On May 14, 2024, we hosted our sixth Annual Conference at the Leicester Marriott Hotel. With over 300 delegates in attendance, four sponsors and ten exhibitors, the event included keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and an exhibition.


This year, the focus was on the evolving landscape of further education and the need to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Under the theme “A Vision for the Future,” educators, policymakers, and industry leaders gathered to explore how the sector can adapt to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world.


A Moving Tribute and the launch of our Annual Impact Report


Host Shane Chowen, Editor of FE Week, who has dedicated his career to Further Education and policy and campaigning work in the sector, began the morning by welcoming Skills and Education Group CEO Paul Eeles to the stage.


We began our conference with a moving tribute to Tom Dick-Hamilton, a friend and colleague. Tom served as a trustee of Skills and Education Group and Deputy Principal at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, devoting himself to the further education and skills sector. Paul Eeles said:


“Tom was always there to ensure learners thrived and succeeded. He was a friend to many, always made time to chat, and his smile lit up the room. Today, we recognise Tom’s contribution to FE and Skills by launching the Tom Hamilton-Dick bursary. Learners studying media studies at a member institution can apply for this bursary from September”.


Paul also officially launched our annual impact report, which showcases the great work happening across our organisation and the impact we made in 2022/23.


Thought-provoking Panels

Throughout the day, attendees were inspired by engaging panel discussions. In our first panel our Chief Executive, Paul Eeles, and the Chairs of our charities, Atholl Stott, and Yultan Mellor, shared their vision for Skills and Education Group, as we continue to expand both in the UK and internationally. Paul commented “The challenges of the future are also linked to the political change on the horizon. We are monitoring this closely to ensure that we adapt our offer to suit the needs of the FE sector” whilst Yultan expressed her excitement about the potential of AI and collaborating with partners to provide new, flexible ways of working for students.


We were honoured that The Rt Hon. Baroness Morgan of Cotes chaired the Making Social Mobility Count panel. The panel gave passionate accounts of how Skills and Education Group Foundation Grants have been transformative in improving the social mobility prospects of students and their families, supporting them to build their confidence, succeed, and thrive.


Keynote Address – Is Change on the Horizon?


With the General Election looming, political analyst Ian Dunt offered his insights into the potential opportunities and threats that may arise from the outcome of the election. This session encouraged attendees to consider the implications of political change on the future of education and the importance of staying informed and engaged in shaping policy. So, is change on the Horizon? According to Ian Dunt, the answer is

“Yes! Based on polls, we expect a Labour government that will provide consistency and stability.”



Embracing International Collaboration


Another key theme explored during the conference was the importance of international collaboration in education. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, there is a growing need to learn from and collaborate with partners on a global scale. Our panellists Jonathan Ledger, Dr Reshu Sanan, Dawn Ward, and Melvyn Lees shared their experiences of international collaboration and the benefits it can bring to learners, staff, and communities alike.




Throughout the day, attendees had the opportunity to participate in engaging workshops covering a range of topics, from well-being to funding. These sessions provided valuable insights and practical solutions for educators.


Headline sponsor FE Tech delivered The Future of Curriculum Design workshop, which focused on integrating AI into the classroom. The workshop offered practical tools and solutions to support teachers and learners.


All the workshops were very well attended, with lots of collaboration and learning taking place, and the feedback we’ve received has been incredibly positive.

All that remains is to say a huge thank you to our speakers, panellists, workshop leaders, exhibitors and attendees – we couldn’t do it without you!


Here’s to 2025!

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