TEN WASTED YEARS

OFSTED 2003 Report and the 2007 Regulations.

Huckfield has an active background around Further Education (FE) and has always raised concerns about limited external understanding of the FE Sector.

This Huckfield briefing laments 10 wasted years of trying to improve professional standards in Further Education in England.

Even OFSTED, whose Initial Training of Further Education Teachers Report in November 2003 prefaced the 2007 Further Education Teachers’ Qualifications Regulations, as shown later in OFSTED Damning Evidence, bluntly says that the Regulations have achieved nothing.

Lord Lingfield’s Interim Report on Professionalism in Further Education , published on Tuesday 27 March 2012, now recommends that the whole lot should be scrapped and that any required FE Professionalism qualifications should be decided by employers.

FE Professionalism – Petals, Kettles and Dettols

Getting qualified to teach in FE has always been a bit unique, as Lord Lingfield’s Interim Report on Professionalism in Further Education has shown.

FE Professionalism has baffled many with its petals, kettles and Dettols. To give them their proper titles:

  • Preparation for Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector
  • Certificate for Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector
  • Diploma for Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector

Having achieved the Diploma ( the top level) under the 2007 Further Education Teachers’ Qualifications Regulations FE lecturers have then been required to pay £68 to the Institute for Learning to achieve Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status. This should give them parity of esteem with schools’ teachers’ Qualified Teacher Status and, following Professor Alison’s Wolf’s Review of Vocational Education Report in March 2011, enables those with QTLS to teach in schools.

OFSTED was the main begetter of all this when it produced its Initial Training of Further Education Teachers Report in November 2003, with sharp criticism of the previous system. The Report’s Summary on page 2 showed:

“The current system of FE teacher training does not provide a satisfactory foundation of professional development for FE teachers at the start of their careers.While the tuition that trainees receive on the taught elements of their courses is generally good, few opportunities are provided for trainees to learn how to teach their specialist subjects, and there is a lack of systematic mentoring and support in the workplace.The needs of this diverse group of trainees are not adequately assessed at the start of the courses, and training programmes are insufficiently differentiated. As a consequence, many trainees make insufficient progress”.

As a response to OFSTED’s findings, in 2004, the Standards Unit of the Department for Education and Skills produced its policy proposals, Equipping our Teachers for the Future: Reforming Initial Teacher Training for the Learning and Skills Sector. These proposals gave a series of tasks to the Institute for Learning (IfL), a voluntary membership body established in 2002. But by 2006 the Institute had only obtained 4,000 lecturer members from a projected workforce of 188,000 in 2009/2010.

2007 Further Education Teachers’ Qualifications Regulations

This dramatic lack of progress under “Equipping our Teachers for the Future: Reforming Initial Teacher Training for the Learning and Skills Sector” published in 2004 led to a Reforming Initial Teacher Training package in 2007, centring on the The Further Education Teachers’ Continuing Professional Development and Registration, England, Regulations, No. 2116 and The Further Education Teachers’ Qualifications, England, Regulations, No. 2264). The 2007 Regulations made registration with the Institute for Learning compulsory to achieve Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills status.

Summarising the new 2007 Regulations, in paragraph 2.6 on page 12, Lord Lingfield’s Interim Report on Professionalism in Further Education says:

“These regulations required that FE lecturers should comply with the following:

  • Annual registration with the Institute for Learning (IfL)
  • Achievement of teaching qualifications comprising an initial award (PTLLS),’fully-qualified’ status consisting of Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) or Associate Teacher Learning and Skills (ATLS) based on a Diploma (DTLLS) or a Certificate (CTLLS), plus a period of reflective practice, termed ‘professional formation’, monitored by the IfL
  • An annual requirement for at least 30 hours of CPD (or between six and 30 hours for part-time staff, according to the extent of their teaching contract) which FE lecturers should report to the IfL in order to maintain their ‘qualified’ status: in effect an annually-renewable licence to practise

Paragraph 2.6 on page 12 of the Report continues:

“These regulations applied to colleges under statute and to other providers in the FE sector under contract with the public funding bodies. They affected FE lecturers who joined the sector after 1 September 2001, requiring them to be ‘fully qualified’ within five years of 1 September 2007; that is by September 2012 or five years after the date of joining for those who entered the service after 2007”.

