Seven-year wait for new FE and skills professional teaching standards is over

New guidelines for FE and skills teachers, lecturers and trainers have been issued by the Education and Training Foundation.

A list of 20 “professional standards” — the first since 2007 — fills one side of A4, separated into three headings of values and attributes, knowledge and understanding, and skills.

Among the professional practices listed are “evaluate and challenge your practice, values and beliefs”, “manage and promote positive learner behaviour” and “contribute to organisational development and quality improvement through collaboration with others”.

The list is accompanied by a 22-page guidance document that aims to offer practical examples of how the standards can be applied.

Helen Pettifor, foundation director of professional standards and workforce development, described the standards as “a major milestone for our sector”.

She said: “By working with the whole sector to establish a consistent benchmark as to what constitutes effective practice, we have produced an aspirational set of standards that both unite the sector in the drive for professionalism and excellence, but succeed in being flexible enough to be fully relevant and applicable to whatever part of the sector you’re teaching in.”

Nearly 1,000 sector professionals were involved in the seven-month process of drawing up the standards, which was conducted on behalf of the foundation by Pye Tait Consulting through consultation events, in-depth interviews and an online survey.

The resulting standards replace those issued by Lifelong Learning UK in 2007, and Ofsted, which was involved in the review for the new standards, said they would be used as part of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and FE and skills inspections.

Marina Gaze, deputy director of FE and skills at Ofsted, said: “To evaluate outcomes inspectors look at completion and employment rates, how well trainees and former trainees teach and how well they attain in relation to the relevant professional standards.

“The 2014 professional standards will replace the 2007 overarching standards in terms of ITE inspections.

“When making judgements about the quality of training on ITE inspections inspectors will look at how the 2014 standards are used with trainees to provide feedback and developmental targets.

“Inspectors will also consider the success of leaders and managers in preparing trainees to meet the 2014 standards.”

Dereth Wood, chair of the foundation’s professional standards steering group, said: “Vocational teaching, learning and assessment has always been a sophisticated professional occupation but in the contemporary world, with rapid change in the workplace, and increasing use of technology for teaching and learning, the need for teachers and trainers to continue to refine and develop their skills is even greater.

“There is a real opportunity for the new professional standards to provide a framework for teachers and trainers to take responsibility for their own professional learning.”

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: “The launch of the 2014 standards will play a key role in helping leaders, managers and teachers to improve the quality of their offering for the benefit of learners, employers and the wider economy.”

Institute for Learning chief executive Dr Jean Kelly said: “Presented simply on a single sheet of A4 paper under three headings, the standards summarise the expectations that teachers and trainers set for themselves. Rather than being prescriptive, they offer a framework for teachers and trainers to evaluate and develop their practice, collaborating and sharing with peers.

“The standards provide an excellent foundation for professional conversations about learning and development, and recognise the value of teachers and trainers being able to use their judgement and exercise professional autonomy, to ensure the best outcomes for learners.”

Stella Turner, head of qualifications and delivery at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said: “We were involved in producing these standards and wanted to make sure they were relevant to the independent learning sector. We think this has been achieved and the standards are going to be really useful.”

A spokesperson for the foundation said that once teachers, trainers, leaders and managers had started using the new standards, case studies of their use would be produced in spring next year and the guidance would also be updated.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “ATL welcomes the foundation’s publication of new professional standards for teachers and trainers working in the FE and skills sector.”

She added: “It is important that FE and skills teachers and trainers are recognised as professionals who use research and evidence to improve how they teach and are encouraged to take part in professional training throughout their careers — which these standards both encourage and promote.

“It is particularly encouraging that autonomy and trust in teachers in the FE and skills sector are endorsed in the standards. And we look forward to seeing how colleges incorporate these standards into the working lives of our members.”

The Association of Colleges declined to comment.