the fabric of society in the 21st century.
So, as we are now free from any Government subsidy, the Chartered Institution must continue to raise and influence our sectors professional status, those who achieve CIFE membership will continue to show all related stakeholders that CIFE membership denotes supreme quality in the areas of governance, leadership, professional development, teaching practice and community impact and will act as a network for member organisations to share and develop best practice.
We are proud of what we have collectively achieved and of our transformation and what we have now become. We are looking forward to working with members, influencers, stakeholders and other related parties to ensure that the Chartered Institution for Further Education continues to be the influential body that represents our sector and champions our significant impact with the same passion, energy and commitment shown each day locally by our exceptional members.
The Chartered Institution for Further Education.