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FE and skills across the four countries of the UK: New opportunities for learning

The Edge Foundation, the Department for Education in England and City and Guilds funded and participated in an Inquiry entitled, ‘Policy and policy learning across the four countries of the UK: the case of further education and skills’, to compare the skills and further education (FE) systems across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The project revolved around six thematic seminars, one in each of the four countries and a further two in London to begin and conclude the programme. Themes included: aims and principles for FE and skills policy; the role of employers in education and skills; the role and governance of FE colleges; policy levers (funding, inspection, performance tables); meeting employer and learners needs and demands; learning in the workplace; and the role of localities and regions., The final report provides a summary of some of the key ideas that were discussed during the Inquiry. The report begins with a short discussion of the conceptual ideas that lay behind the seminar series. It continues by providing brief, factual profiles of the context for FE and skills in the four countries and a series of vignettes depicting ‘interesting practice’ in the five jurisdictions and a section on common challenges across the UK and where policy learning might take place. The report concludes with some ideas about next steps for building on the seminar series to keep the learning process alive.