For further information on events FETL has arranged or to arrange speaking engagements please contact You can also find out more by following us on Twitter @fetforl

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Informing the Future: The Leadership of Thinking
29th April 2021
Independent Commission on the College of the Future launch event
28th October 2020

Join the Independent Commission on the College of the Future on Wednesday 28 October, 3pm-4pm, to discuss their UK-wide final report, setting out recommendations for across the four nations.

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DEBATE: Should FE colleges lose autonomy to make course choices?
07th October 2020

On 17 January 2020, FE Week was first to report that the government was working on new legislation in the form of an FE Bill, which “could mean colleges lose ultimate power over deciding which courses are run.”

Four days later, on the 21 January,  Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, gave a speech in which she repeat criticisms she’d first made in November 2018. Her argument is that some colleges choose to run courses for financial gain, such as in performing arts, despite the lack of opportunity for progression. This, she said, is giving students “false hope” by putting them on courses where there are slim job prospects.

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, responded directly to the concern and said on the same day at his annual conference: “it does happen and we just need to face up to it.”

But the government still refuse to comment on what will be in the FE Bill or related White Paper (which we understand publication of keeps being put back), beyond saying it will be “revolutionary”.

In September, Tom Richmond, a former adviser to the skills minister and founder of the think tank EDSK, proposed a solution in a report funded by FETL.

Colleges should be stripped of autonomy to choose course offer, in favour of new regional FE directors arranging provision “in line with local social and economic needs, as well as eliminating duplication of courses and promoting specialisation among nearby colleges.

“While day-to-day operations would remain the responsibility of college principals, the FE director will have the final say on important strategic decisions such as the courses and specialisms that each college offers.”, says Richmond.

Could new regional FE directors dictating college specialisms and the courses they run be an improvement on the current system? Richmond, writing for FE Week, believes so, and the resulting “loss of some autonomy for individual colleges is a step in the right direction”.

Join this important debate online at 12pm on Wednesday 7 October , chaired by FETL president Dame Ruth Silver. Tom Richmond will be arguing in favour of the motion for the loss of some college autonomy and Nick Linford, editor of FE Week, will be arguing against.

Register to watch live and be sent a recording of the session.

Click here to book

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FE Week Briefing Series, Partnered by FETL
11th May 2020

A free webcast update series from FE Week, in partnership with FETL, to provide an overview of the latest legislation and guidance from the Government regarding the response to the Coronavirus pandemic, for the FE & skills sector.

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New Horizons in FE: How technology will change learning
17th July 2019

The impact of technology on the further education (FE) sector has been a recurring theme in all FETL research publications, with contributions from Sir Michael Barber, Bob Harrison, and Paul McKean discussing the implications of AI and digital skills gaps in the sector directly.

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Reflective Learning: Listening Post
19th June 2019

Colleagues in the FE sector are cordially invited to join a series of confidential discussions, called Listening Posts, sponsored by FETL

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Spring Symposium
23rd May 2019

Connecting the Dots: the Role of Further Education in Local Priorities and National Challenges


  • Karin Smyth MP, Bristol South
  • Emma Jarnman, Vice Principal, City of Bristol College
  • Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council
  • Smita Jamdar, Partner at Shakespeare Martineau
  • Prof Ewart Keep, Director of the Centre for Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE), Oxford University

Dame Ruth Silver, President of Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL), invites you to join colleagues working in the FE system and local government at the FETL Spring Symposium.

This Symposium, held in Bristol Parkway, will consider the extent to which institutional, local system, and national priorities align, and ask what policy or cultural changes may be required in order to allow the FE sector to contribute fully to the needs of the country and local communities.

At a time when Combined Authorities and LEPs are being asked to devise local industrial strategies, this timely discussion will bring together stakeholders from across the system and local government to explore how FE can play a more prominent role in addressing a range of policy challenges from raising productivity, the impact of the 4th industrial revolution, and supporting local infrastructure projects.

The symposium will include a networking lunch from 12:30 to 13:30.

Please RSPV here.


City of Bristol College – AEC at Parkway Centre
New Road
Stoke Gifford
BS34 8SF

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Winter Symposium 2018
05th December 2018

On behalf of Dame Ruth Silver and Baroness Sue Garden of Frognal, you are invited to the Further Education Trust for Leadership’s 2018 Winter Symposium in Parliament.

This year’s theme is the future of lifelong learning, and accompanying the discussion will be a networking lunch and keynote address from former Skills Minister the Rt Hon. Sir John Hayes CBE MP.

