Mark and Roger Dawe: Big guns who see eye to eye on FE’s future

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Having spent their careers in leading roles within the further education sector, this father and son discuss policy change and the secrets of harmony.

When Mark Dawe was head of corporate services at Canterbury College in 1996, he was none too pleased to get a letter from the government ending the glorious years of ever-increasing further education expenditure.

To add insult to injury, the letter Mark stared at in amazement was signed by none other than his father, Roger Dawe, who just happened to be director general for FE and higher education at the Department for Education.

Two years earlier, funding chiefs had come up with the “demand-led element” (DLE) to provide unlimited expansion for cost-efficient colleges. The cap on student numbers was removed for colleges able to recruit students beyond agreed targets at half the cost.

However, college use of the DLE was too successful, pushing the fund close to “bankruptcy” and provoking Treasury officials to pull the plug without warning. Not that Mark blames his dad for the fiasco. As Roger told Tes earlier this month: “No chance there of me changing the policy, as the Treasury were not too keen on the flow of money involved.”

And now, 20 years later, as post-crash austerity cuts do their worst, we find the two Dawes still in key positions of influence. Only now, they are definitely singing from the same hymn sheet: Mark, as chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, and Roger as the newly appointed chairman of the Careers Colleges Trust.

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