Linking London celebrates its 10 year anniversary
The turnout for the evening was tremendous, and we were delighted to welcome both the Master of Birkbeck, David Latchman, and the former Director of HEFCE, John Selby, to speak to our assembled guests.
David praised our Director Sue for her hard work in sustaining the partnership and said how proud he was that Birkbeck have been our host throughout the last decade.
John highlighted the challenges that still face vocational learners today while celebrating the work Linking London has done towards easing their progression to higher education:
“In England, the noun "vocation" and its adjective "vocational" have very different nuances. If you have a "vocation", you have a "calling", originally from God to the priesthood or the religious life…If, however, you take a "vocational course" at school or in a Further Education College , the connotation is quite different; you are learning a "trade", which, in polite society, though I am sure not in this room, is something other people's children do. What a difference the two letters "a" and "l" make!!”
In closing his speech he discussed the achievements of the Linking London partnership over the past decade:
“It clearly demonstrates that there remains a strong desire within a diverse range of 42 partners - universities, colleges and others - that within this increasingly competitive environment, there is still room for and a need for institutions to collaborate in the interests of learners. The organisation has responded creatively and imaginatively to the changing policy environment while remaining true to its original mission and continuing to pursue "improvements in social justice through education"”
Sue herself then said a few words, thanking the partners for their support over the past ten years, and recalling the history of Linking London for the assembled audience. When she first started, Sue had no team and no office – she had to cart her paperwork around Bloomsbury in a plastic bag! Now we are far more comfortably situated and have 5 members of staff, 42 members and 32 associate members.
Helen Kempster from Goldsmiths, University of London won our Linking London quiz and the coveted champagne prize, and our programme highlighted some of our achievements of the past ten year, including:
- 42 partners in the network,
- 53 publications written
- 319 staff development events held
- 4,425 staff members have attended our events
- 250,000 college learner journeys have been tracked.
Sue’s closing remarks sum up our values, victories, and visions for the future best:
“I have been privileged to have been the Director of Linking London for the last ten years. This is an amazing job and an amazing partnership full of brilliant people …. we have learnt and developed together building on the original HEFCE funded project (we have been as small as 24 when we became subscription based and we are at our largest now at 42 with 32 associates) and we are still generating interest from new members. I have always said to the team ‘we are here for as long as we are needed’. We have adapted with our partners to the external context, their internal pressures and the changing policy landscape. For the future we will remain responsive to our collective intent and collaborative will. We are definitely stronger together. It is this ethos, the building of trust and commitment to shared values, the sublimating of our competitive nature in collaboration for the greater good that has to be of benefit to students across London, and which will, I hope, see Linking London last for another ten years”.