Ambitious targets set out by Lord Leitch in his Review of Skills are attainable and the QIA will be offering colleges and providers with the help they need to achieve these ambitions.
The Quality Improvement Agency's (QIA) response to the ambitious targets set out by Lord Leitch in his Review of skills is that they are attainable. The QIA welcomes Leitch's final report and supports his ambition that the UK should become a world leader in skills by 2020. But how is that ambition to be achieved and can the further education system deliver its part?
It is the QIA's belief that, given the further education system's track record of improvement and responsiveness, this ambition - and the major changes that the move to demand-led funding implies - can be achieved. However, it would be all too easy to underestimate the challenge that this presents and QIA will be offering colleges and providers with the help they need to achieve these ambitions.
QIA's mission is to provide this support by facilitating and championing excellence and innovation in the system. We do this through working with colleges and providers and commissioning programmes that support their pursuit of excellence and helping them to implement government reforms. Increasingly, QIA's priorities are driven by colleges' and providers' own assessment of what is needed to improve their responsiveness to employers and learners, and learners' and employers' views of what providers need to do to improve.
We vigorously believe that 'excellence comes from within; it cannot be imposed'. Our first task, therefore, is to talk to those who work across the further education system to find out what support they need and make sure we have effective mechanisms for regular consultation and feedback.
We are establishing close working links with the National Learners Panel, the new Commission for Employment and Skills, and the Sector Skills Councils to ensure that we take account of the needs of learners and employers in developing our support programmes.
Leitch's priorities are already being supported by many of our existing programmes, including the Skills for Life Improvement Programme, the Train to Gain Development Programme, and, of course, our largest programme, the National Teaching and Learning Change Programme.
We believe that these programmes can be built on and extended, and we will be reviewing what we do in the light of Leitch's recommendations. We will also look at how we can do more to support Level 3 and Level 4 provision in colleges and providers. QIA will have to agree with colleges and providers on the most useful ways of supporting them in becoming demand led, and work with our key partners to develop such support.
Another way in which we are helping colleges and providers to meet the Leitch targets is through our new Excellence Gateway. This web portal gives practitioners a single point of access to effective practice from peers, networks to support their self-improvement agenda, suppliers of improvement services, and resources, tools and materials to support teaching and learning.
QIA will ensure that over the next few years the recommendations from the Leitch Report will set the agenda for the development of the Excellence Gateway.
Pursuing Excellence, the national Improvement Strategy for the further education system, will shortly be published by QIA. The final document has been produced following extensive consultation with colleges and providers, representative bodies and national organisations. It sets out a coherent action plan for system-wide continuous improvement that takes account of moves towards a more demand-led, self-regulating system.
QIA will trial the publication of the Improvement Strategy at a national event on 31 January 2007 where key national figures will explore the topic 'excellence comes from within; it cannot be imposed'. The main points from the discussion will be published on the Excellence Gateway and the discussion will be continued through the Improvement Strategy online community. Markos TirisProgramme Manager; National Teaching and Learning Change ProgrammeQIA - Quality Improvement Agency for Lifelong Learning (http://www.qia.org.uk/)