The Department for Education (DfE) has announced £14 million to provide mentoring for new FE teachers as well as a support programme for leaders and governors over the next two years.
The DfE has signed a two-year deal with Cognition Education to deliver a teacher mentoring programme for the FE sector, which will run until the end of March 2025.
The contract is worth up to £4.2 million – £1.2 million for the contract itself and £3 million of grant funding for eligible FE providers to boost sector engagement with the mentor training programme and fund extra mentoring hours.
The programme had previously been run by the Education and Training Foundation from 2020 to 2023, but in spring last year the charity announced that the DfE had slashed some of its grant funding, estimated to be around 15 per cent.
It left expectations that some of its programmes may be re-tendered.
However, the second contract the DfE has announced today has been awarded to ETF for continuous professional development supporting leadership and governance in the sector.
It is a programme the ETF has already been delivering in previous years with other sector bodies.
Robert Halfon, minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education, said: “With more and more fantastic technical training offers being rolled out, including apprenticeships, T Levels and skills bootcamps, it is vital that we support FE teachers to deliver top class education and training.”
The teacher mentoring scheme will have a focus on helping early career teachers in the FE sector with mentoring in recognition of the extra support needed in the first few years of teaching.
The measure comes off the back of the Skills Bill, with the Skills for Jobs white paper in January 2021 explaining that “to deliver high-quality teaching, professional development must continue throughout an individual’s career”.
In the white paper, the government pledged to “take a more active role to support the sector”, and added: “We will provide effective support to new teachers moving into the sector by continuing to enable access to mentoring.”
According to the DfE, around 2,000 FE workers had undertaken training or professional development under the programme when it was run by ETF, meaning around 6,000 people have benefitted from access to a skilled mentor.
Training and development of a minimum of 600 mentors has been targeted for the new two year contract for Cognition Education, which will enable around 1,800 early career teachers to benefit from a mentor.
Cognition Education is a global education consultancy organisation founded in New Zealand, and has been operating since 1989.
Tracey Newman, UK managing director at Cognition Education said: “The support this contract offers to new FE teaching staff is invaluable and we are proud to be able to assist in the delivery of the programme to the FE sector with the teaching skills, subject knowledge and confidence they need for the benefit of their learners.”
The leadership and governance programme secured once again by ETF aims to strengthen FE leadership teams, support the growth of leadership pipelines and bolster improvement in the sector.
The DfE said it anticipates that more than 5,500 people in leadership and governance roles are set to benefit from the £9.55 million two-year programme.
The ETF is jointly owned by the Association of Colleges, HOLEX and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers.
AELP walked away from the organisation in 2018, claiming that it was “no longer an organisation run by the FE sector for the sector”, but re-joined in the last year.
Dr Katerina Kolyva joined as chief executive in February, and recently told FE Week of her ambitions to diversify income, bolster global opportunities and address issues such as sector recruitment and retention, austerity, sustainability and green skills.
On today’s announcement, Kolyva said the organisation was “delighted to continue the growth of professionalism across the FE sector”.
Kolyva added: “Effective leadership and governance are crucial to enable the sector to thrive and we welcome the opportunity to work closely with our sector partners to deliver this ambitious programme of support to existing and aspiring leaders and governors across the sector.”