From education to employment

IfL responds to professionalism in FE debate

Following the last of the reviews by the independent panel regarding ‘Professionalism in Further Education,’ the Institute for Learning (IfL) has praised its members for their responses to the important issue of professional identity.

Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of IfL, said: “At a time of great change in our sector, IfL’s role as the independent professional body, with more than 75,000 voluntary members and growing daily, is to ensure continued support for professionalism, professional development and the creation of conditions that enable great teaching and learning to flourish.”

Throughout the numerous changes to FE this year, not least in vocational training and examinations, there has been some concern for the levels of expertise in the field and the availability of training.

“We believe that teaching and training must be a high-status profession and attract high-calibre individuals, and that there must be robust initial teacher training so that subject or vocational experts rapidly become expert teachers or trainers too. Every learner deserves this,” explained Fazaeli.

Amidst investigations into exam grading, which have rocked confidences throughout the sector, teachers are naturally concerned for the direction that teaching methods are heading, and how to maintain quality control throughout these changes. IfL members have therefore called for a recognisable professional identity across FE and skills.

Fazaeli agreed that teachers and trainers needed greater flexibility “to explore and make a creative and innovative contribution to professional excellence”. She calls this freedom, “exercising professional autonomy”, which would give teachers the right to spearhead their own research rather than communicating reactively with their employers.

“While leaders and managers have a responsibility to promote a collaborative culture, it is far too limiting to think that staff training, professional updating and behaviour are purely matters between employer and employee,” she said.

After conducting an internal survey of its members, IfL found that the majority of teachers associate professionalism with the requirement to hold a professional qualification, and to stay up to date with teaching methods and industry practice.

The popularity of this opinion was demonstrated when The University of Oxford found its ‘Practitioner Researcher Programme’ vastly oversubscribed. The programme focuses on the development of research and publication skills to improve the standards of teaching and training practice. Through constant research and training, the IfL said its members believe teachers will be able to greatly improve and stay at the cutting edge of education.

With the prospect of further government changes to entire course structures in FE, teachers are increasingly looking towards independent institutions such as the IfL for the ability to voice their concerns.

Daisy Atkinson

(Pictured: IfL CEO Toni Fazaeli)

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