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Wednesday 15 November- Strand 3 breakout sessions (13:45 - 14:45)

3.01 - Building local skills for the future: Local power, national framework, data driven

Lead organisation: Pearson

Hall 11b


  • Corin Crane - CEO, Coventry and Warks Chamber of Commerce
  • Freya Thomas Monk - Managing Director; Vocational Qualifications & Training, Pearson

Pearson’s Skills Outlook provides vital insight into the immediate needs of the modern workforce, helping employers and employees stay relevant. Our first Skills Map of England identifies the shifts regional workforces will experience now and in the future.

With increased devolution of skills policies, participants will explore why local power is necessary to drive targeted initiatives, the best ways to engage employers, and what centralised frameworks needed to maintain national cohesion.

Data analysis can help anticipate supply and demand of future skills. Participants will consider data most useful to them, and how we can best benchmark progress made.

3.02 - Inclusive and ambitious curriculum design to create better outcomes for SEND students

Lead organisation: Heart of Yorkshire Education Group

Hall 11a


  • Laura Lavender - Director of Inclusion, Heart of Yorkshire Education Group

This session aims to highlight the funded pathways to employment for students with SEND in FE. Share knowledge and experience of barriers to paid work for those with SEND. Find solutions to example issues relating to curriculum design, funding routes and policy compliance through group trouble shooting and knowledge sharing. Attendees will take away further knowledge on ways to design inclusive curriculum to meet individual student need and maximise opportunities for positive outcomes for SEND students, whilst increasing knowledge relating to funding streams to support.

3.03 - Unlocking success: Navigating External Board Reviews (ERB)

Lead organisation: Association of Colleges

Hall 7b


  • Sam Bromwich - Governance Professional, Solihull College
  • Gill Darwood- Governance Professional, Dudley College
  • Elton D’Souza - EBR Consultant, Oaklands College
  • Barbara Hughes - Chair, Solihull College
  • Rob Lawson - EBR Consultant, Hull College
  • Paul Noon - Chair, Dudley College
  • Peter Thompson - Chair, Oaklands College

External Board Reviews are a critical component of Further Education governance, and in this dynamic panel discussion, we bring together experienced reviewers and college representatives who've been through the process. Expect an illuminating conversation as our panellists share: insider insights, real-world experiences and best practices to ensure a positive outcome.

Whether you're a seasoned professional or new to the world of governance, this session promises to demystify External Board Reviews and equip you with the knowledge and strategies to make the most of this crucial process.

3.04 - The College Collective Approach

Lead organisation: Association of Colleges, The KWP Ltd and, Partner Colleges

Hall 6a


  • Edd Brown - Vice Principal; 16-18 and Quality, Weston College
  • Gerry McDonald - CEO and Principal, New City College
  • Ben Robinson - Deputy Principal/Chief Executive, Middlesbrough College
  • Aaron Takyi - Head of Faculty, St Francis Xavier
  • Riikka Vihriala - Group Head of Strategic Projects, New City College
  • Dr Kate Webb - Managing Director The KWP Ltd and Project Lead, Association of Colleges

The College Collective is an innovative approach to sector-led consultancy with the aim of retaining and developing consultant talent and expertise within colleges for the benefit of the sector at large and their communities. The Collective pools insights and knowledge through recognising and sharing talented college managers who are trained and accredited as AoC Associate Experts to provide mutual support to partner colleges. This session showcases the powerful stories of colleges and experts involved in the initiative and highlights the tangible benefits and positive impacts on professional development and institutional improvements. Learn how you and your college can get involved.

3.05 - College enrichment for student personal and social development

Lead organisation: NCFE, Association of Colleges and University of Derby

Hall 7a


  • Dr Bally Kaur - Researcher, University of Derby
  • Gray Mytton - Assessment Innovation Manager, NCFE

Colleges are very committed to students’ personal and social development and AoC is supporting this in a range of new ways, for example through the work of AoC Sport, the Youth Social Action apprentices programme, the Creative Writing project, the leadership academy and other initiatives. This will be an opportunity to hear from the NCFE and AoC Valuing Enrichment project with the University of Derby, which is providing evidence of the benefits of good enrichment and helping us make the case for more funding and support for this work.

3.06 - Democratic Education in FE: Developing political literacy

Lead organisation: Association of Colleges, The Politics Project

Executive Room 2


  • Harriet Andrews - Director, The Politics Project
  • Dean Hardman - Director of Sport and Student Experience, Association of Colleges

Only 47% of 18–25-year-olds voted in the 2019 general election (compared with 75% of 65 yrs+), while only 15% of young people agree with the statement “I trust politicians.” With a general election expected in 2024, this session considers the ways in which colleges can support young people to engage with the political process, starting with practical advice and guidance but also considering longer term approaches to improving political literacy.

3.07 - Lifelong Learning Entitlement and Short courses– What is the role for FE colleges in shaping the LLE curriculum?

Lead organisation: LTE Group, Bolton College, Hopwood Hall College, Oldham College and Trafford College

Hall 9


  • Simon Farrar - Director of HE, Hopwood Hall College
  • Jane Nickisson - Assistant Principal Higher Education, Trafford College Group
  • Gill Scott - Director of Innovation and Development, LTE Group
  • Karen Westsmith - Assistant Principal Curriculum and Quality, Bolton College

In this session colleagues from Greater Manchester (GM) will share with you their experience in the collaborative development of high-value/high-quality short courses, working with key stakeholders including other colleges, employers, students, GM Chamber (LSIP) and GM Combined Authority. In discussions, we will consider both lessons learned from our project and, in the context of the OfS short course trial, the potential for FE colleges to shape and influence the Lifelong Learning Entitlement Curriculum.

