Earlier this month I came across the New Year’s Day cover of the Times from this year which stated that “Britain was entering 2020 with a newfound sense of optimism.” How wrong that headline would ultimately prove to be, as, in a matter of weeks, a pandemic was to spread across the globe bringing 2 national lockdowns with it in the UK, severe restrictions on business and civil liberties and huge operational challenges for learning providers. I know from talking to many of you over the last 9 months that you have very much been in the front line and a number of you also contracted, and thankfully, recovered from Covid.
Challenges and change
What has impressed me, when speaking to you over the last nine months, is how learning providers have responded to the constant challenges brought about by Covid. In many respects, the pandemic has shown the strengths of the sector and individual learning providers. You have played a critical role in protecting the welfare of many of our learners by providing wrap around and pastoral care during the lockdowns and then by providing a Covid secure environment for learning when providers re-opened learning centres. Feedback from Public Health colleagues and yourselves suggests that the sector has been hugely successful in reducing the transmission of Covid and keeping learners healthy. Equally, the pandemic has shown has committed providers are to providing a quality learning experience and just how agile, dynamic and responsive the sector can be, embracing and implementing change quickly in order to continue delivering learning.
Well, what does the New Year hold for us? I am not going to make any grand predictions despite having read “Super Forecasting” during lockdown. However, I am sure that it will continue to throw up challenges but equally opportunities including consultations on ineligible costs and re-rating of Standards, the new National Skills Fund and tendering of 16-18 Traineeships and national AEB programmes.
It’s good to talk
GMLPF will work with you to navigate those and will remain accessible to you all. One of the positives I will take from this year is just how much more personal contact I have had with most of you and how I have been able to help you. It is good to talk and I think that I have spoken to most of you more than I would have done in any given “normal” year although I hope phone calls will soon translate to more visits and face to face meetings. I have also been touched by the positive feedback I have received from you suggesting that GMLPF got the balance of support and contact that we offer members right throughout the pandemic.
At this point, as we approach Christmas I’d like to thank you for your continued membership and support and would like to wish you, your families and colleagues a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and, critically, a safe holiday period. I would also like to thank the Board members of the Federation who have continued to support me throughout this year and Pavlina Kiakides and Jan Agger who have helped keep GMLPF and myself going throughout the pandemic.
Once again Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.