In this series of blogs, Dr Katerina Kolyva, Chief Executive of the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), reports on her visits to FE and Skills providers across the sector. She uncovers the transformational learning opportunities available to students alongside the dedicated professionalism of teachers, trainers and leaders from the wide variety of different providers across the sector.
A discussion over coffee with Lynette Barrett, CEO, and Rachel Harber, Chief People Officer, clearly demonstrated to me the college’s commitment to workforce development.
The National Star has 1,300 employees across multiple locations and as a charity finds itself in a unique position to deliver both education and care. A multidisciplinary workforce of teachers, nurses, therapists and special education experts come together daily with passion and commitment to offer the best experience to learners with the most complex areas of need. And staff at the National Star make their learners’ education experience positive, supportive and fun.
I experience this first hand when Lynette takes me on a tour of the college and I meet with Katie who is in the middle of enjoying a dance in what is clearly the highlight of her day. Her trainer is more than an educator to her: she is there to ensure her safety, education experience, health and wellbeing.
I am very impressed by Lynette’s strategic vision of how the National Star collaborates and supports education and the wider community through its networks. Whether it is through its support to other further education colleges or apprenticeship work with the local university, Lynette’s focus remains strongly on a collaborative model as she is clear that she can only deliver her charity’s purpose through the lens of partnership work.
The National Star have worked in partnership with the ETF on workforce development training, including SEND leadership programmes, teacher training material and resources. But Lynette gives me constructive feedback on how we can be more efficient in terms of how the ‘wheels are turning’ – as she puts it – and how we can get better at promoting the important role of professionalism and raising the profile of the sector. Looking to the future, she reflects on how, for those who come new to education (whether it is a nurse or an HR professional), a short programme of induction to Further Education and Skills (FES) and SEND would be essential, as raising the profile of SEND and FES as a whole is key.