From education to employment

The Letters of the Alphabet Accord FE Recognition of Experience

What makes a teacher a teacher?

Whilst some would doubtless offer nostalgic answers of mortar boards and elbow patches, and the poetic may suggest “the wisdom of the ages”, it seems that the present answer is a piece of paper with the letters P,G, C and E on it. Harsh news, perhaps, for some of history’s greatest teachers who, in today’s society of “streetsign” qualifications, would fail to be recognized as even the humblest of classroom assistants.

Socrates may have taught Plato, but without a Stage 3 Certificate in Education he is but a deranged old man in a robe. Descartes, who famously hated rising at 5 am to teach the queen of Sweden, was clearly wasting his time without an FE Teacher’s Certificate. Even the great teacher himself would struggle to endorse the sermon on the mount without a Level 4 Subject Specialist Certificate in religion.

Skills for Life

The new skills for life recognition scheme is therefore a welcome addition to the many qualification and award schemes already in place to identify the thousands of teachers working in all levels of education. It is about time that those with years of experience in supporting learners are allowed the basic credit of a qualification some of them would probably be able to teach let alone receive. At a time with too few teachers around, it makes sense to count the ones you already have.

Perhaps now these hitherto unseen teachers can continue their work without the stigma of somehow being “illegitimate” members of the FE community and who, despite having the much more important asset of experience, have been slighted for the sake of a piece of paper and an acronym on their c.v. It also reassures the students of such teachers that what they have received is indeed genuine education: a skill is a skill from the moment it is learned, not until somebody you”ve never met sends you a certificate allowing you to be skilled.

Today’s society is too preoccupied with the various trinket qualifications that one accumulates in a lifetime; too often the c.v. is hired and not the man. Now, those who have been taught by people who for one reason or another do not have the official qualifications do not have to worry about being “illegitimately educated” and can therefore receive further recognition and confidence themselves.

True Recognition

However, if the scheme is to be of any tangible benefit, it has to afford approved candidates proper and full recognition. As is stands, even the new scheme of recognition will not allow newly recognized teachers to draw the same pay as those blessed by the official sponsor. Paul Hambling of Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) points out that it will probably be quicker and therefore better to undertake the normal qualifications anyway, to get “the full financial awards available”, rather than apply for recognition and remain on “illegitimate” pay rates.

This seems a rather charmless smile – seeing as recognition applicants have to go through a thorough application process overseen by adjudicators and approved by experts it seems harsh to then deny them full teacher status; even once recognized they will still be second-class surrogate teachers, educators in name but not pay. As a result, they could remain somewhat neglected in comparison to qualification owners, the very outcome that the skills for life recognition scheme is trying to eliminate in the first place.

In this instance, it seems that it has to be “on for a penny and in for a pound”; either “unqualified” educators are recognized as genuine teachers and treated thus or they are left in the state of unclassified recognitional limbo that they are in now. Let’s just hope the scheme is as good as its own qualifications say it is.

Daniel Wallis

Stay right here at FE News for all your FE news!

Related Articles