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Wednesday 15 November - Hot Topics (11:30 - 12:30)

Hot Topic 1

Hall 11b

How is assessment changing?

Qualification reform is a continuing feature of the post-16 landscape and external assessment accounts for a significant share of college resources, staff and student time. T Levels and reformed qualifications seem likely to increase these demands, while new technologies may offer new possibilities to reduce it. This will be an opportunity to hear about the challenges and potential solutions.

Chair: Eddie Playfair - Senior Policy Manager, Association of Colleges

Panel members:

  • Lucy Sydney - Director of Strategic Relationships, Ofqual
  • Lizzie Watts - Director of Accreditation and Standards, Pearson

Hot Topic 2

Hall 10a

Is the UK the next skills superpower?

Germany, Switzerland and Finland are all too often held up as beacons of vocational education excellence. Why not the UK? This session will debate where the UK benchmarks in terms of its international competitors and how we can elevate the global reputation and export potential of colleges.

Chair: Lisa Morrison Coulthard - Research Director: Optimal Pathways, National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)

Panel members:

  • Suzanne Duncan - Principal and Chief Executive Officer, East Durham College
  • Jonathan Ledger CMgr FCMI - Technical and Vocational Education & Training (TVET) Skills and Professional Bodies Specialist, Department for Business and Trade
  • Emma Roberts - Director of External Affairs, WorldSkills UK

Hot Topic 3

Hall 11a

Future capital funding. What do colleges need and where will they get it?

Colleges will need investment over the next ten years to cut energy costs and carbon emissions while providing space appropriate for a changing mix of courses. Staff, students and employers all, understandably want more but the political cycle means that capital budgets end in 2025 while colleges can’t borrow. This session will discuss what colleges are doing now and what the sector needs in the next spending review.

Chair: Zoe Lewis - Chief Executive and Principal, Middlesbrough College

Panel members:

  • Janet Gardner - Principal and CEO, Waltham Forest College
  • Julian Gravatt - Deputy CEO, Association of Colleges

Hot Topic 4

Hall 10b

The levy reimagined and boosting college apprenticeships. Is it time for a rethink?

As we reach the point where the current apprenticeship levy is fully committed, this session will debate what should happen with the levy as we move into the next cycle of government. We will also explore UCAS's commitment to apprenticeships at all levels, and how its plans will meet the needs of colleges in practice. This session will hear thoughts from the panel followed by a discussion with the audience.

Chair: Linda Dean - Executive Director for Apprenticeships and People, Blackpool and The Fylde College

Panel members:

  • Grant Glendinning - Chief Executive and Group Principal, Education and Training Collective
  • Yiannis Koursis OBE - Chief Executive Designate, The Bedford College Group

Hot Topic 5

Hall 8a

Lifelong Learning Entitlement: Will it be a game changer?

From 2025, Lifelong Learning Entitlement (LLE) will allow individuals to take out loans equivalent to four years of post-18 education to use over their lifetime. The LLE has the potential to be a game-changer, however will this truly be the beginning of a significant cultural shift in the way post-18 education and training is delivered and taken up in England? As part of this session, there will be a lively debate and discussion on the potential of LLE and considerations in its successful implementation.

Chair: Arti Saraswat - Senior Policy Manager, Higher Education, Association of Colleges

Panel members:

  • Virginia Barrett - Principal, Farnborough College of Technology
  • Liz Bromley - CEO, Newcastle College Group
  • Ian Pryce - CEO, Bedford College Group

Hot Topic 6

Hall 7a

This session is only open to college principals and senior leadership teams
Workforce – Is the tide turning on pay

How has the additional recycled funding impacted on your local industrial relations? A practical, informative discussion; hear from an Irwin Mitchell legal advisor who will take you through the legal aspects to consider as recent tribunal decisions. Come ready to join the debate, ask questions and give your views. This session aims to be both discursive and practical.

Chair: Gerry McDonald - Chief Executive and Group Principal, New City College Group

Panel members:

  • Jenny Arrowsmith - Partner, Irwin Mitchell
  • Stephen Davis - Chief Executive and Group Principal, United Colleges Group

Hot Topic 7

Hall 8b

English and maths: The elephant in every room?

The Condition of Funding has been in place for a decade with more post-16 students than ever needing to retake English and maths, but low GCSE grade 4 success rates. Is it time to review the way we support the development of our students' English and maths and the qualifications we use?

Chair: Cath Sezen - Director of Education Policy, Association of Colleges

Panel members:

  • Kiera Harper - Director for Technical Education and Essential Skills, Department for Education
  • Karen Spencer - Principal and CEO, Harlow College and Stansted Airport College

Hot Topic 8

Hall 9

LSIPs - Will they deliver in three year's time?

38 Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) were published this summer, placing employers at the heart of the skills system and empowering colleges to deliver local and national place-based outcomes. With forthcoming mayoral and general elections, how can LSIPs stay on track and provide the skills the UK economy needs? Showcasing new research from the Association of Colleges, this session will hear from an expert panel and invite debate from the audience.

Chairs: Rebecca Durber - Area Director (NW) & Senior Policy Lead (Skills Reform), Association of Colleges

Shelly Smith - Consultant (Local Skills and Devolution), Association of Colleges

Panel members:

  • Dr Fiona Aldridge - Head of Insight & Intelligence, Economic Delivery, Skills & Communities, West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA)
  • Chris Hobson - Director of Policy & External Affairs, East Midlands Chamber, Employer Representative Body for Leicester & Leicestershire
  • Wes Johnson - Chief Executive & Principal, Myerscough College & University Centre
  • Dr Gareth Thomas MIoD - Managing Director, Skills & Employment Support Limited