Introduction: The aim of this report is to understand what factors makes the lifelong learning sector (LLS), and how it operates. Firstly, I will look at the scope and nature of the LLS, and its features and how it differs from other sectors. I will also be including information about the other regulating bodies that impact on the LLS: for example Ofsted, awarding bodies and internal, external verifiers, and the Education Training Foundation (ETF), and the different types of funders. Furthermore I will address the issues around the key policies that are impacting on the LLS. Finally, to conclude I will research how all of the above affects the organisation I work for, and look at how it impacts on what I teach.
The LLS is a gateway for many people to get back into education, it is not restricted to anyone depending on age. People as young as fourteen up to retirement age are welcome to embark on the path of learning, whether it means a career change, or catching up on missed education. According to Fisher and Simmons, (2010, pg9) “the term lifelong learning is a commonplace, but it is not a straightforward concept, it can be understood as a process in which the individual continues to engage in education and training throughout life”
The main difference between the LLS from other sectors is the education taught in the organisation. Mainstream schools who are under the local authority are responsive to government only agendas, so is the LLS. However, in mainstream schools the government decides on the curriculum, whereas in the LLS the FE colleges are varied in size and have a much bigger scope and have strong links with industry. In the LLS education is seen as building upon and affecting all existing educational providers, which include schools and institutions of higher education. Examples are colleges, 6th forms, and Community Centers, Community Colleges, Prisons and rehabilitations centers. It also extends beyond the formal educational providers to encompass all agencies, groups and individuals involved in any kind of learning activity. It rests on the belief that “individuals are, or can become, self-directing, and that they will see the value in engaging in lifelong education”. FE News
The LLS offers a broad curriculum for its diverse students, offering basic skills, and courses for those with special needs, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL); and work based learning for students following apprenticeship and vocational courses. Students at FE colleges undertake degree level courses, including professional qualifications, foundation degrees, in combining with academic and work based learning. As pointed out by Fisher and Simmons (2010) “The other institutes that comprise FE are more easily defined, as they concentrate mainly on particular groups of learners or subject areas”
The key policy that is currently impacting on the LLS is the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group FELTAG report which is the result of the WOLF and Lingfield reports. The FELTAG has focused on understanding what establishes online delivery and what the implications of having to achieve a certain percentage of online delivery are. The Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock recently announced that “all Further Education publicly funded courses should have an element of online content to secure Skills Funding Agency SFA funding”. The Wolf report made detailed recommendations for how to help improve, create and maintain vocational education for 14- to 19-year-olds. FE news
This new ruling will come into effect from September next year 2015, meaning all FE Colleges must have an online learning solution in place. As stated in the FE news “Because technology and the way we use it for work, in education and in our personal lives develops quickly, the needs for learners to do this is likewise. What meets learner’s requirements this year will likely seem…