From education to employment

Funding Shortfall Threatens Positive Impact of New Teaching Material Investment

The University and College Lecturers” Union (NATFHE) has issued a warning to the Government about the impact that funding shortfalls will have on the new initiative for progressive teaching materials.

The new teaching materials that have met with such a positive response from teachers and educators could well suffer from the effects of under ““ funding in FE colleges, it is feared. With lecturer’s jobs threatened in the current funding environment, this is a troubled time for FE College funding considerations. The increase in the budget allocation through the Learning and Skills Council for this year is the lowest in recent times in percentage terms (roughly 4%) and sees a real ““ terms drop in adult and post ““ 19 funding provision.

NATFHE members are still protesting over the failure to meet an agreed pay deal and wage structure, whilst the cut in post ““ 19 provision is leading to many colleges cutting courses in this area. And even though NATFHE welcomes the investment in improving the quality and quantity of the materials provided, they remain concerned that this may all amount to little in the face of the extant problems.

A Good Idea…But”¦

The new materials are part of a £31million teaching package and build on more traditional text-book based activities. They encourage students to take a more active role in their studying, using innovative and interactive learning methods. Importantly, these materials are distributed free of charge to colleges, and include making use of DVDs, ICT and workbooks. Also provided will be coaching programmes, professional development materials and regional subject networks designed to assist the educators and trainers in their task of providing the best possible training for the learners.

NATFHE praised this initiative, saying: “NATFHE welcomes these new materials. They and other materials that have been produced by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) Standards Unit over the past two years are of great practical help to both teachers and learners.” This echoes the support found amongst teachers, where nine out of ten surveyed said that the new materials offered better teaching methods and a greater understanding of good professional practice.

However, they sounded a note of caution, drawing attention to the difficulties inherent in building on solid foundations when the funding is not sufficient for the task according to them. NATFHE told FE News: “However, these positive initiatives may be threatened by the financial squeeze on many colleges which could mean they are unable to offer staff the time and opportunities to get best use from the materials.”

As good as the news may be regarding the materials on offer, then, it may prove to be more difficult to get the most from them without adequate funding for staff to learn how to use them.

Jethro Marsh

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