For over 100 years, emfec has worked to support colleges, providers, and partners within the further education and skills sector.
From humble beginnings in 1912, emfec began as the East Midlands Education Union (EMEU), formed as a direct response to the National Board of Education’s withdrawal of Science examinations in 1899. Despite opposition from the Board of Education, the examinations were re-established. This victory was the first of many accomplishments, demonstrating how a collective voice can affect positive change in the interest of learners.
As the sector continued to evolve, in 1946 the Ministry of Education proposed that further education be organised on a regional basis. Regional Advisory Councils created a collective voice for local education authorities, universities, technical colleges, and representatives from industry and commerce. The East Midlands Council became known as the “Regional Advisory Council for the Organisation of Further Education in the East Midlands (RACOFEEM). Early priorities included encouraging tutors to return to their respective industries for up to six months to gain experience of the latest working practices, and developing Bachelor of Technology degrees to be awarded by technical colleges.
By 1970, EMEU had grown to set nearly 500 written examinations, receiving 67,000 subject entries. It was also working closely with City & Guilds in providing examinations for national Craft and Technician courses which would now be recognised as apprenticeships.
EMEU and RACOFEEM continued their work until 1982, when Local Education Authorities were faced with increasingly tightening budgets. As a result, the activities of EMEU as an examining body and RACOFEEM as a planning and organising body combined to create what we now know as emfec.
On 1 January 1992, emfec began trading as a company limited by guarantee, whilst retaining its charitable status. On the national stage, the Incorporation of Colleges had seen the removal of further, tertiary and sixth form colleges from local authority control, giving them ﬁnancial independence. As a member-led organisation, emfec was now free to provide its services directly to the newly-independent sector.
After celebrating its Centennial Year in 2012, emfec has continued to respond to member and stakeholder needs and has continually reviewed its portfolio of services. At the heart of this mission, emfec has grown to develop project and international work, particularly through collaborations and partnership arrangements.
emfec formed as The East Midland Educational Union (EMEU) as a direct response to the withdrawal of science examinations in 1899. Despite hostility, the collective voice of the EMEU succeeded in getting the examinations re-established, with 852 entries recorded in 1912.
Regional Advisory Councils were established. The East Midlands Council became known as the Regional Advisory Council for the Organisation of Further Education in the East Midlands (RACOFEEM).
Robins Wood House was established at the base for EMEU, RACOFEEM, and the East Midlands Regional Examinations Board. The latter still has a presence in the building as Cambridge Assessment.
By 1970, EMEU was setting nearly 500 written examinations and receiving 67,000 subject entries. It was also working closely with City and Guilds on what would today be known as apprenticeships.
As Local Education Authorities’ budgets began to tighten, it was decided to combine the activities of EMEU and RACOFEEM to create what we now know as emfec.
On 1 January 1992, emfec began trading as a company limited by guarantee, whilst retaining its charitable status. As a member-led organisation, emfec was now free to provide its services directly to the newly-independent sector.
ABC Awards was formed as a national awarding body as a joint partnership between emfec, CENTRA, SRCET (now AOSEC) and SWAFET (now Learning South West). Today, ABC has over 600 Ofqual-regulated qualifications within its portfolio, many of its staff based at Robins Wood House.
emfec began a major refurbishment programme at Robins Wood House, extending the facilities for skills and knowledge development within the region.
A review of the organisation in 2011 resulted in a new strategic plan focused on positioning emfec to support the development and achievement of excellence in the further education sector. Paul Eeles was appointed as Chief Executive of emfec group, incorporating ABC Awards.
emfec celebrated its Centennial year. Its Centenary Conference featured prominent figures from across FE, including the then Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, John Hayes MP.
Linda Houtby, Chief Executive of Grantham College, became Chair of emfec group after John Allen, who served on the Board for six years stepped down, following his retirement as Principal and Chief Executive of Lincoln College.
2015 and beyond - emfec continues to respond to member and stakeholder needs, regularly reviewing its portfolio of services. At the heart of this is professional services to support and develop staff in the wider further education sector and project and international work particularly through collaboration and partnership arrangement.