Phil Wilkinson, Ascentis CEO, talks about the importance of Colleges Week #LoveOurColleges

Phil is the CEO of Ascentis, a leading Awarding Organisation, with responsibility for corporate performance and strategic development. Phil is also the Chairman of International Dyslexia Learning Solutions Ltd, a subsidiary of Ascentis that provides specialist dyslexia and dyscalculia software to schools in the UK and overseas.

A Member of the Institute of Directors, Phil has a M.Ed in Educational Studies, M.Sc. in Human Biology, and B.Sc (Hons) in Biology, and is a qualified teacher. Following a successful period as a school teacher in two comprehensives, Phil moved into the Further Education Sector, where he developed his career as a Lecturer, a Head of Faculty, and an Assistant Principal at FE colleges in the North West.

Phil is also a member of the Governing Board at Nelson and Colne College and the Chair of the College's Adult Community Learning (ACL) Advisory Board.

1. What does Colleges Week mean to Ascentis?

Colleges Week is a great opportunity for everyone who cares passionately about FE to pull together to highlight the fantastic work done by colleges. 

It's important to remind everyone - from the general public to Government Ministers - hat the FE Sector educates and trains over 2 million people each year. I'm proud that Ascentis is making a useful contribution to this agenda - last year we registered 130,000 people on our range of life-transforming qualifications. I believe that we all need to continue to press for fair funding for the FE sector, with spending per student in FE having fallen by around 12 per cent in real terms since 2010. We can then all work together to enhance social mobility and economic growth for our country.

2. What is your most rewarding experience with a college?

I love attending college events to celebrate the achievements of their learners. It could be an event for learners who have achieved a basic literacy qualification of perhaps for those who have achieved an Access to HE Diploma. Either way, it is wonderful to see the proud learners receive their Ascentis certificates and hear about their future plans.

3. What is the biggest difference between colleges today and when you taught in colleges?

It is almost 25 years since I regularly taught in a college! Technological advancements since that time have resulted in dramatic changes in the way that colleges not only teach courses but also manage enrolments and the whole learner experience. As a lecturer, it was actually easier back then. I had time to prepare my classes, hold tutorials, and visit learners on work-experience placements!

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