Education and Training Foundation and #UKFEchat meeting

Some of the #ukfechat team were given the opportunity to meet with David Russell, the CEO of The Education and Training Foundation (ETF). The purpose of this meeting was to ask questions regarding their vision for the new professional body for people teaching and supporting in further education, Society for Education and Training (SET).
Through the power of Google docs those that had put forward a request (myself included) to attend added key areas that they wished to discuss and then our chief commanding officer of #ukfechat (Sarah Simons) slimmed it down into key themes. These were –

  • SET membership
  • Professionalism: To include Professional Standards, research and raising FE profile
  • FELTAG: To include sustainability in light of funding cuts
  • Ofsted
  • CPD: To include initial teacher training, teacher progression pathways and QTLS
  • English and maths

The meeting was at ETF’s office in London, in the very swanky area of Buckingham Palace Road. Like a big kid I got slightly excited as I passed Buckingham Palace and I think my mouth was generally wide open gawking at the amazing building whilst walking to ETF HQ.

The #ukfechat team for this meeting was Sarah Simons, Scott Hayden, Kerry Harris, Nikki Gilbey, Beckie Dunsby, Maria Wilkinson, Patrice Miller, Hannah Tyreman and yours truly. Once we were badged up we were taken through to the ETF office and taken into a very bright and airy conference room. David greeted us along with Tricia Odell and Lee Armitt.

The two hours flew by (we also survived the brief power cut) and although we were sat round a large table it was a very relaxed atmosphere and David was very calm and happily answered our questions and vice versa. Everybody had an opportunity to speak on the key themes. Here is some of the information shared relating to the themes:-
SET membership

  • 10000 people working in FE and Adult Learning have taken up membership and it is steadily increasing.
  • There will never be a compulsory requirement to be part of SET
  • The hope is to evolve QTLS rather than revolutionise it. This still has a long way to go but it is ETF’s/ SET’s  vision to make QTLS much more than a tick box process and an opportunity to deflect form FE to secondary.
  • Their aim to have QTLS recognised and rewarded as QTS is. It will be more in line as a badge of professional status too.


  • Since Matthew Hancock left the passion for it as well as the funding has diminished. However now Nick Bowles is securely in place the hope is he will start making more effort towards it.
  • We all hope it will be back up as priority very soon and as many of us know it will not go away, industry needs a workforce that is tech savvie.

English and maths

  • More research on English and maths provision in FE is needed.
  • Sharing of good practice and discussion on what works what doesn’t is very beneficial for both Maths and English.
  • ETF will continue to offer training on this both GCSE and Functional Skills


  • It was clear that there will absolutely be no requirement to record CPD on an annual basis.
  • Resources can be found through Excellence Gateway, however some improvements are needed
  • There will also be resources to help deliver Maths and English (GCSE and Functional Skills)


  • With regards to the 20 Professional Standards, Ofsted will be looking for it in their inspections.
  • Some colleges will probably still grade for internal observation processes. ETF are considering the possibility of offering support to colleges to make the transition from grading internal observations. ETF recognise that moving away from grading in FE is not as simple as it sounds. FE relies on grading data to assess how they are doing against other FE providers. They want to ensure the internal observation process is robust and still able to make judgments on quality of teaching.

Thank you again to David for his transparency and openness over the vision of SET.

There is also a strong possibility that we may get to meet up again and discuss the progress of finding a balance for a professional body that has real value and helps to raise the profile of education in the lifelong learning sector.