Facilitating this forward looking discussion will be Prof Tom Schuller, and we will have panel contributions from Dr Fiona Aldridge, Director of Policy and Research, Learning and Work Institute, and Dr Paul Feldman, Chief Executive, Jisc.

In addition to asking what lifelong learning should look like in a changing society and labour market, this will be a great opportunity to network with college and sector leaders, parliamentarians, employers and other sector stakeholders.

Attendees at this event will require an official invitation to enter the Palace of Westminster, so if you would like to attend this event please contact to RSVP.

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Webinar: 21st Century Skills System: Northern Ireland
30th November 2018

The project’s aim is to look at what a 21st century skills system will need to look like, in light of the challenges we face now and in the future. The project aims to compare Northern Ireland and Scotland as two devolved parts of the UK, with some similarities when it comes to the skills system, and big differences in terms of social, political and economic context.

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Webinar: Finding the glass slipper
19th October 2018

Finding the glass slipper. This webinar is an interview with Carol Thompson, FETL Fellow 2018, and Peter Mayhew-Smith.

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Webinar: Adult community learning and mental health primary care
05th October 2018

This webinar focuses on the FETL research fellowship of Dragana J Ramsden which explored a shared vision of collaborative working between adult community learning with primary care mental health services, and the leadership required to achieve it.


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Webinar: Recognising Excellence in Governance of Independent Training Providers
14th September 2018

This webinar will explain how independent training providers (ITPs) as deliverers of publicly funded skills programmes can benefit from adopting a new Code of Good Governance for ITPs drawn up by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers with support from FETL.

With provider sustainability an important issue during a period of unprecedented sector reform, Dr Sue Pember will discuss why good governance helps ensure that funds are well spent, are focused on government priorities and are delivering high quality teaching and learning for the benefit of employers and learners.  She will also explain how the Code can work for providers of all sizes.

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Webinar: Scripting the future – exploring the potential strategic leadership responses to the marketisation of English FE and vocational provision
27th July 2018

This webinar will explore the impact of greater competition between colleges and the marketisation of English FE more generally.

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WEBINAR: Higher Education in Further Education: Leading the Challenge
08th June 2018


This webinar will consider the issues raised in the FETL Monograph “Higher Education in Further Education: leading the challenge” (Widdowson and King FETL 2018).

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Spring Symposium 2018: Thinking about Place
20th April 2018
  • Friday 20th April, 10:30am-1:30pm
  • Venue: Matthew Boulton College, Birmingham 
  • Chair: Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive RSA
  • Keynote address: Preet Kaur Gill, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston
  • Panel discussion, lunch, and networking reception
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The FETL Annual Lecture 2018
14th March 2018

Whistleblowing – and the loss of the good self

An exploration in search of a new understanding of the processes that underlie the stigmatisation of whistleblowers, by Mark Stein

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Defining further education: does it matter?
15th February 2018

There is no commonly accepted definition of further education (FE), with the term being used to embrace provision that ranges from foundation learning for adults to higher apprenticeships, as well as academic and vocational education for young people from age 14 onwards.  This lecture will be given by Professor Martin Doel the FETL Professor of Leadership in Further Education and Skills.

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FETL Winter Symposium
13th December 2017

We are once again partnering with FETL, an APGSE member, to deliver their Winter Symposium 2017.

The FETL Winter Symposium is focused on the leadership of thinking, the roles and relationships between sector leaders, governors, employers, and elected officials.

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Mental Wellbeing and Leadership Webinar
31st October 2017

In conversation with Dame Ruth Silver: mental wellbeing and leadership

Kathryn James interviews Dame Ruth Silver, President of FETL.  Dame Ruth will talk about FETL’s work and priorities about mental health and wellbeing.

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Rising to the challenge- FETL Summer Symposium
17th July 2017

In the 2017 FETL summer symposium, we shall meet to reflect upon the considerable changes that the 2015-2017 Parliament has implemented. More importantly, we shall consider what these changes may mean for the life of the next Parliament.

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SMF & FETL launch event
26th April 2017

This event will launch a report from a FETL funded project looking beyond the immediate policy and financial issues in Further Education and Skills to envisage the challenges and opportunities facing the sector over the next 10 years. 

