When is a 14 year old not a 14 year old? FE teaching qualifications.

Consultation on Revocation of Further Education Teachers’ Qualifications (England) 2007 and Further Education Teachers’ Continuing Professional Development and Registration Regulations (England) 2007: Response Form

My draft of response to BIS consultation about teaching qualifications for FE teachers – not written on behalf of any organisation. 

The Department may, in accordance with the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, make available, on public request, individual responses.
The closing date for this consultation is 4 June 2012
Name: Dr Carol Azumah Dennis
Organisation (if applicable): 
Completed responses should be returned to:
Sue Ruck
Teaching Learning & Workforce Reform Team
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
2 St Pauls Place
S1 2FJ
Please tick a box from the list of options below that best describes you as a respondent. This allows views to be presented by group type.
Business representative organisation/trade body
Central government
Charity or social enterprise
Large business (over 250 staff)
Legal representative
Local Government
Medium business (50 to 250 staff)
Micro business (up to 9 staff)
Small business (10 to 49 staff)
Trade union or staff association
Other (please describe) HE / FE ITE Partnership

Question 1

Do you agree that the Further Education Teachers’ Qualifications (England) Regulations 2007 should be revoked from 1 September 2012?
Yes                         No                          Not sure
The University of Hull Partnership would refer to the recently published BIS Evaluation of FE Teachers’ Qualification Regulations in stating that it is important that the 2007 regulations are maintained. Although the regulatory framework is recent, there is evidence that it has had a positive impact on the confidence, skill, knowledge and understanding of FE teachers. In addition, they have reinforced FE colleges existing  contractual requirements for staff to be qualified and led to more consistent application and monitoring of staff training.

We agree with the writers of the interim review that the qualifications require updating. The content and structure are in urgent need of revision; the regulatory framework itself is in our view valuable and should be retained.
FE overlaps significantly with compulsory education, working with vulnerable 14+ students unable to achieve in schools. These students present significant behavioural challenges that only well trained and suitably qualified FE teachers are able to manage. Without a professional workforce, FE will be unable to contribute towards ensuring these young people are catered for. 

The needs to FE teachers are more closely aligned to the needs to secondary school teachers rather then HE lecturers who largely work with successful and motivated students. The market mechanisms in place to ensure the quality of HE lecturing does not exist for FE. Students who attend FE colleges do not have the choices that school student have, in most instances attending the only available local college.

Young people, unemployed and unqualified adults in need of basic education, redundant workers looking to develop new career opportunities are the groups that FE colleges work with. They are difficult to teach and if they are to make the most of the 2nd chance that FE offers, the confidence, skill, knowledge and understanding of their teachers cannot be determined by individual college HR policies. Regulation needs to establish a framework; local policies can and should determine the detail of content and structure.

The deregulation of FE qualifications would seem to undermine the recommendations of the Wolf Report that recognises the contribution of FE teachers and recognises equivalence between QTLS and QTS.

Question 2

Do you agree that the Further Education Teachers’ Continuing Professional Development and Registration (England) Regulations 2007 should be revoked from 1 September 2012?
Yes                        No                          Not sure
We are of the view that participation in a community of practice is central to FE professionalism; membership of a professional body should be voluntary rather than regulated and enforced. CPD should be viewed as an entitlement rather than a requirement.

The comparison with secondary schooling is of value here and we are of the view that QTLS should be awarded on the basis of recommendation upon the completion of a PgCE (FE)

 Question 3

Do you think there will be any unintended consequences or implications by revoking these regulations?
Yes                         No                           Not sure
The potential consequences of deregulation may be unintended but they are not entirely unpredictable.  While local institutions can set the content and structure of qualifications within a mixed market model of awarding body and HEI provision, without a regulatory framework set and monitored by a government body FE will revert to the amateurish approach of previous years. The sector plays too important a role in the local and national economy for that to be allowed to happen.

The outcome would be to lower the standards of teaching and learning for post 14 students. Experts sharing a passion for their subject need to understand principles of teaching and learning to work with the extremely challenging learners who attend FE.

Question 4

What do you consider to be the minimum level of qualification needed to teach in Further Education?
A positive outcome of the regulatory framework, as mentioned in the BIS Evaluation, is that it creates a career path for teachers and professional aspiration. While some sort of introductory, preparatory programme as part of institutional induction is of value, a minimum level of qualification should be as suggested in the report – broadly equivalent to a level 5 certificate with the option of level 7 diploma.

Difference and diversity is the hallmark of this sector and a one-size-fits-all approach will always produce tensions. The value of localism is that it is able to accommodate complexity.  The content and structure of courses is most ably decided by teacher educators working within a framework that ensure the important gains of regulations are not undermined.

The danger with focussing on a minimum level of qualification is that it potentially creates the misleading perception that the preparatory programme constitutes a teaching qualification rather than merely a licence to practice as part of an extended institutional induction.

Question 5

What do you consider to be the most effective means of maintaining a professionalised workforce?
The single most important aspect of FE teacher professionalism is teaching expertise – qualifications at an appropriate level. Without it this important sector reverts to its previous amateurism. Nor can college principles be charged with securing the professional status of their workforce. To be effective, FE teachers need to provided with a regulatory framework that allows them form a new identity as teachers – as they leave behind their previous identity as specialists in a specific area of work.  If FE is to attract accountants, engineers, plumbers working in well regarded, understood and high status occupations, it needs to be attractive.

Maintaining the newly emerging professionalism in this area requires – a clear inspirational regulatory framework, qualifications, membership of a community of practice, a voluntaristic professional body, career structure – and a inspection framework that ensures suitably trained, qualified and competent teachers are employed. 

Question 6

Do you consider that any minimum expectations for training and qualifications should be stipulated as a condition of public funding?
Yes                      No                           Not sure

Public funding is a valuable steer; with funding linked to qualification government can ensure that only high quality provision is supported.  The broader lifelong learning sector including work based learning and adult community education has not necessarily been brought within the regularity framework but they do benefit from the exemplary leadership of FE and over the past few years have been able to improve their provision based in part on the increasing numbers of qualifying staff they employ.

Do you have any other comments that might aid the consultation process as a whole?

Please use this space for any general comments that you may have, comments on the layout of this consultation would also be welcomed.
It is notable that there is a distinct difference between the Interim review and the BIS Evaluation. The content and depth of analysis of the BIS review offers a more accurate, considered and welcome analysis of the area and in our view provides a firmer basis for shaping policy.

Thank you for your views on this consultation and for taking the time to let us have your views. We do not intend to acknowledge receipt of individual responses unless you tick the box below.
Please acknowledge this reply
At BIS we carry out our research on many different topics and consultations. As your views are valuable to us, would you be happy for us to contact you from time to time either for research purposes or to send through consultation documents?

Yes                         No

© Crown copyright 2012
You may re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. Visit www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence, write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, LondonTW9 4DU, or email psi@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk.
This publication is also available on our website at www.bis.gov.uk
Any enquiries regarding this publication should be sent to:

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
1 Victoria Street
LondonSW1H 0ET
Tel: 020 7215 5000
If you require this publication in an alternative format, email enquiries@bis.gsi.gov.uk, or call 020 7215 5000.
URN 12/706RF

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