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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



Pride in Professionalism - the Education and Training Foundation's first SET Annual Conference

by Steph Taylor
Language: EN

This blog was written by EPALE UK Ambassador Steph Taylor for November’s thematic topic of Adult Learning and Career Development. The first ever SET Annual Conference of the Education and Training Foundation was held at the Vox Conference Centre, Resorts World in Birmingham on 7 November 2018.



Society for Education & Training - Conference 2018 - Birmingham 7th Nov

Pride in Professionalism - supporting excellence in Further Education was the inaugural conference of the SET members from the Education and Training Foundation and a warm welcome awaited more than 300 members at the Vox Conference Centre – a state of the art conference facility at the heart of the NEC complex in Birmingham.

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has a membership section – the Society for Education and Training (SET) – which is a body dedicated to professional working across further education, vocational teaching and training.   It is the professional membership arm of the ETF. SET is the largest membership body in the education sector and growing rapidly with over 17,000 members. 

Membership enquiries can be directed to: Members can apply for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and Advanced Teacher Status (ATS). They get exclusive and unlimited access to a career and research portal as well as an e-learning platform and discounts on the ETF’s range of CPD courses including:


Programme overview

Representatives from the sponsors, media partners and exhibitors were in the foyer area: Skills and Education Group, Tess, HOW2, SAGE Publishing, Creative Education, Medical Mavericks, Teaching Entrepreneur Association, National Education Union and For Skills.

A full programme of speakers, panels and workshops was arranged for the day with a keynote speech from David Russells, CEO of the ETF.


The Workshops

The workshops were streamed in categories being Maths and English, Technical and Vocational Education, Digital Innovation and Pedagogy and Wellbeing and Resilience and SEND, Inclusion and Learning.

In the morning I attended the workshop on Wellbeing and Resilience with a representation from the Education Support Partnership that offers support for Further Education practitioners. It was so sad to hear that so many tutors and staff in education are suffering from depression and other mental health issues.   In fact, one of the participants stood up and said “Go back to your colleges and institutions each and every day - not only be kind to students but also your colleagues as well.”

The afternoon session I attended was SEND Inclusion and Learning Support and we heard about the courses on offer to improve the SEND offer.


The Education Support Partnership – information and help lines

The Education Support Partnership team gave a presentation on how they have help and advice and guidance telephone lines that practitioners can call if they feel stressed or need advice.  See below information from their website:

No matter what you’re going through, we’re always here for you, day or night, all the time. Call us. You'll feel better. 

Whatever you need, we’re here for you 24/7. Our trained counsellors will listen to you without judgement and will help you think through the problems you are facing to find a way forwards and feel better. No issue is too big or too small.

UK-wide: 08000 562 561
Text: 07909 341229

Our helpline is free and available to all teachers, lecturers and staff in education (primary, secondary, further or higher education) in England, Wales and Scotland. We’re here for you 24/7, 365 days a year. Download a poster now for your staffroom! 


What happens when I call?

A member of our friendly support team will find out why you are calling and choose the best person for you to speak to.

Depending on your needs they might:

  • deal with your call personally and offer emotional support straight away
  • offer action plan support (coaching)
  • transfer you to one of our trained and accredited counsellors for counselling
  • connect you to one of our other services such as grants or information
  • Assist with referral for long term treatment (for example, to your GP)



Panel discussions

Two panel discussions were scheduled for the morning and afternoon which included representatives from Ofsted, Life Skills and Community Education, principal of an FE college, Professor from a university – teacher training, Lecturer in the Arts now working at a university in the Netherlands.
Each panel member described their roles and took questions from the audience on What does Excellence look like? and Teaching: Art, Craft or Science.


The panel discussion What does Excellence look like?  was very interesting as views differ to what excellence looks like but it is always being revisited.

The views summarised by the expert panel were:

  • Practitioners should create an inclusive environment
  • Make the studies meaningful
  • Deepening student skills
  • Students should feel psychologically safe
  • Fostering creativity
  • Develop enquiring minds
  • Provide consistency
  • Make a real difference to the student lives
  • The students should be at the forefront of the teaching and learning process
  • Transform societies by empowering students with inspiration teaching and learning.


It was good to hear the panel discussion Teaching: Art, Craft or Science as FE can be dominated by English and Mathematics with little thought to the more practical art, crafts and sciences. Views from the panel were:

  • Art can transform societies by using a freedom of expression
  • Practitioners should use their personal techniques of “things that are good to them” value added to the curriculum
  • Craft – new set of skills
  • Using senses and experiences
  • A quest for certainty
  • Science – broach approach using systemic informed decisions and identify risks
  • Assessment – opening up the curriculum to new ideas
  • Freedom for students to express themselves and explore new alternatives
  • For students to communicate their feelings in a free and open way


Meeting old friends and new

It was good to meet up with colleagues and friends from across further education, many of which I had previously met and shared good practice with on the Education and Training Foundation Research Development Fellowship programme.  This has spurred colleagues to go on to further studies and higher level qualifications and it was interesting to hear their new developments.

Also it was good to see the younger practitioners coming into further education as one of the slides in a presentation showed that the majority of tutors and practitioners were in the age bracket of 50 years plus.


The conference for me was a resounding success with members of the ETF SET coming together to network, peruse the exhibition areas, ask questions of the panels and attend workshops and glean information to take back to their workplaces and resources to use with their students.

It was a conference well worth attending to meet old and new colleagues, find out what is currently on offer from all aspects of further education and from the ETF and really feel as though you are a part of the foundation.

In my teaching and learning I always strive to uphold the professional standards of the ETF and endeavour to ensure my work is of the highest standards.




A photo of EPALE UK Ambassador Steph Taylor.


Steph Taylor., CMgr MCMI., MInstLM., MSET

Steph is an EPALE UK Ambassador with a career of over 40 years spanning the National Health Service, electricity industry, education and training.   More recently 14 years teaching and managing in offender learning, an assessor with a training company on the modern workplace apprentices, cover teaching in secondary schools and a community adult education tutor.

Steph is passionate about lifelong learning and engaging the hard to reach students so that they have the life skills to move forward in their lives.





You may also be interested in:

Become an EPALE UK Amabassador! (blog)

EPALE UK Ambassador Training Day, May 2018 (blog)

Reimagining Further Education Conference on 27 June 2018 (blog)

Collecting impact evidence in Family Learning (blog)

Widening Horizons through EPALE (blog)

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