Coombe Lodge Further Education Staff College (FESC) records

Scope and Content

The collection consists of -

- an incomplete set of minutes of the College's Governing Body and committees with associated agenda papers

- material from two research projects on work based learning which the College undertook for the Manpower Services Commission in the 1980s

- historical material relating to the establishment of the college, key policy documents relating to its development, press cuttings and promotional material

- black and white photographs of the Coombe Lodge buildings and the individuals involved at the inception of the College

Administrative / Biographical History

The idea for a residential college offering management courses for senior staff in further education came from a recommendation of the Report of a Special Committee on the Supply and Training of Teachers of Technical Colleges, (the Willis Jackson report), commissioned by the Minister of Education and published in 1957.

The college became a reality when industrial and commercial companies, canvassed by Sir Alexander Flett (later Lord Flett), contributed in excess of £100,000 to meet the start up costs with the Ministry of Education pledging an annual grant towards running costs.

The purpose of the college was to provide a suitable environment in which senior staff from the colleges, industry and commerce, the universities and other associated fields could exchange information, ideas and experience through direct contact and personal discussion. Lectures and other types of formal instruction did form part of the programme but the emphasis was on mutual aid. The ultimate aim was to improve the effectiveness of technical college administration and teaching and to raise the standing of this branch of the teaching profession.

The Board of Governors was constituted in August 1960, chaired by Lord Flett, a Deed of Trust was signed on 15th November 1960 and the first director, WJ Richards, was appointed on 1st August 1961.

Suitable premises were acquired in the form of Coombe Lodge, a former country house in Blagdon Village near Bristol, and The Further Education Staff College (FESC) opened in March 1963.

In 1995 the college merged with the Further Education Unit to become the Further Education Development Agency (FEDA) which continued to operate from Coombe Lodge. When FEDA in turn went on to become the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) in 2000 the lease for the Coombe Lodge building was taken over by a consortium of consultants Coombe Lodge Integrated Management and Education Services Ltd (CLIMES). That company went into voluntary liquidation in 2009.

Responsibility for the sector later passed from LSDA to the Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) (2006-2008) and then to the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) in 2008.

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