IfL council votes in favour of closing and takeover by ETF

The Institute for Learning (IfL) is to close and will be taken over by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF).

The move follows a vote this afternoon by the IFL’s advisory council on whether to disband and pass its legacy and assets to the ETF through a deed of gift.

The process is expected to be completed in the autumn and comes despite a last-ditch plea from former IFL deputy chief executive Lee Davies, currently chief executive at The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, for the body to remain independent.

The move was recommended by IfL’s non-executive board at the beginning of the month. The proposal was announced at the beginning of the month and was triggered by fears the 33,500-member IfL did not have enough cash to keep going. It has seen huge numbers of members desert in the face of increasing membership fees in response to government funding being withdrawn.

Sue Crowley, IfL elected chair, said: “The decision to close IfL was taken only after all other avenues had been exhausted. It was not taken lightly.

“We share the disappointment felt by many of those who have shown their commitment to IfL as the professional body, but are confident that this is a positive decision for IfL, which has chosen this outcome and will control the process to manage the creation of this legacy.

“We would like to thank members of the advisory council — who as volunteers have given very generously of their time and effort to represent IfL members and fellows — for taking the time to understand the implications, and for voting on a course of action that will allow the most valued aspects of IfL’s offer to be preserved in the form of a legacy for teachers and trainers.

“We are very proud of IfL’s achievements, which included ensuring that the voices of teachers and trainers were heard, and leading a successful campaign for Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status, conferred by IfL, to be recognised in law as equal to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) for teaching in schools.

“IfL’s description of teachers as ‘dual professionals’ — experts in their vocational or subject field as well as in teaching and learning — has been adopted in debates and reports about vocational pedagogy, and much has been achieved too in the areas of practitioner research and sharing of continuing professional development (CPD).

“It is vital that teachers and trainers in FE and skills should have a strong voice and I hope that IfL members will take the opportunity to help shape their future professional membership body and ensure that their experience and expertise translates into continuing improvements in teaching and learning.

“We look forward to working with the ETF in making sure that the new arrangements continue to offer dedicated and committed teachers and trainers the support, advice, recognition and status that they as professionals deserve.”

The proposal had earlier today enjoyed the support of ETF chief executive David Russell, who took to Twitter to post: “Hoping that @IFL_Members Advisory Council will choose to join forces with @E_T_Foundation today — we would evolve and strengthen as a result.” The ETF is yet to comment on the result of the vote.

Members of IFL who had renewed their membership until March 31 next year are expected to become part of the ETF’s professional membership.

IfL chief executive Dr Jean Kelly said: “There is a great deal of work to be done in the coming months, as we undertake the process of closing IfL’s operations and transferring our legacy.

“This process will be conducted thoroughly and diligently, with the foundation, and always with the best interests of members at heart. IfL will continue to offer member services as normal through the summer and early autumn, and to support and communicate with members as we prepare for the handover.

“I would like to thank members for their continued support at a challenging time, and IfL’s small team of staff for all their hard work to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible.”