As the government does away with the legal requirement for defined teaching qualifications in FE, Noel Johnson discusses the problems that could arise as a result.

After working so hard over the past 20 years to achieve recognised, legislated professionalism within the post-16 sector, it is disappointing (and worrying) to see government moving away from this.

I fully support the freedoms afforded to our sector through self-regulation, but the imperative for effective, professional teaching and learning must be derived from a clear, mandatory framework followed by all in the sector.

Anything less will negatively impact on future learning and our collective credibility.

Professional teaching and learning must be derived from a clear, mandatory framework followed by all

It was no accident that following the introduction of teaching professionalism in post-16 education and training in 2007, the achievement rates in all programmes under both employer responsive and learner responsive areas increased substantially.

Although I accept that this cannot be attributed solely to the introduction of professional teaching standards, they have played a significant role in increasing post-16 achievement rates, and learner interest, in post-compulsory learning.

I, like many others, have for a long time lobbied for self-regulation and I believe that as a sector we do better understand the needs of our customers, as well as the priorities of our localities, and this has been afforded us through the freedom to manage our contracts, and importantly, our funding.

I do not however, believe that by removing the requirement for legislated professionalism in teaching and learning practice, we will see a continued, disciplined, uniformed, maintenance of these standards within our sector.

As post-16 learning providers, we have, and continue to follow the requirements of the Common Inspection Framework (CIF), regulated through, and inspected by, Ofsted.

This is clearly an essential part of maintaining standards in teaching and learning with heightened importance following the introduction of self-regulation, but we are seeing a clear contradiction in the governments’ direction of travel in relation to teaching.

Within the Common Inspection Framework (CIF) and through Ofsted inspections, the emphasis is clearly targeted on the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning, and the maintenance of good teaching can only be achieved through effective teaching qualifications.

We are, as a sector, quite rightly seeing an increasing independence from government

The Institute for Learning (IFL), established as the professional standards and membership body for our sector, has lost the necessary credibility and membership pull required by a professional organisation, following a period of uncertainty about the future of teacher qualifications, and the government’s recent decision to scrap mandatory teaching qualifications is naïve, and worrying at best, leaving the IfL in a position of increased uncertainty.

We are, as a sector, quite rightly seeing an increasing independence from government in our expertise and ability to support and regenerate our economy, with thousands of employers already benefiting from structured skills training and workforce development.

Through this increase in occupational skills training we are looking to industry experts to provide the necessary delivery.

However, we must accept that industry expertise itself (although essential) is not enough to provide inspiring, articulated, effective teaching.

This skill and ability can only be gained through a clearly defined, legislated, teacher training pathway followed by a programme of regular continued professional development that equates to, and maintains, a teaching professionalism recognised by all in the sector and valued by practitioners.

We have a duty to ensure that we provide the best possible start for everyone on a career pathway and whether a negative, or positive experience, everyone, without exception remembers their last teacher.

It would be remiss of us to offer anything less. Teaching professionalism — don’t give up what we’ve earned.

Noel Johnson, director at Cityworks Training

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