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The challenges and opportunities facing the Scottish skills system
19th April 2017

FETL activity covers the four nations of the UK. Following a report by the Institute for Public Policy and Research, (IPPR) sponsored by FETL (Equipping Scotland for the Future) published in January 2017, we are delighted to announce a panel event to discuss the current and future challenges and opportunities facing the skills system in Scotland.

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Parliamentary Symposium - Creating a more commercially minded FE & Skills sector
10th March 2016

Parliamentary Symposium will take place on Thursday 10th March,
8:30-11 am at Portcullis House, Bridge Street, London, SW1A 2LW.

The UK FE and skills sector is undergoing dramatic change with cuts to public funding, demographic shifts, and increased competition from schools and universities all contributing. The sector needs to overcome these challenges in order to thrive, but progress is hampered by gaps in our collective knowledge of FE and skills which, in comparison to other parts of the education system, is under-conceptualised, under-researched, under-theorised, and as a result, is often under-understood. 

Through this symposium, FETL hopes to explore how the FE and Skills sector, by adopting a more commercially minded approach, can stimulate new ways of working to achieve greater performance, as well as a greater enterprising/entrepreneurial spirit within institutions and organisations that operate within the system

This event will look at:

  • the benefit of providers adopting the very best behaviors and practices of commercial business and enterprise in order to raise skills levels and productivity;
  • treat learners both as recipients and customers, and;
  • the role of leaders in terms of Principal vs CEO

Hosted by Barry Sheerman MP, this event will be chaired by Dame Ruth Silver with the following speakers:

  • Mike Smith, Chair of FETL and CEO of Gen 2 one of the largest engineering and technology training providers in the UK.
  • Ian Pretty, CEO 157 Group, a membership body representing leading UK colleges and college groups.
  • Jan Atkinson, Talent and Development Director, Kier Group PLC. A leading property, residential, construction and services company operating across a range of sectors including defence, education, housing, industrials, power, transport and utilities.

To secure a place please contact

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AoC Annual Conference and Exhibition
17th November 2015
The Future of FE and Skills
28th October 2015

The Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL), an independent charity and think tank which is working to strengthen the leadership of thinking in further education and skills, would like to welcome you to its parliamentary symposium.
UK FE and skills is undergoing dramatic change with cuts to public funding, demographic shifts, and increased competition from schools and universities all contributing. The sector needs to overcome these challenges in order to thrive, but progress is hampered by gaps in our collective knowledge of FE and skills which, in comparison to other parts of the education system, is under-conceptualised, under-researched, under-theorised, and as a result, is often under-understood. 
Our aim is to move towards a better way of understanding and talking about what the FE and skills sector does, so that we can articulate and make a clearer case for our place in the skills system.
Through this symposium FETL hopes to look at:

– The space FE and skills institutions currently occupy in the education and training system
– Skills structures and whether the current model for FE is fit for purpose
– The potential impact of the Spending Review and Area Reviews of Post-16 Education and Training
– What can organisations such as FETL do to facilitate the leadership of thinking in this area?
Please join us at 5:30pm for afternoon tea followed by a lively panel discussion.

Policy Connect is supporting the organisation of this event.


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AELP National Conference
22nd June 2015

FETL has a stand at this event, please visit us in Booth 15.

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FETL Inaugural Lecture
10th March 2015

lecture-v1 lecture-v2 lecture-v3 lecture-v5

10th March 2015, Central London, James Krantz (Worklab, New York City) will be delivering the FETL Inaugural Lecture.

Here is some of the feedback

College Vice-Principal:Excellent evening and a wonderful network of people to have in the same place at the same time.”

Community Learning Leader: “I was able to attend the inaugural lecture last night and very much enjoyed it. Thank you for making it possible. I look forward to future events and publications… I would very much like to share the ‘Remembered Thinking’ publication with the middle and senior managers who have signed up to the [leadership] programme.”

Private Provider: “I thought it was an excellent event, a great lecture and a great start of all sorts of thinking and ideas and ambition for the sector! I’m really delighted to be involved and very much looking forward to working with you on our exciting project.”

Higher Education Leader: “Congratulations on an excellent FETL lecture debut – good lecture, good audience and great venue”

Sector Body:I thought the venue was great. I think it was preferable to a more Westminster based event – signalled something more modern, more innovative to be. I liked the fact that it was mostly sector people rather than civil servants/ministers etc. It felt like a very warm welcoming event and very reaffirming.”

Leadership Consultant: “So much of Dr Krantz’s lecture resonated with me…”

Education journalist: “Thanks for inviting me to the lecture last night, I found it interesting and it was a good chance to network with the great and the good of FE.”

