The government's decision to remove the requirement for teaching qualifications for FE lecturers has been met with alarm by sector leaders who are concerned about the possible impact of this new legislation.
This decision means that candidates with no prior teacher training or professional teaching qualifications could secure lecturing roles in FE colleges without the practical teaching skills.
Arguing that there will be a negative impact on the quality of teaching and professionalism in FE colleges, which will in turn affect the learning experience of students, representatives from the Institute for Learning, the University and College Union and the National Union of Students have all put pressure on the government to reverse the decision.
Should the 2013 A-level results fall in top grades serve as a warning?
The fall in top grades for the second year running, following the recent A-level results, marks a new trend of falling top-level grades.
This trend surely highlights the need for measures to be taken to improve the standard of teaching, rather than the implementation of legislation that could potentially lower standards and further impact exam results and the achievements of students.
Morgan Hunt recruitment agency spoke to some of its clients to get their expert opinion on this new legislation.
Theresa Ann Drowley OBE, Chief Executive, Redbridge College said: "The removal of teacher qualifications will be detrimental to the profession and to learners in colleges. A teacher who goes through the process of gaining teaching qualifications gives reassurance as to the member of staff's ability to write but also shows their ability for research. The new teaching qualifications use various methods of assessment which gives the teacher first-hand experience of the learning and assessment process. This college will continue to require teaching qualifications in our efforts to move the college forward and deliver a quality process."
Lesley Graham, Vice Principal, Curriculum and the Learner Experience, Barking & Dagenham College said: "As a Gazelle College, we consider that students in the sector benefit holistically from T-shaped staff, who combine dual occupational and professional pedagogical depth and expertise, with a breadth of personal attributes and capabilities. A T-shaped skill set in our teachers enables them to better prepare students for work in the 21st century. This was highlighted by the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning (CAVTL) report, It's about work...Excellent adult vocational teaching and learning. Barking & Dagenham College will continue to recruit staff who possess great occupational, personal and professional expertise, and specifically for teaching staff they should have, or be working towards, a relevant, professional teaching qualification."
Jayne Stigger, Head of Maths, Science and H.E at Nescot College (formerly Head of Quality at Basingstoke College of Technology) said: "Qualified teaching staff actively enable the development of the 'whole' student, bringing out their latent talents, motivating and applying specialist techniques to differentiate learning to suit the student. We manage classrooms and identify opportunities for learning, not just deliver a subject. Subject specialist knowledge alone is insufficient.
The removal of the need for qualified staff will actively work towards lowering the standards that FE professionals have worked tirelessly to improve. Students, missing out on an education and receiving only 'training' may leave qualified but not educated to the highest standards, leaving them less employable. Whilst the workforce strives ever harder to become qualified, lecturers are now deemed unworthy of professional status. Is the future generation of students of so little value to this government that they no longer deserve to be taught by professionally qualified staff?"
Counteracting positive impact of 2012 Ofsted changes?
It's feared the removal of the requirement for FE lecturers to have teaching qualifications could potentially negate the positive impact of the 2012 Ofsted changes within the FE sector.
Coming into effect on 1st September 2012, these changes were implemented to provide greater focus on the quality of teaching and learning in colleges as part of Ofsted's 'continued drive on raising standards'. More time is now spent observing lessons and more robust inspection criteria was introduced with the intention of 'supporting head teachers and principals in their work to provide the best possible education for pupils and learners'.
Morgan Hunt's recruitment criteria will not be affected by government decision
To ensure Morgan Hunt continues to supply high calibre candidates to its FE clients, the recruitment agency will not be changing its criteria in regards to recruiting FE lecturers. Morgan Hunt will still require a teaching qualification from all candidates despite the government's decision to remove this as a mandatory requirement for FE lecturers.
Sue Cooper, Director, Education at Morgan Hunt said: "There is a considerable amount of government investment in initiatives to reduce the number of NEET (not in employment, education or training) young people and increase their employability, yet this latest decision by the government to remove the teacher qualifications requirement for lecturers in the FE sector seems contradictory to that mission.
We believe very strongly in maintaining a high standard of teaching across the FE sector. This is why we will not be amending our robust criteria and vetting process when recruiting lecturers. We will continue to only supply lecturers with what we would deem the necessary teaching qualifications."
Ruth Mathias is web editor at Morgan Hunt Education, the recruitment agency