Leadership Insights

Upholding Standards and Driving Excellence: A Deep Dive into Quality and Compliance in Further Education

May 26, 2024

Table of Contents

Lee Dale: Introduction

I have always been passionate about education and the power it has to change a person's life and help them realise their ambitions. I started my career in education with secondary schools as a Teacher. After working on rotation through the local authority in placements, I thoroughly enjoyed and determined that FE, HE and WBL were the sectors I felt most enjoyment working within.

I started my journey in FE working as a technical skills coach and was fortunate enough to develop and be supported in working my way through leadership roles, coovering operations, quality, compliance and supportive provisions.

Why did you choose a career in further education?

I had completed my NQT year as a new teacher and the stars aligned as a job opportunity in FE arose as I was searching for my move into the sector.

Tell us about a notable early experience in your career

Working with a young learner in their first job role, I met with the employer and the learner to discuss career goals and ambition. The employer shared with me their plans to support this learner from their first role as a junior apprentice through to level 7 degree apprenticeship, with a career pathway already paved to support them in moving into executive management within the next decade. It was the first time I had witnessed apprenticeships come to life with a robust strategic workforce development plan and it really excited me.

How have you developed your career as a leader in further education?

As a leader, I have always felt that having strong and robust relationships and networks is the key to success. This has supported me with development, collaboration and troubleshooting throughout my career. Whether that is internal, client based or within the wider sector. Theoretical knowledge will always change and evolve, but the strength of long standing, trustworthy relationships and a good reputation will always preceed you within this sector.

Tell us about some key achievements in your career

I have been a senior leader involved in 3 successful Ofsted inspections, led a compliance team to a 0% error rated audit and produced a Safeguarding function with multiple kite mark awards to its name for exceptional practice. As a result, I have also been sitting as chairperson for the DfE Prevent Network for the previous 2 years.

What have been the biggest challenges you've faced in your career and how did you overcome them?

Like most with any significant time served in FE, the pandemic and the sector response was probably one of the most challenging periods. Having to consider every strategic decision and its impact, in a landscape were uncertainty was rife was difficult.

Once again, the power of network, relationships and connections was key during this period. Being able to draw on others expertise and experience, as well as support eachother in being innovative and agile was key.

What are your thoughts on improving the further education sector?

At a time of economic uncertainty, we need to consider how decisions made by those exiting school and college provisions will likely pave the way for their long time future. An ever growing concern in recent years has surrounded learners who cannot afford to work on apprenticeship minimum wage and opting to leave education to get a full time job without training and development attached. Whilst this benefits them in the short term, economic policy must support learners in making positive decisions for their future and explore avenues of support and encouragement for engagement, so that learners are not exiting provision due to cost and access concerns.

What advice would you give to aspiring leaders in further education?

Never forget what is was like entering further education and your first workplace. Have compassion for learners that need additional support or adjustments to help them move from mainstream education into FE, and consider what advice or support would have helped you at that time.

Find out more

You can find Lee on LinkedIn so connect and follow him there.

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Alex Lockey
Director | Bolt Jobs
Founder Alex Lockey is an expert in further education, learning, and skills sector. He leads cost-effective hiring solutions and is known for successful talent placements. Dynamic and driven, Alex seeks innovative solutions to solve sector hiring challenges.