IFST's Education Forum: ‘Education challenges for the UK food industry' (2015)

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IFST's Education Forum on 10th September 2015 brought together an invited audience of over 50 opinion formers from across the UK, including senior food industry representatives, education and training specialists and representatives from the public sector. The Forum was chaired by Prof Steven Walker, Director General of Campden BRI.

The comparability and portability of qualifications for 16-19 year olds across the UK are important issues for employers, universities and students alike. Recent years have seen huge changes in the education sector. These have taken place against a background of further devolution of education policy and management to the four home nations. There have already been major changes to GCSE and A levels, vocational qualifications, including the introduction of modern apprenticeships and more changes are proposed.

The Forum programme included presentations from leading specialists and policy makers, and round table discussions provided attendees with the opportunity to debate how these changes may affect the long term future supply of new talent into the UK food sector, the major challenges posed and what action could be taken to address these.


John Allan, Policy Manager for Curriculum for Excellence, Scottish Qualifications Authority

He has a Masters and Doctoral degree from the University of Edinburgh. His Doctoral thesis was on assessment in vocational education.He has over 3 decades of experience in education in schools and colleges. He was a college Vice Principal before moving to SQA in 2005.At SQA, his experience includes curriculum development and the design of qualification and assessment systems. He is currently supporting the development of assessment policy for new National Qualifications which are part of the Curriculum for Excellence programme in Scotland. Prior to that he led on the development of SQA vocational qualifications and teacher training programmes in Universities in PR China.

View John Allan's presentation - Curriculum for Excellence: new qualifications in Scotland

Simon Banks, Senior Manager – Standards, Ofqual

Simon Banks managed the development and delivered qualifications for the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) Examinations Board, and for 15 years was a senior manager at OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA) Examinations, where his responsibilities included the development and delivery of GCSEs and A levels in a wide range of sectors.  He has spent over 10 years managing the development and delivery of vocational qualifications, and has taught at the University of St Andrews.  He is currently Senior Manager, Standards at Ofqual, the qualifications regulator.

View Simon Banks's presentation - GCSE and A level science qualifications in England

Janette Graham, Group Technical Learning and Development Manager, 2 Sisters Food Group

Janette is currently employed as the Group Technical Learning and Development Manager with  2 Sisters Food Group. She has extensive Learning and Development experience from various industries and has also held similar HR roles within Bakkavor and Baxters Food Group.

In her current role she has introduced talent streams to support the technical function group-wide with the development of individuals through an in-house programme in conjunction with the Company Technical Capability Framework, food technology apprenticeships and more recently through the launch of a Technical Graduate Programme.

Janette is an avid supporter of encouraging new talent into the industry and delivers activities at Summer Schools with Nottingham and Reading Universities.  She is also a member of the Industrial Advisory Board at Reading University and Chair of the Food Science and Technology Trailblazer which has been approved by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills to develop the Level 3 Food Technology Apprentices of the future.

View Janette Graham's presentation - Growing your own technical talent

Gavin Gray, Education Manager, Physics, Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment, Northern Ireland

Gavin currently manages the Single Award Science GCSE, Double Award Science( Physics) GCSE, as well as Physics GCSE/ AS/ A-Level Qualifications for CCEA. As such he has strategic responsibility for the teams which develop the science specifications and their assessment, within CCEA.

Gavin is the current Chairman of Council of the Association for Science Education in the UK, as well as a Chartered Science Teacher( CSciTeach), and member of the Northern Ireland Committee. He is also a member (MInstP) of the Institute of Physics and a Committee member (All Ireland Committee). Gavin also served as a member of the Department for Education advisory BRG group from 2010-2014, and is currently still involved as a critical friend. Gavin is also both a STEMNET ambassador as well as one of the European Scientix Ambassadors for the UK.

View Gavin Gray's presentation - GCSE and A level science qualifications in Ireland

Brendan McDowell, Programme Manager, Northern Ireland Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA)

After a short time in the private sector (banking), Brendan’s career has been spent entirely in the field of education, first as a teacher of English and ICT, then as a Development Manager with the Northern Ireland Council for Integration. He has worked in the area of qualifications and examinations with CCEA since 2000.

View Brendan McDowell's presentation - 14 - 19 education

Jean Scrase, Science & Engineering Education Team, The Gatsby Charitable Foundation

Jean is currently working on projects that support the development of intermediate level STEM skills and technician registration for the Gatsby Education team. Jean studied Applied Biology at Nottingham Trent University and taught in Further Education for ten years. She then co-directed a company supporting applied science and engineering education projects and was Head of Learning at Salisbury Healthcare Trust. Jean has worked on curriculum and professional development projects for the Nuffield Foundation and Gatsby’s Science Enhancement Programme. More recently Jean worked with the Science Council and professional bodies to develop models of employer engagement leading to registration in industry and education.

View Jean Scrase's presentation - Professional recognition

Moira Stalker, National Co-ordinator SFDF Schools Programme, Scottish FDF

Moira is National Co-ordinator for SFDF's Schools Programme, A Future in Food, which is funded by the Scottish Government Food and Drink Division. She works closely with a wide range of additional stakeholders and partners from industry, education and the community to support this activity and to develop and deliver an inspiring programme for thefuture of the food industry. Prior to joining SFDF, Moira worked with Scottish Enterprise's food and drink team. Before that she ran and managed the original Food and Drink Challenge. Moira also spent a number of years working in industry as an Industrial Engineer.

View Moira Stalker's presentation - Current and future skills needs in UK food and drink manufacturing

Derek Williams, Director and Responsible Officer, FDQ

As FDQ’s Director and Responsible Officer for all Awarding Organisation functions, Derek is the authoritative point of contact with Ofqual and other regulatory authorities. Within FDQ he is also the ultimate guardian of standards and compliance in the provision of all FDQ’s vocational qualifications. He has responsibility for the critical areas of compliance, quality assurance, qualification development and validity of assessment.

Derek’s extensive career places him in a unique position in UK skills development. Having worked in the food industry, as well as a range of areas of vocational education over the last 20 years; he has been involved in the full skills development chain from strategic occupational standards and qualifications development right through to operational assessment, provision and inspection. It is a little known fact that he has an enviable 37 years’ experience under his belt in standards and qualification development and delivery, together with some 20 years’ experience in provision quality assurance and inspection. Interestingly he has developed more than 500 qualifications in his lifetime! This breadth and relevance of experience along with Derek’s exacting standards are the reasons why FDQ are pleased to have him leading their team.

View Derek Williams's presentation - Changes and developments in vocational education and training, and apprenticeship, as they relate to the food and drink sector

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