Fellowships and projects



What is it?

The FETL Fellowship is a structured programme that allows current FE and skills and connected others in the UK to pursue a research interest that benefits thinking in the further education sector.

There will be an opportunity to interact with other fellows, FETL trustees and colleagues at IoE, UCL London.

We are not accepting applications for Fellowships at the present time.

Who is it for?

For enquiring, bold, creative individuals who are passionate about further education, training and skills learning.

  • You should have a burning desire to explore and write about an aspect of the leadership of thinking that will ultimately benefit learners.
  • You should be working with a current provider of further education, training and skills in the UK.
  • You should have a background in leadership at some level.
  • You should share our vision of an FE and skills sector that is valued and respected for innovation, long-term planning and sharing knowledge.
  • You should have a sponsoring organisation.
  • You should be interested in helping disseminate the findings of your work. We are interested in the outcomes of your research and the difference it will make to further education, training and skills in the UK.
  • You should be interested in helping disseminate the findings of your work. We are interested in the outcomes of your research and the difference it will make to further education, training and skills in the UK.


FETL encourages the leadership of thinking across and about the FE and skills system in the UK. For us, this means being able to focus beyond the immediate horizon, and to envisage the challenges to, and opportunities for, the sector of the future. The themes of your work should come from your own preoccupation about the sector as a basis for discussion with the FETL Funding Committee.

  • How is it structured?

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    That is very much up to you! FETL does not want to create structures that get in the way of good research. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the FETL fellowships.

    However, we will help you ensure that you have an academic support programme that is right for you. This will mean taking time away from work, on a full- or part-time basis, to focus on your research. You can work from home or make other arrangements. There will be a requirement to attend some sessions at the Institute of Education in London.

  • How will I be supported?

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    FETL fellowships are supported by our academic partner, UCL Institute of Education.

    At the beginning of the fellowship you will complete a self-assessment of your academic research skills, so that UCL Institute of Education can tailor their support to you. You will also attend an orientation day at UCL Institute of Education as part of the professional networking and research support they provide. This support also includes access to library materials and a series of five full-day development sessions during the period of the fellowship, as well as additional online support from experienced research colleagues.

    Project management support and guidance is provided by FETL.

  • How will I be funded?

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    FETL will fund your sponsoring organisation. The funding is intended to cover costs associated with the research. In considering your request, you may want to take into account the time to be spent on the research, travelling costs and any additional expenditure required to complete the project. The funding is generally paid in two parts, at the start of the fellowship and at the end.

  • When do I start and how long will it take?

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    Once a fellowship has been awarded, FETL would be ready to fund you to start immediately. However, we realise that you will have existing commitments. We would generally expect a fellowship to start within a few months of an award. Please see the guidance notes for each funding round for more information.

    The optimal period for a fellowship is between six and nine months. This will allow you time to fully immerse yourself in the subject and to write up your thoughts.

Current Fellows:

Carol Thompson, University of Bedfordshire

Carol Thompson, University of Bedfordshire

Finding the Glass Slipper - an exploration of the impact of leadership thinking. The focus of this Fellowship is to... Read full biography

Dragana Ramsden, Morley College

Dragana Ramsden, Morley College

Developing a new vision of a collaborative partnership between Adult Community Learning and Mental Health primary care.... Read full biography

Current projects

Employers in the driving seat? New thinking for FE leadership

A major new 12 month research project called Employers in the driving seat? New thinking for FE leadership has been launched by AELP – the Association of Employment and Learning Providers supported by FETL, the Further Education Trust for Leadership.

Matt Hamnett & Associates

This project will explore different perspectives on, and approaches to, the transformation of further education institutions – particularly those which require urgent action to address poor performance and other organisational challenges.

A 21st Century Skills System: a cross-country comparison between Scotland and Northern Ireland

Building upon earlier work looking at the future challenges facing Scotland’s skills system, this project led by IPPR will consider how best to respond to these challenges and a skills system ready for the 21st Century in Northern Ireland and Scotland can be created, delivering innovation in our economy and our society.

Unleashing Leadership: Exploring the hidden assumptions that determine and limit leadership practice to unleash new leadership across the FE System

The key aim of this research is to explore the underlying leadership assumptions, perceptions and aspirations in the FE system. Based on a framework of four discourses of leadership derived from published academic research of Dr Simon Western, it aims to discover the biases and preferences that shape how leadership is thought about, developed and practised in FE. The research findings will be... Read more