FETL worked closely with the Institute of Education, University College London, to create the UK’s first-ever university chair in further education leadership, with the aim of advancing the strategic development of thought leadership in FE and skills and fostering research that challenges policy and practice with a view to improving it.
Martin Doel, who had served as Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges since 2008, became the first holder of the professorship in April 2016. Professor Doel brought his significant experience and policy knowledge to bear in the generation of fresh, new thinking about the sector.
His two main areas of focus were the problem of defining the distinctive contribution of further education to society and the economy; and ‘the prospect of redressing the imbalance in our education systems between academic study and the development of technical and professional skills’. The first of these was the subject of his first public lecture in February 2018.
Professor Doel convened a series of roundtables for leaders in FE and skills to ‘introduce wider perspectives and concepts from academic fields outside the sector that can be the inspiration for fresh thinking within it’. The three roundtables, focused on collaboration versus competition, place, and defining technical education, took place between September 2018 and March 2019. They gathered some of the key figures and most influential thinkers about further education in the UK.
For each roundtable, Professor Doel prepared a short paper to stimulate debate. These were published by FETL in July 2019 as Rethinking Place and Purpose: Provocations on the Future of FE.
Some of Professor Doel’s talks and writings can be found below.