Reimagining FE 2017 Conference: Transformation

Reimagining Further Education: Transformation 

Wednesday 21st June 2017, 9:00am-4:30pm, Birmingham City University

Overview of the conference:

On 21st June 2017, Birmingham City University’s Centre for the Study of Practice and Culture in Education (CSPACE) will host its second one-day Reimagining Further Education Conference at its City Centre Campus (Curzon Building), located in the centre of Birmingham. The conference will bring together practitioners, researchers and key figures in the field of further education (FE) and will cover a range of themes from adult
and offender learning to Literacy, Teacher Learning and alternative education in FE.

In keeping with the event’s title, Reimagining Further Education, the conference format is designed to provide opportunities for collaboration and interaction amongst all those present. Instead of the conventional ‘stand and deliver’ format of many conferences, Reimagining Further Education is built around group conversations framed and facilitated by a discussant and chair for each of the 6 thematic strands included. By exploring positive, imaginative and creative ways forward that enhance agency in FE practitioners and learner, this conference aims to put the ‘confer’ back into conference.

There will be a natural link between morning and afternoon sessions (strand conversations 1 and 2), with the focus in the morning being on the sharing of examples of stories of transformation and its impact and a discussion about the essential ingredients that enable transformative education to take place in this area. The afternoon session will focus on the current barriers to the realisation of transformation in each area and strategies for dealing with these barriers.

We are therefore recommending that delegates choose their preferred strand and remain in this strand throughout the day.

The strands are:

  1. Adult learning / Access to Higher Education (HE):

This strand will focus on the transformative potential of adult learning and Access to HE courses. Adult learning has always been a CRUCIAL and vital strand of further education. For example, adults returning to education have often had to overcome significant barriers in the public and private domains of their life. Access courses are a traditional gateway for adults who, having overcome many obstacles take on the exciting challenge of a sustained period of study. Re-engaging with education offers a lifeline to knock down those barriers and reclaim positive identities and agency. Transformation is an inherent feature of this kind of provision. How can it be supported to enhance its important contribution?

  1. Literacy, Language and Numeracy:

ESOL is a key component of FE provision in our multicultural society. Cities, For example Birmingham, Manchester and London, are home to communities from all over the globe (Birmingham has 100+ languages in its schools). The language needs of the adults in these families are often addressed through attending ESOL classes in their local colleges. These classes link communities, promote cohesion and offer trajectories into further education, training and employment. Whilst Literacy and indeed numeracy classes are often the point of entry for adults who want to re-enter education and bring about changes in their lives.

  1. Offender Learning / Supported Learning:

This strand will provide a critical space for participants to discuss the broad social and educational role of FE. The rehabilitative potential of offender learning is widely recognised: that it can play an important role in reducing recidivism and can contribute to the reintegration into society of marginalised groups and individuals. However, to what extent is this potential currently being realised? Adult supported learning provides an example of how further education is an important resource for social cohesion and social equality.

  1. Apprenticeship / Vocational Qualification:

Vocational qualifications are vital aspects of further education’s role in providing a transition between education and work. Further education has a history of building partnerships with employers and connecting with the world of work. Apprenticeships are a key feature of current government to policy. This strand will provide a forum for participants to discuss how these aspects of further education can be transformative for learners and indeed employers.

  1. Initial Teacher Education / Higher Ed in Further Ed:

Colleges and other FE providers offer vital routes into teaching and access to HE through foundation degrees and other qualifications. FE provides routes into vital roles in the workforce, which include: nursing, teaching and social work. Importantly, it also offers an important space for workers to upskill in their work-life trajectory.

  1. 14-16 / Alternative Education / Home Schoolers:

This growing area of interest in further education centres on colleges offering solutions for learners who, for a variety of reasons do not take up the option of ‘compulsory, state education’ or who do not thrive in school. The strand will offer a critical space to explore how this area can be linked in a cohesive way to FE to support learners who are often marginalised or feel as though they do not fit in with the mainstream offer.

The conference will be a public platform and creative space for thinking through and articulating ideas about transformation and further education.

Tickets prices include entry to the full programme, a conference pack, lunch and refreshments. Spaces are limited so tickets will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. We anticipate this is likely to be a popular event so you are advised to book early to avoid missing out on a place.

If you are interested in attending the conference and/or would like to know more about it, please contact: Or check out the website –


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