Bid to boost FE staff quality

November 14, 2003

Tony Tysome reports from the Association of Colleges conference, Birmingham

The government has announced measures to improve teacher training for further education lecturers, after an Ofsted report warned that trainees lack grounding in professional skills.

Further and higher education minister Alan Johnson told the AoC he was launching a consultation on proposals for individual learning plans for trainee further education lecturers and formal subject-specific mentoring as part of their workplace development.

Mr Johnson said: "While the Ofsted report finds some strengths within initial teacher training, it is essential that we address the weaknesses in the system that have been brought to light."

The report, which was published this week, says that while courses usually provide trainees with sufficient training in the general principles of teaching, they give few opportunities for learning how to teach specialist subjects.

The diverse needs of trainees are not adequately assessed at the start of courses, and training programmes are insufficiently tailored to meet the wide ability range and prior experience of trainees, the report says. As a result, many make insufficient progress, despite their enthusiasm and commitment.

Chief inspector David Bell said: "I am particularly worried that Ofsted's findings highlight grave concerns over the standards of nationally endorsed further education teacher-training qualifications. Sadly, we cannot be confident that holders of nationally endorsed qualifications have met a consistent minimum standard by the end of their courses."

The AoC welcomed the proposals. But chief executive John Brennan warned:

"We are very concerned that undue demands for training and qualifications will act as a deterrent for many professionals wanting to undertake a small amount of college teaching."

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