NIACE response to Review on Professionalism in FE

28 March 2012

NIACE is pleased that the Independent Review Panel on Professionalism in Further Education is seeking to resolve the uncertainty which has existed over the future direction of professional standards across further education. NIACE is primarily concerned that the new arrangements emerging from the legislation will ultimately enhance the experience of adult learners.

The Institute for Learning (IfL) has played a vital role in raising the professionalism of staff in Further Education and Skills. As a private membership body, the Institute will have an important role to play in future alongside LSIS and other organisations such as NIACE, which have a keen interest in maintaining and raising the quality of the learning experience for adults.

Alastair Clark, Programme Manager at NIACE, said:

“Adults should have access to a broad range of inspiring learning opportunities which are carefully delivered to meet their needs. Where structured learning is offered, we believe that professionally trained teachers have the unique skills needed to develop learning pathways which present the right degree of challenge, whilst adapting programmes to meet the needs of individuals.

We welcome a reform of the PTLLS qualification and are pleased to see that its replacement will provide a threshold licence to practice. People who have come to learning themselves as adults can have a particularly powerful role to play in teaching others who are treading similar paths, and for this reason, we will welcome a new initial qualification if it is both accessible and robust. We also agree with the removal of associate lecturer status and we agree with the panel that adult learners should expect the best teaching from a fully-fledged teacher.

The removal of the 2007 regulations does carry risks and we are concerned that the ‘rolling back of central control’ may lead to less consistency. The panel say they are ‘convinced that every employer in the sector routinely provides systematic induction for new lecturing staff’. However, the removal of regulations carries the risk that this claim will be more difficult to make in future without the right combination of support and contractual obligation. In a rapidly changing world the importance of regular CPD is crucial so teachers can keep improving their skills and we hope that the removal of the formal requirement does not reduce employers’ commitment.

The voice of the practitioner in FE is vital. Unions such as UCU play an important part in this, but undoubtedly since the creation of the IfL it has helped raise awareness of the issues faced by those working directly with learners, particularly where the views of practitioners do not directly align with those of learning providers. We are pleased that the IfL will continue in this capacity and we look forward to working with it to ensure that practitioner voices are heard alongside those of learners, providers and of course employers, which we hope will result in a true community of practice that encompasses all parties across the further education sector.”