Foster Report (2005)

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The publication of the findings of the Foster Review of Further Education, the full title of which is Realising the Potential: A Review of the Future Role of Further Education Colleges. It represents a significant landmark in the history of further education (FE) since it offers the definition of the purpose of the sector, which was to inform the 2006 White Paper Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances. The vision it puts forward is of FE as the cornerstone of skills training. In paragraph 57 of the Report this is set out clearly as follows: ‘A focus on vocational skills building is not a residual choice, but a vital building block in the UK's platform for future prosperity. It gives FE colleges an unequivocal mission and the basis of a renewed and powerful brand image.’ This ‘unequivocal mission’ was not welcomed unanimously by educationalists within FE, some of whom retained a vision of the sector which included its role as provider of the ‘second chance’ for those seeking to re‐engage with a general, rather than an instrumental, education. The Report is notable for its employment of a market‐related vocabulary in a context of education and training, as illustrated in the extract above; and also for its introduction of a new metaphor for FE, describing it as a ‘middle child’ occupying a position between the schools sector and higher education, and sometimes suffering neglect as a consequence.

Subjects: Education.

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