Bums on seats

Are we changing lives or just searching for live bums to fill up seats? The college is a business and it seems capitalism trumps improving life chances. The college gets £1000s per student enrolled. The result? Unsurprisingly we’ll enrol anyone, on anything. We’ll enrole more students that we can physically fit in our classrooms. More students than we can stretch our funds to provide computers and books for. We’d probably enrole a goat if he showed up with some dodgy GCSE certificates he downloaded off the internet.

What if a student is enrolled on the course they are not academically capable of achieving on? It’s the teacher’s job to make sure they succeed. What if they enrolled on a course they are not particularly motivated to complete? Turn in 45 minutes late every morning, if they turn up at all. Don’t hand in any work on time. Do we kick them off the course? No. Teachers are judged on retention. We must keep them on our courses at all costs. What message does this send to students? You can toss it off and someone else will take responsibility for YOUR qualification and get you through. Preparation for the workplace?! Show me an employer that would enterain such a person for more than a day. Far from improvong a person’s life chances surely we are hindering them?

Another money making scheme the college have is to enrole all of our students on more than one course. We get funding for every course they are on so this is a super wheeze! Let’s make them do a series of short qualifications alongside their chosen subject. But wait! I hear you cry. Surely this is a good thing – they get more qualifications, their CV fills up, UCAS applications look sexier – it’s a win / win right? Well it could be. If they were given the option of taking short courses in subjects which complemented their main studies and were attractive to employers in their chosen field. For example my health & social care students could take First Aid, Drugs Awareness, Dementia Care (all short courses run by reputable exam boards). But no. They are made to do short courses in Food Safety and ‘Learning to Learn’. If you think these qualifications sound like a load of utter wank, you would be correct. An utter waste of a golden opportunity. Which actually sums up the whole ‘Learner Journey’ in FE in the UK. (If the term learner journey didn’t make you be a little bit sick in your mouth, you are not really paying attention).