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Annual Conference shows vital importance of colleges

20 May 2019

More than 1,000 delegates were in attendance this week at the Association of Colleges’ Annual Conference and Exhibition to see and hear the latest on the role colleges play within the sector and wider communities. The conference, which has been taking place for more than 20 years now, brought together business leaders, principals and further education staff as they got to see more than 60 speakers, as well as attend over 50 workshops n breakout sessions. Following the movement around the #LoveOurColleges campaign and the disappointing announcements in this month’s Budget, attendees welcomed speeches from the likes of Skills Minister Anne Milton MP, Shadow Secretary of State Angela Rayner MP, Ofsted Chief Amanda Spielman and the OECD’s Andreas Schleicher. Angela Rayner MP used her speech to propose new Labour further education reforms, with a particular focus on scrapping the GCSE resit policy. Anne Milton praised the impact of the #LoveOurColleges campaign but said that colleges must do more to get their leadership and governance right. Elsewhere Amanda Spielman used her keynote to once again call for an increase in the base rate for 16-to-18 funding. Outside of the speeches, awards were presented to the fantastic winners of the Student of the Year Awards, while for the first time, the finalists of the Beacon Awards and Tes FE Awards were announced together. The winners will be announced at the Tes FE Awards ceremony in London next March. Carole Stott, Chair of the Association of Colleges, said: “This year’s conference was a fantastic event to attend and one I was honoured to be part of in my last year as AoC Chair. “With the recent noise around the #LoveOurColleges activity and the disappointing Budget announcements, this was a great opportunity to shout loudly and proudly about the great role that colleges play in their local community. “The speakers and delegates all brought a great energy with them and it is now our job to keep the momentum going ahead of the Spending Review next year to secure the investment that colleges sorely need.”