Labour pledge could cause teacher supply crisis

Labour manifesto pledge: Set a target that all FE teaching staff have a teaching qualification within five years

Malcolm Trobe argues AGAINST

Labour’s pledge “for all FE teaching staff to have a teaching qualification within five years” is lacking in detail. Does it mean that people must have a teaching qualification within five years of starting, or that all FE teachers must be qualified by 2022?

If they mean the former, this already happens widely across the sector. If it means the latter, to maintain a system of universal qualification, it would be necessary to require FE colleges to accept only teachers who had already attained a teaching qualification, meaning the end of in-service training and potentially a teacher supply crisis.

READ MORE: Sally Hunt argues FOR the pledge

Many college teachers come from industry backgrounds because they have technical skills and experience. They are often in their 30s, 40s and 50s and few are in a position or have the inclination, to pay for full-time teacher training courses.

In order to avoid a collapse in the teacher supply line, the government would have to introduce grants, loans or both, to fund course fees and maintenance costs. Perhaps this is what Labour means in its manifesto when it says that its commitment would be “backed up by funding”.

However, even if this pledge is unclear, the general direction of Labour’s manifesto on post-16 education is welcome. It promises to “correct historic neglect of the FE sector” and says it would bring funding for 16- to 18-year-olds in line with key stage 4 baselines as well as committing to a range of other measures. We are sure that the last thing it intends is to accidentally precipitate a teacher supply crisis in a sector it wants to boost.


Malcom Trobe is deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders

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