Removal of FE teacher qualifications requirement causes sector concern

Sector leaders have expressed “deep concerns” over news FE trainers will no longer need a teacher training qualification from next month.

The Further Education Teachers’ (England) Regulations 2007 requirement for teaching qualifications is being scrapped under new legislation published by the government on August 9.

Representatives of the Institute for Learning (IfL), the University and College Union (UCU) and the National Union of Students’ (NUS) all spoke out after the IfL published a 48-page booklet today: Should Teaching Qualifications be Left to Chance?

Toni Fazaeli, IfL chief executive, said: “We are deeply concerned about the possible impact of removing the need for teachers in our sector to have teaching qualifications, given their responsibility to serve a vast and diverse group of young and adult learners, including some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“We believe that tomorrow’s engineers, accountants, technicians, mechanics, plumbers, chefs and healthcare workers should be taught by teachers who know their specialist subject well and have been through initial teacher training to ensure that they have the right teaching skills too.”

Barry Lovejoy, UCU’s head of further education, said the union would continue to push the government to ensure that newly-appointed lecturers had to have teaching qualifications.

“We are disappointed that the government appears to believe it is acceptable for lecturers to teach students without having a recognised qualification,” he said.

“We shall be pressing the case for all lecturers in our colleges to remain fully-qualified professionals.”

The IfL publication includes 14 articles which further speak out against the move, from contributors including Norman Crowther, national official for post 16 education at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers; Jayne Stigger, head of maths and science at North East Surrey College of Technology; Sue Rimmer, principal at South Thames College; and, Mike Hopkins, principal at Middlesbrough College.

Joe Vinson, vice-president (further education) of the NUS and also a contributor to the publication, said: “Further education supports so many different types of students, with different backgrounds, different levels of ability and different needs.

“To have someone at the front of a workshop or classroom with no quantifiable or standardised way of supporting a diverse group of students is a disservice to the students themselves, the college and the community they serve.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the Education and Training Foundation was “in place and developing a firm foundation for the self-regulation of the profession”.

“The foundation’s aim is to develop a well-qualified, effective and up-to-date professional workforce, supported by good leadership, management and governance,” he said.

“It will define and promote professionalism in the sector and ensure the availability, scope and quality of initial teacher training. It is for individual institutions to decide what teaching qualifications are appropriate for their particular situation.”

He added: “The highest quality of teaching is paramount to the success of each college and we trust FE institutions to employ those they believe to be best qualified for the job.”