AoC stands firm over unqualified lecturers

The Association of Colleges (AoC) maintained its support for allowing member colleges to recruit unqualified lecturers, despite some college principals and other senior leaders joining a campaign to reverse the government policy.

The Further Education Teachers’ (England) Regulations 2007 requirement for teaching qualifications was scrapped under legislation published by the government in August.

The AoC has told FE Week it is standing by the reforms, despite widespread criticism from politicians and sector heads in the last week.

An AoC spokesperson said: “It is appropriate that the type and level of qualification for different staff should be determined by the college.

“Like universities, colleges can be trusted to appoint the right staff and support their professional development to meet the changing needs of learners.”

Deregulation was heavily criticised in a letter sent by senior FE figures to the Daily Telegraph, ahead of a debate in the House of Commons over whether teachers should be qualified.

They stated: “We believe standards in FE, as well as in schools, are threatened by the absence of a national policy for trained and qualified teachers and trainers.

“The government’s role is to safeguard standards of education for young people, and having well-trained and highly-qualified teachers in schools and further education colleges is vital for doing this.”

The letter was signed by Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of the Institute for Learning, Joe Vinson, vice president FE of the National Union of Students, Professor Chris Husbands, director of the Institute of Education, and Alison Boulton, chief executive of the Association of National Specialist Colleges.

Also Maria Chambers, vice-chair of Natspec and principal of Beaumont College, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Sue Crowley, chair of the Institute for Learning, Stephen Grix, chief executive of MidKent College, and Paula Jones, chief executive of Learning South West.

Other people to sign included Stella Mbubaegbu, principal of Highbury College, Penny Petch, head of teaching and learning development at Chelmsford College, Marion Plant, principal of North Warwickshire and Hinckley College, Sue Rimmer, principal of South Thames College, and Kathryn Rudd, chair of Natspec and principal of National Star College.

In the Commons debate on October 30, Nic Dakin, Labour MP for Scunthorpe, said: “All my experience tells me there are only two things that really matter in running schools and colleges — the quality of leadership and the quality of teaching and learning.

“A profession has proper structures for training, qualifications and professional development. That is the framework that delivers high-quality individuals.”

But Education Secretary Michael Gove insisted the quality of teaching would be maintained through tougher standards enforced by Ofsted.

He said: “We got rid of the fuzzy standards that used to prevail under the previous government and we have drawn up new, professional standards.”