Despite this requirement from 2007 onwards of compulsory registration with the Institute for Learning, Lord Lingfield’s Interim Report describes the situation as “Working towards QTLS becomes a Permanent State”

Few Takers and Union Boycott

The trouble with this required compulsory registration with the Institute for Learning under the 2007 Regulations, according to paragraph 2.11 on page 13 of Lord Lingfield’s Interim Report is that very few in FE have taken much notice of these requirements:

“By August 2011, only some 2,900 lecturing staff had achieved ‘fully qualified’ status (source GHK), for which the IfL was the conferring body; a figure that had risen to 6,000 by February 2012 (source IfL)”.

Compared with overall numbers of FE staff, this is tiny, as paragraph 2.9 on page 13 of the Lord Lingfield’s Report explains:

“As a voluntary body it (IfL) attained a membership of some 4,000 lecturers (source: IfL) by 2006. This should be compared with a sector estimated in 2009-2010 as comprising over 2,000 employers and 188,000 members of the teaching workforce. When registration with the IfL became mandatory under the 2007 Regulations, the number of those associated with the professional body rose to over 200,000 (including a number of teaching support staff), before falling back in stages to around 85,000 in 2011-2012 (source: IfL). The highest figures of IfL registration were achieved through government paying the whole of the registration fee”

Paragraph 2.11 on page 14 of Lord Lingfield’s Report thus concludes:

“According to research conducted for the government by GHK Consulting, only about 15% of lecturers have attained ‘fully qualified’ status or have committed themselves to the programme of post-qualification study and supervised practice required to achieve it. QTLS/ATLS has not become a universal full licence to practise and a driver of teaching excellence”.

Paragraph 2.11 on page 13 of the Report says:

“In February 2011, the Institute made clear its intention to charge a registration fee to individual members of £68 for an initial eighteen-month period, which was later extended to a two-year term with an annual rate of £38. This brought to a head underlying concerns expressed variously by employers’ and employees’ representative bodies, and by many individual lecturers, about the value added by the IfL; the juxtaposition of compulsion for FE lecturers to register with the Institute and the obligation to pay a fee, without which they would be disbarred from employment; and the fact that the duty to be ‘qualified’ and regularly updated to teach effectively lay with employees rather than being shared with their employers. Discontent found a focus in a boycott of IfL registration among many of the 40,000 or so FE members of the University and College Union (UCU) and the threat of legal action”.

Institute for Learning Upsets Everbody

As shown in paragraph 2 on page 4 of its Summary in Lord Lingfield’s Interim Report , the Institute for Learning seems to have upset everybody in FE:

“With the benefit of nearly five years of State funding and regulatory backing, the IfL has not won the confidence of those organisations which should be its partners”.

Paragraph 3.1.2 on page 15 of Lord Lingfield’s Report further comments:

“The wider FE community understands that IfL’s preferred outcome to the review would be a return to some form of government funding and enforcement of the 2007 Regulations. It is regrettable that this stance by the IfL appears to have alienated employee and employer representative bodies alike”

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VOLUNTARISM REPLACES REGULATION

“Working towards QTLS becomes a Permanent State”

Though the 2007 Further Education Teachers’ Qualifications Regulations made registration with the Institute for Learning compulsory – with a grace period for obtaining Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills status – Lord Lingfield’s Report comments in paragraph 3.5 on page 20:

“The implication was that, as has occurred in some previous impositions on the sector, that ‘working towards’ would, for many, be a permanent state”.

Since this was a situation which obviously could not continue, Lord Lingfield’s Interim Report recommends that the Institute for Learning should revert to its status as a voluntary membership body and in paragraph 4.3 on page 23 believes that some membership fees should be refunded:

“We suggest that the IfL should be obliged to refund part of the second-year subscription paid by some of those who are registered with it, when the Regulations are revoked from 1 September 2012. We recommend that the final instalment of the transitional public funding granted to the IfL be used for this purpose, before any restitution of accrued reserves is required by the Secretary of State”

Withdrawal of 2007 Further Education Teachers’ Qualifications Regulations

Paragraph 4.2 on page 22 the Report also recommends withdrawal of the Regulations:

“The 2007 Regulations are no longer fit-for-purpose, nor are they so well-founded that amendment will deal adequately with their shortcomings. We recommend that they should be revoked with effect from 1 September 2012. We recommend in their stead a largely voluntary regime of in-service advanced practitioner training and CPD for lecturers, based on advice to employers drawn up through consultation conducted urgently by LSIS and encapsulated where appropriate in contracts issued by the funding bodies.”

The Report’s basic view on leaving things to employers is stated in paragraph 5 on page 6 of its summary:

“In all these matters we emphasise our core belief that staff training, professional updating, competency and behaviour are essentially matters between employer and employee”.

