From education to employment

New Measure Open for Consultation in Drive for Improving Professionalism in Sector

As regular readers of FE News will be aware, the FE White Paper that was published last month set out a range of new measures to push the sector towards its future as the engine room for change and for the economy.

The success of such a drive relies on the staff within FE. The FE sector benefits from the application of skills and experience from a wide range of dedicated and highly motivated professionals, without whom rises in success in FE and ever greater participation rates would not be possible. However, issues of staff development and improvement remain unresolved, as was highlighted in the FE White Paper.

To meet the demand for better training and development provision for staff in FE, key measures have now been offered out for consultation and comment with both staff and partner organisations in the Lifelong Learning sector. The measures are being proposed by Bill Rammell MP, the Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, and is in line with the “Success for All” strategy of 2002 that aims to create a fully qualified workforce by 2010.

Success for All

The White Paper supports the driving impetus of the “Success for All” strategy as well as broadly supporting the recommendations found in the Foster Review of Further Education that was published in November 2005. In this, Sir Andrew Foster highlighted the FE mission, to drive up skills for the workforce and to train people with the skills that will be needed to make Britain’s economy competitive in the future. Part of this is the mission to make FE truly responsive to needs; the needs of employers, the needs of the learners, but also the needs of the employees for professional development and skills enhancement.

The Government’s consultation welcomes views on the implementation of the new Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QLTS) status, which comes into effect from 2007, looking at the effect the QLTS would have on recruitment and retention of staff. There is also the measure to offer qualifications for newly appointed FE College principals (to see the article on Principals” salaries, please click here) and the effect this would have on attracting applicants for the role of Principal, mirroring the diversity of the FE sector.

Finally, the Government also welcomes feedback on the proposed introduction of mandatory continuing professional development (CPD) requirements. In particular, the Government wishes to examine the methods for ensuring compliance with the requirement, guaranteeing the effective implementation of a CPD scheme. The issue of offering training and development to the many part time staff is also offered for consultation.

A Vision?

Speaking of the issue of building professionalism in FE, Bill Rammell MP said: “Last month’s Further Education White Paper set out a vision for the learning and skills sector. We want to attract effective leaders and teachers and empower the sector to meet its own priorities and targets for improvement. We depend on a professional workforce and strong leaders to make this happen.

“We want all learners to receive a consistent quality of teaching wherever they study,” he continued. “A fully professional workforce is vital for making the learning and skills sector world class and responsive to learners and employers. Qualification requirements will set minimum standards and raise the status of the workforce. Our proposals on continuous professional development will ensure that the knowledge and skills of teachers keep pace with current and future demands. This consultation is a vital opportunity to say how this can work and we look to leaders, teachers, teacher trainers, learners and others to respond and give their views.”

The issue of staff development is a crucial one, both in FE success and in the fair treatment of FE staff at all levels. There can be little doubt that offering comprehensive training and development programmes would help to recruit and retain the most ambitious and dedicated staff, which would have knock ““ on positive results in retention of staff and achievement levels. However, as the pay talks for FE College Lecturers rumbles on and the offer of 1.5% continues to be described as a “slap in the face” by NATFHE, the University and College Lecturers” Union, it would seem that the issue of fair pay might be more effective in keeping the best staff in FE.

Jethro Marsh

Stay at FE News for all the latest in FE!

Related Articles