Takeaways from this session:

  • insight into collaborative development of short courses
  • potential opportunities and approaches for FE colleges to influence and shape the Lifelong Learning Curriculum

3.08 - Green Skills and Green Jobs - The evidence for investment

Lead organisation: Association of Colleges

Hall 8a


  • Fiona Goodwin - Deputy CEO, EAUC
  • Grahm Hastings-Evans - Chief Executive, NOCN
  • Melanie Lenehan - Principal and CEO, Fircroft College of Adult Education
  • Mark Southgate - CEO, MOBIE

In March 2023 Government published its updated net zero strategy, but criticised for lacking significant new policies or extra investment, with independent climate advisers saying they are less confident that the UK will meet the 2050 target. The ambition is for 2 million green jobs by 2030, the ‘Skills for Jobs White Paper’ sets out the role colleges will play in providing the green workforce of the future. This session will examine the evidence for investment in skills and jobs to achieve a net zero future, we will hear from leading players and identify the asks we will put to the government.

3.09 - What are Essential Skills today and how do we ensure our students develop them?

Lead organisation: Skills Builder Partnership, National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and Edge

Hall 10b


  • Evelyn Haywood - Director of Education, Skills Builder Partnership
  • Lisa Morrison Coulthard - Research Director: Optimal Pathways, NFER
  • Deidre Williams - Product Strategic Lead, Vocational Qualifications & Training, Pearson

Employability skills, ''soft skills', core skills, transferable skills, life skills.... do we have a shared understanding of what these are, their value, and how best to support our students to develop them? An opportunity to hear the latest thinking from experts in skills development.

3.10 - Skills Bootcamps in FE colleges

Lead organisation: Department for Education


Delegates who have not pre-booked this session won’t be able to attend. Please check your latest confirmation email to see which breakout sessions you have booked.

Executive Room 1


  • Bethany Gladwood - Head of Skills Bootcamps Strategy and Engagement, Department for Education
  • Brittany Senior - Policy Adviser, Department for Education
  • Nafees Star - Senior Policy Adviser, Department for Education
  • Lynsey Wilson - Curriculum Director – Land based, Animal and Equine, Suffolk New College

An introduction to Skills Bootcamps generally, as well as how they work in a college context, the opportunities that come with them, and what the Department for Education are doing to address challenges for colleges. We will discuss how colleges can engage with DfE on the delivery and development of Skills Bootcamps, including through our new forum for colleges. Attendees will also learn about Skills Bootcamps as a Pathway to Accelerated Apprenticeships.
We will hear the college perspective on Skills Bootcamps delivery and there will be an open discussion on actions such as driving up employer engagement and securing outcomes.

3.11 - An institutional approach to Artificial Intelligence - AI for good

Lead organisation: Milton Keynes College

Hall 5


  • Penny Langford - Executive Head of Digital Learning, Milton Keynes College
  • Alex Warner - Principal, Milton Keynes College

Milton Keynes College is taking an institutional approach to Artificial Intelligence to ensure that it is harnessed for good. The College is promoting its use to cut workload for teachers and support wellbeing as well as investigating ways that it can be used to identify trends in terms of at-risk students. Ethical considerations underpin our work and Milton Keynes College Group’s Digital Transformation Group has oversight of the projects. Find out how the college is promoting the use of AI as an employability skill and how we are using different AI tools such as ChatGPT, Teachermatic and embedded Microsoft products.

3.12 - Ofsted FES Curriculum Unit

Lead organisation: Ofsted

Hall 10a


  • Rebecca Clare - HMI, Ofsted
  • Mike Finn - HMI, Ofsted
  • Saul Pope - HMI, Ofsted

This session will outline the work of the FES Curriculum Unit. We will look at recent curriculum research activities undertaken by the unit and provide information about the range of Curriculum Unit publications and resources that will become available during autumn 2023 and in early 2024.

3.13 - Boosting local productivity: The role colleges can play in supporting businesses to innovate

Lead organisation: The Gatsby Foundation, Association of Colleges, EKC Group and Loughborough College

Hall 8b


  • Daniel Sandford-Smith - Director Education Programmes, The Gatsby Foundation
  • Dan Shelley - Chief Infrastructure and Transformation Officer, EKC Group
  • Laura Shepherd - Director of Strategic Partnerships and External Relationships, Loughborough College

How do we develop meaningful employer engagement partnerships that boost economic productivity? How do we support employer innovation and growth? AoC and the Gatsby Foundation have been working with a group of colleges enabling them to develop a mindset and strategies which foster and support business innovation. In this session you will hear about that journey, recent research about the college's role in supporting business innovation and hear from colleges involved in the pilot. We hope that delegates attending will learn about the benefits of working this way - both to the college, its students and the local economy.

3.14 - AoC member drop-in surgery

Hall 6b

Lead organisation: Association of Colleges

A chance to talk about the issues of the day, from the conference, or the next few years, with the President, Chair, CE and Deputy CE of AoC – just an informal chat with questions, ideas, thoughts, and curiosity.