Paragraph 5.1 on page 25 of the Report passes the baton for upholding standards to OFSTED:

“In all these matters we emphasise our core belief that staff training, professional updating, competency and behaviour are essentially matters between employer and employee. There are sufficient statutory arrangements in place through, for example employment legislation and the requirements for staff performance management and learner safeguarding set out in Ofsted’s Common Inspection Framework, to ensure at least a threshold level of professional competence. Most providers will want to do very much better than that and to stand or fall according to the service they offer and the public accreditation they earn for the high quality of that service from Ofsted and others”.

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OFSTED AGREES

OFSTED Damning Evidence

Lord Lingfield’s Report in paragraph 5.4 on page 26 refers to OFSTED as the only remaining regulating body:

“The purpose of this discussion will be to help ensure that the single regulator remaining in FE monitors outcomes in a way which informs learner choice and assists employers both to further enhance their service and to support the professionalism of their staff”.

But OFSTED doesn’t sound too confident about its new role. Paragraph 2.12 on page 14 of Lord Lingfield’s Report says about OFSTED:

“This disappointing outcome appears to be compounded by the findings of researchers and of OFSTED, to the effect that decade-long reforms have had very little impact on the same faults in delivering teacher training in FE that were identified by the inspectorate in 2003. Initial teacher training programmes appear to be largely generic and theoretical, rather than being related to the professional and occupational expertise of college lecturers; mentoring continues to be weak; the system of qualifications and credits is very inconsistent among teacher training providers; and the commitment of FE employers to support their staff to attain excellence in pedagogy appears distinctly uneven”.

Paragraph 3.2.2 of Lord Lingfield’s Report on page 15 confirms OFSTED’s view:

“OFSTED has confirmed to the panel that no sound, causal, link can be made between regulatory enforcement of teaching qualification and CPD in the sector, and improvements in practice”.

GOVERNMENT AGREES TOO

Minister – “Colleges and Providers Freedom to Decide”

The Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning John Hayes said on Tuesday 27 March 2012:

“Moving away from an approach that enforces professionalism through regulation, to one that gives colleges and providers the freedom to decide how best to achieve high standards of teaching and learning is consistent with our policy of giving colleges freedom and power.

“It is also important that we empower staff to take responsibility for their own professional development – supported where they choose by voluntary professional body membership.”

As reported in Student Cashpoint Funding News on Tuesday 27 March 2012, John Hayes went further:

“I want to thank Lord Lingfield and the panel for their insightful report, which sets out a compelling vision for elevating the status of the further education workforce”.

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LSIS TAKES OVER

LSIS – a Ragbag of FE Functions

Though all this will be voluntary, paragraph 4.4 on page 23 of the Report gives the responsibility for piloting a new Level 5 Certificate of Education to replace DTLLS and a Level 7 Diploma in Further Education to the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS):

“The panel is convinced that in bringing together voluntarily the concerns of employers and employees, LSIS will be reflecting the essential conjunction of interests in which professionalism thrives. The review panel suggests that both government and LSIS, might consider whether there are elements of the approach of the HEA in higher education which would be suited to FE, bearing in mind the close parallels which exist between the two sectors in relation to the ‘dual professionalism’ of lecturers (occupational specialist and teacher) and the growing provision for HE in FE providers”.

The trouble is that LSIS itself now accommodates a ragbag of FE functions, having taken over from Lifelong Learning UK as the FE Sector Skills Council. It struggles within a reduced budget. Comparisons with the Higher Education Academy are hardly appropriate since the HEA operates in a more specific way.

FE Big Disappointment

All this obviously comes as a bitter disappointment to those many FE College Principals and others, who over the years have encouraged their staff to acquire more professional qualifications to raise standards.

Another problem is that any equivalence between Qualified Teacher Status and Qualified Teaching and Learning Skills status is clearly on the back burner – and with it further FE lecturers’ aspirations to teach in schools.

For what it’s worth, as Further Education policy gradually moves towards Employer Ownership of Skills, Huckfield hopes that the Association of Colleges and University and College Union will take the lead working on an acceptable induction procedure. This could start with an initial competence requirement, perhaps using some earlier City and Guilds 7300 Teacher Training qualifications – nowadays called Legacy Qualifications.

Too Big a Risk for Young People

The latest ONS unemployment statistics (October—December 2011), presented to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee on Tuesday 28 February 2012, showed 731,000 young people aged 16–24 years looking for work, excluding students. The unemployment figure including students was 1.04 million — up 22,000 on the 3 months to September 2011. The unemployment rate for 16–24 year olds, including students, is 22.2%.

Huckfield believes that leaving things to the market is far too big a risk for this key cohort when life chances are at stake.

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