Government review into IfL effectiveness

The government is to hold an independent review into workforce professionalisation, including the effectiveness of the Institute for Learning (IfL).

John Hayes MP, minister for education, skills and lifelong learning, said the broad review would look at arrangements to achieve a professionalised workforce in further education, while also looking at the role of the IfL.

However, it would only be commissioned once parties agree to refrain from seeking legal action in the aftermath of the dispute over memberships IfL fees.

The organisation had sought to introduce a fee for its membership, which is compulsory for teachers in adult and further education.

However, members of the University and College Union (UCU) voted in the summer overwhelmingly to stop paying fees to the IfL, which the union believes is currently “not fit for purpose”, and threatened legal action.

In response to the announcement of the review, the UCU has now “suspended” its legal threat to the IfL.

Mr Hayes said: “I am pleased to hear… a basis has been proposed on which constructive discussions can be resumed and legal action suspended, and I want to do all that I can to help find a solution that is in the best, longer term interests of those who are served by the sector and those who work within it.”

He added: “I am happy to confirm my willingness to commission an independent review that would look broadly at the arrangements for achieving a professionalised workforce and how this is facilitated by the Institute for Learning and other partners in delivering the regulations and other policy initiatives aimed at supporting a professional workforce.”

UCU has welcomed the review and its general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “As the result from our recent ballot made abundantly clear, the current arrangements are simply not up to scratch.

“Boycotting the IfL has not been a decision our members have taken lightly, but to be effective as a professional body it must enjoy the confidence of the majority of practitioners.

“It is essential the review does not shy away from asking awkward questions and it hears directly from staff.”

IfL’s chief executive, Toni Fazaeli, said they would look to the review to promote the professional interests of teachers and trainers.

She added: “IfL welcomes an independent review of workforce professionalisation in the further education and skills sector, to assess and acknowledge the contributions already being made by IfL and other partners, and to recommend ways of building on what has been achieved so far.

“We look forward to working with all the parties involved to establish the terms of reference for this broad inquiry.”

However, no date for the review has been set thus far and a further discussion on its terms of reference is due to be held soon.

Mr Hayes said: “My aim would be to commission this review as soon as possible.”