Removal of FE teacher qualifications requirement causes sector concern

Sector leaders have expressed “deep concerns” over news FE trainers will no longer need a teacher training qualification from next month.

The Further Education Teachers’ (England) Regulations 2007 requirement for teaching qualifications is being scrapped under new legislation published by the government on August 9.

Representatives of the Institute for Learning (IfL), the University and College Union (UCU) and the National Union of Students’ (NUS) all spoke out after the IfL published a 48-page booklet today: Should Teaching Qualifications be Left to Chance?

Toni Fazaeli, IfL chief executive, said: “We are deeply concerned about the possible impact of removing the need for teachers in our sector to have teaching qualifications, given their responsibility to serve a vast and diverse group of young and adult learners, including some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“We believe that tomorrow’s engineers, accountants, technicians, mechanics, plumbers, chefs and healthcare workers should be taught by teachers who know their specialist subject well and have been through initial teacher training to ensure that they have the right teaching skills too.”

Barry Lovejoy, UCU’s head of further education, said the union would continue to push the government to ensure that newly-appointed lecturers had to have teaching qualifications.

“We are disappointed that the government appears to believe it is acceptable for lecturers to teach students without having a recognised qualification,” he said.

“We shall be pressing the case for all lecturers in our colleges to remain fully-qualified professionals.”

The IfL publication includes 14 articles which further speak out against the move, from contributors including Norman Crowther, national official for post 16 education at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers; Jayne Stigger, head of maths and science at North East Surrey College of Technology; Sue Rimmer, principal at South Thames College; and, Mike Hopkins, principal at Middlesbrough College.

Joe Vinson, vice-president (further education) of the NUS and also a contributor to the publication, said: “Further education supports so many different types of students, with different backgrounds, different levels of ability and different needs.

“To have someone at the front of a workshop or classroom with no quantifiable or standardised way of supporting a diverse group of students is a disservice to the students themselves, the college and the community they serve.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the Education and Training Foundation was “in place and developing a firm foundation for the self-regulation of the profession”.

“The foundation’s aim is to develop a well-qualified, effective and up-to-date professional workforce, supported by good leadership, management and governance,” he said.

“It will define and promote professionalism in the sector and ensure the availability, scope and quality of initial teacher training. It is for individual institutions to decide what teaching qualifications are appropriate for their particular situation.”

He added: “The highest quality of teaching is paramount to the success of each college and we trust FE institutions to employ those they believe to be best qualified for the job.”

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  1. Ian Pryce

    20 years of independence yet we are still so insecure about the value of professionalism that we crave the protection of big government? It is immature and unnecessary. Government licences providers of education, parliament via Ofsted inspects us. The necessary accountability/protection is in place. We should welcome the freedom to self-regulate and determine what professionalism means. 100% of colleges have professional accountants, it used to be 0%. Colleges increasingly employ professional marketing, IT, HR and Estates staff not because of government diktat, or because they are cheap, but because they are good value. The trend to professionalise will continue. Only the most short sighted leader would employ professional HR but unprofessional teachers. If such people exist then it is for us to sort them out, not government. That is our challenge. But it is also a challenge to teachers too. They have to show the professional premium is good value for money, just as the Finance Directors and IT Directors do. I’d be amazed if they weren’t up to the task. By doing so the sector will be stronger and more mature.

    • Hi Ian, Please clarify who you mean by ‘we’ as in ‘the value of professionalism WE crave’ and ‘WE should welcome the freedom to self-regulate’? It clearly doesn’t include my fellow teachers or I, who are referred to as ‘they’. Pronouns can be very revealing. Evidently, the freedoms you seek are freedoms for people like ‘you’. Forgive my skepticism. 20 years of ‘independence’ has seen an erosion of ‘our’ conditions. (Do you recall ELS? And what about trainer posts, pay-bars, increased workloads, unpaid overtime, and so on?) More is needed than far-sighted college ‘leaders’ to protect ‘our’ professionalism. Given recent history in FE, might not ‘we’ need a little protection from ‘you’? This is quite apart from the legitimate expectation that governments set frameworks for professional standards in relation to largely publicly funded education. As a tax-payer funding your probably generous salary, I expect nothing less.

  2. The idea that FE has the maturity to make its own decisions about quality and the qualifications required by teaching staff is fine if one is prepared to accept that FE can be compared to an errant teenager who has now grown up. This is not a meaningful comparison.

    If teachers are to develop and maintain their professionalism, we need the support and protection of a legislative framework. Sadly, college management structures – with a keenly focused eye on the bottom line – are not entirely respectful of pedagogic expertise.

    It is hard to imagine what evidential base would be accepted that qualified teachers are a necessity if students are to benefit from outcomes that do more than hit the bottom line. There is ample, credible and well documented evidence that a regulated sector is an improving sector. Our challenge is working out how to defend the progress we have made.

  3. 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 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.

  4. Penny Petch

    The Lingfield Review emphasised freedom from regulation as a positive thing for employers but paid no attention to a teacher’s freedom to undertake teaching qualifications. Now it is no longer a requirement to be qualified how long before corners are cut. How long before employers are no longer happy to pay towards professionalising their staff?

  5. Surely this is another reinforcement that the world has gone mad. Are we saying goodbye to Ofsted too and all the quality measures, for ensuring that education at whatever age is offering the learner the best opportunity ? Standardisation in education is facilitated by trained teachers singing from the same hymn sheet, understanding theory and pedagogy and putting it into practice.

  6. Bob Cratchit

    I am not particularly fearful for delivery at colleges but what of the other training organisations falling under the FE banner? I do not believe that each and every one of them will put their staff through PTLLS/CTLLS/DTLLS if there is no need to. I work as a subcontractor and the 30% management fee we have to pay nearly cripples us. I won’t ever stop keeping my staff “professional” because it benefits the company and the learner, but others will no doubt be tempted.