Since 2005, NEF has contributed over £5M to the Further Education sector of which £3M has been given in direct cash to support continuous professional development (CPD), innovation and knowledge exchange activities. This support has benefited 2400 lecturers from 250 Further Education colleges and engaging 500 companies, positively impacting over 480,000 learners.
2012 was a year of transformation and change for NEF. Alongside its steadfast commitment to driving and providing unique and exciting professional development opportunities for Further Education in science, engineering and technology companies, NEF extended its capability and reach to provide research and programmes to stimulate and support SciTech innovation in education, industry and government.
In 2012, NEF’s CPD programme comprising of the Industrial Fellowship Scheme and Masterclasses has engaged 301 lecturers from 40 FE colleges and 71 companies and host organisations during 2012, thereby benefiting an estimated 30,100 post-16 students1 studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The Further Education landscape is more than ever facing challenges at local, regional and national levels. These challenges are partly due to the cuts in state funding of colleges (teaching and capital investment) and social deprivation in many of the regions colleges serve, coupled with the limiting economic conditions that demand colleges to present different solutions. The national trends validated at regional level by NEF’s economic strategists demonstrate that Science, engineering and technology based industries remain to be relatively healthy and manufacturing continues to achieve limited but a positive growth in the economy. These challenges are compounded by a limited scientific and technical capability of the lecturers, and a curriculum that is, in the main, dated and structurally rigid, governed by externally controlled factors dictated by qualification awarding bodies and target-driven inspection regimes.
Against this backdrop, there are a number of determined colleges with strong leadership who are turning these challenges into opportunities for their colleges and communities. NEF’s focus has been on those determined colleges to support the development of their scientific and technical capability. In doing so, NEF’s Intelligent College model has been used to guide the NEF-College engagement process, where the focus has been on:
Despite the challenges, the NEF CPD programme remains to be the catalyst for change and a primary source for technical enrichment for STEM lecturers in the Further Education sector. NEF has extended its range of capabilities, sector activities and partnerships to stimulate innovation in STEM Further Education.
The NEF is determined to extend the benefits of this technical and educational enrichment from the individual lecturer level to that of a college STEM department(s). Through its STEM Assured and STEM Strategy and Innovation Hubs developments, NEF is now working closely with many colleges not only to enhance their professional development plans, but also to ensure that these colleges move towards developing a coherent and cross-curricula STEM provision that is fit for purpose and embraces new and emerging technology disciplines.
NEF established the Intelligent College Network (ICN) that brings together 54 colleges. The ICN has enabled colleges to develop a matrix of disciplines to co-develop curriculum and share resources and good practice. This peer-to-peer interaction is proving to be effective and provides a platform for discussion and creating a shared vision to drive innovation in the FE STEM community.
NEF’s work continues to ensure that colleges embrace a strategic approach to development and delivery of STEM, thereby driving provision that is connected and aligned to demand, contextualised to suit local conditions and sectors, and is contemporary in its curriculum design and delivery to maximise learning transfer through creating effective collaboration with business and industry, universities, other colleges and professional institutions across the educational value chain.
We have developed and tested a number of innovation programmes that will enable educational providers to take an active role in economic development. The Investor In Innovations standard and the development of Innovation Hubs are some of the example mechanisms that support colleges to build economic and organisational resilience.
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