For the past year, NUS Wales has been campaigning on developing the learner voice within further education.
Learner voice mechanisms are compulsory within schools through the Schools Effectiveness Framework, and within higher education institutions through strict guidelines laid down by the Quality Assurance Agency.
But where has this left further education? Standards of learner voice mechanisms across Wales vary, some colleges are excellent, some are ok and some will ask you what the learner voice is, which is shambolic.
NUS Wales has taken the initiative this year to ensure that learner voice mechanisms become best embedded within further education colleges’ right across Wales.
We have lobbied civil servants, the Education Minister, education spokespeople for the main political parties, the body that represents colleges in Wales, attended several working groups and the Further Education Governance Review.
This has been the bulk of my work load this year, and I have seized this opportunity to make a real difference to the quality of education delivered within further education institutions in Wales.
And the end result? A brand new Learner Voice Guidance which NUS Wales inputted significantly into, and which is due for launch on May 13th this year.
A minimum of two student governors on each college corporation board which have to be elected by the student body and a national training program for these elected governors to ensure that they are able to undertake their roles effectively.
In addition, FE colleges must promote a sustainable and effective representation system within their institution to encompass all learners, with NUS Wales currently in discussions with the Welsh Assembly Government on a new engagement project to ensure that the correct resources are inputted into the new learner engagement promoted by the Welsh Assembly Government.
NUS Wales has achieved an incredible amount for FE learners in Wales this year, something of which I am extremely proud. But there are challenges that lie ahead for us and FE students.
It’s essential that the new guidance is embedded as part of a new culture within further education institutions, and not simply seen as another add on for them. Colleges have to stand up and undertake this work.
It’s important for colleges to realise that they do not have to reinvent the wheel. There is plenty of good practice out there for them to share.
In addition, the Welsh Assembly Government now has to invest into the new guidance to ensure that policy doesn’t fail and that it brings the impact it needs and can on the educational experience of learners within further education in Wales.
NUS Wales will not rest until this happens, that I guarantee you.
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