What’s next for further education?

*TL;DR? Scroll down to hear our podcast interview with FE Commissioner appointee Shelagh Legrave.

The government’s #backtocollege and #backtoschool campaign, launched on August 26th, has promised a more ‘normal’ experience with restrictions such as bubbles eased and encourages students and staff to get tested to minimise disruption to education over the upcoming term.

At the launch of the campaign Education Secretary Gavin Williamson maintained “[The return to school and college] is the point when our focus can shift away from the disruption of Covid and on to learning, enrichment and recovery.” and Sajid Javid, the Health and Social Care Secretary stated “As students in England prepare to return to school they can look forward to a more normal year”

However, if we’ve learnt anything from the last 20 months, it is that a lot can change in a short amount of time. Rumours of a ‘firebreak’ lockdown and extended October half term have surfaced and been denied by government).

So, with the UK holiday boom of this summer and large-scale events fuelling spikes in transmission rates, should colleges and schools be looking forward to “a more normal year”. Can they? What is ‘normal’ after corona?

We’d love to know your thoughts on developments as they happen. @ us on social media or come join The Possibility Club.

Throughout the pandemic we’ve been asking leaders, thinkers and practitioners from a range of sectors about their experience of lockdown, the impact it’s had on their work and what they envisage the future to be for their sector after corona.

After Corona? Shelagh Legrave on Further Education

In this episode our focus is on the future of FE.

Richard’s special guest was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2021, and she will also be taking up the post of FE Commissioner this autumn – the government’s most senior advisor on Further Education standards, leading a team of 18 experts to boost leadership and governance across England’s post-16 technical education system.

Shelagh Legrave is currently the CEO of the Chichester College Group – one of the UK’s most successful education partnerships, consisting of two large FE colleges, an agricultural college and two sixth form colleges as well as a programme of education for residents of the Falkland Islands. Under Shelagh’s leadership, the institution has been ranked Ofsted’s highest grade of ‘Outstanding’ since 2014.

We caught up with Shelagh at the end of April, and we talked about leadership and reform, the new FE white paper and the role of technical education and college groups in the post covid-19 landscape.

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Different perspectives on the future of education

// Martin Doel CBE on whether ‘further education’ has any meaning

Richard and Martin spoke in late April 2018. They explored what further education actually means, the changing relationship between business and education and whether the conversation we’re having about skills and life-long learning is the right one.

(30 minute listen)

// Declan Cassidy – Into Games

always possible associate and Into Games CEO Declan Cassidy speaks about his ground-breaking games careers initiative.

 (18 minute watch)

// USP College: co-designing science and creativity careers

Richard Freeman talks to Olivia Suleman about the changing attitudes to further education and the skills agenda, and the opportunities and challenges for young people and adults considering careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

(25 minute listen)

// After Corona? Education

During the first wave of the pandemic we called out for lecturers, pre-school experts, learning mentors and education and youth work researchers to give us their personal insights into education during the time of Covid.

 (44 minute listen)

Further Education in the spotlight

The always possible team work in collaboration with organisations across the UK to build a workforce with skills, aspiration and inclusive opportunity.


The always possible team recently worked with The Careers & Enterprise Company to launch a new campaign to recruit business leaders to work closely with schools and colleges.

>> click to find out whether the campaign has been a success

Essex 2020: Talent>>Forward

Did you catch our unique online careers event from last year – getting Essex’s young people thinking about how creativity and curiosity can lead to a dream career in STEAM industries? The day featured speakers from across further education, business, charitable organisations and apprenticeships.

>> click to see presentations from Amazon and the NHS

Sector Skills Taskgroups

For over four years, we have been helping to establish, build and then enhance a number of working taskgroups in East Sussex, bringing together leaders from business, FE, HE, local government and the voluntary sector. This has helped put East Sussex on the map as a flagship region for careers investment, leveraging £millions of inward investment in facilities, research, campaigns and training..

>> click to read a one-minute case study