Senior Leader: “I really enjoyed the lecture on Tuesday and thanks for the invite; it was a really good event and well attended. It is great to see how FETL is progressing as a charity.”

Sector Membership Body: “Quick note to thank you for inviting us to the lecture – I thought it was a superb event in terms of networking and PR, and the lecture provided us with considerable food for thought, for our organisation as a business but also in our role as a membership body for colleges.”

Trades Union: “Good to see you at the Lecture which I thought was very interesting…”

Trades Union: “There were some thought provoking ideas in there and I’d like to reflect further on what he said, so if you could send me a copy I’d be most grateful.”

Third Sector organisation: “I read the booklet [Remembered Thinking] on my way home on the train. Really liked it. The style and choice of texts and the bringing it up to date – so readable and just about the ideal length for me. Brilliant – as was the event last night. Thanks so much for the invitation.”

You can download your own copy of Remembered Thinking here.

Some tweets about the event

Chris Husbands ‏@Director_IOE Mar 10 – “Krantz @FETforL – neat potted history of theories of leadership and emergence of theories of visionary leadership”

Thomas Kohut ‏@ThomasKohut Mar 10 – “Krantz – as organisations change in the 21stC, leadership can be part of, and even an output of the system itself @FETforL

CampaignforLearning ‏@CForLearning Mar 10 – “Listening to @FETforL inaugural lecture by Dr Jim Krantz on leadership. Fascinating.”

Chris Husbands ‏@Director_IOE Mar 10 – “Krantz @FETforL – reminds that FETL is about the leadership of thinking, not leadership thinking”

Landex ‏@Landexnews Mar 10 – “Watching Jim Krantz inaugural lecture on leaders or leadership the century of the system @FETforL

CandiEXTRA ‏@CandiEXTRA Mar 10 Islington, London – “@FETforL interesting lecture this evening leadership – enrolment vs empowerment”

Jenny Brandham ‏@JennyBrandham Mar 10 – “Excellent thoughts from @FETforL in the inaugural lecture, thank you”

Jess Bridgman ‏@JABridgman Mar 10 – “Great inaugural lecture @FETforL some great ideas around leadership and thinking for FE and Skills. Inspiring stuff.”

cwhinney ‏@cwhinney Mar 10 – “Pleased to see @FETforL promoting Systems Thinking in their Inaugural Lecture and their first round grants. Long overdue in sector.”

Christina Conroy OBE ‏@ConroyChristina Mar 11 – “Interesting take on #leadership @FETforL = system and times create leaders rather than intrinsic personal qualities …”

VetNet LLN ‏@VetNet_LLN Mar 11 – “@FETforL thank you for working hard to raise the awareness and the importance of vocational teaching and learning.”

Jenny Brandham ‏@JennyBrandham Mar 11 – “Still reflecting on the messages from @FETforL particularly; is idealistic unrealistic?”

NAL ‏@neilalovell Mar 11 – “Good to hear James Krantz @FETforL inaugural lecture. Leadership is complex to explain and yet we all know good and bad examples.”

FE Week ‏@FEWeek 5 hrs5 hours ago – “FE bosses were warned against ‘heroic’ leadership at the first @FETforL lecture. Read @paulofford‘s report here:”FETL

TES Further Ed @tesfenews  · 2 hrs 2 hours ago – “Colleges should stop looking for ‘heroic’ principals, says leadership expert”

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'How to Write and Publish Research -- Possibilities and Pitfalls'
07th January 2015

7th January, Newport.  Mark Ravenhall, FETL Chief Executive, to present on ‘Why Research is Important to UK FE’ during the event ‘How to Write and Publish Research — Possibilities and Pitfalls’ with Enterprise Educators UK

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Learning and Skills Research Network
14th November 2014

14 November 2014, Central London.  Ayub Khan, FETL Trustee, to present and answer questions during the event ‘The Practicalities of Using Research Evidence’.

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Third Sector National Learning Alliance
13th November 2014

13 November 2014, Department for Business Innovation and Skills, Central London.  Mark Ravenhall, CEO, to present and answer questions during the conference ‘Raising Our Game– Driving Up Quality in Third Sector Learning and Skills’

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Association of South East Colleges Principals' Group
16th October 2014

16th October 2014, Central London, Mark Ravenhall (FETL, CEO) will be speaking at the Association of South East Colleges Principals’ Group.

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