Calls for body to accredit college teachers

September 22, 2000

Further education leaders are preparing the case for creating a professional body for lecturers similar to higher education's Institute of Learning and Teaching, writes Tony Tysome.

The English committee of the Further Education National Training Organisation, including representatives of the Association of Colleges and lecturers' unions, was considering yesterday how to take the idea forward, after a survey found 70 per cent of college staff in favour of it.

Fento chiefs hope that such a move will encourage colleges to invest in staff development, so that all lecturers can gain nationally recognised teaching qualifications, although this has been estimated to potentially cost hundreds of millions of pounds.

The sector has been awaiting an imminent announcement from ministers on a Department for Education and Employment consultation on whether teaching qualifications should be made compulsory for FE lecturers. But DFEE officials have indicated that the government is unlikely to legislate.

Recent figures show that 17 per cent of lecturers and 66 per cent of teaching support staff have no teaching qualification.

Geoff Terry, Fento's chief executive, said: "Our view is that there should be a minimum qualification for teaching in FE, and it should be based on the standards we have been developing.

"I would hope there is a degree of consensus in the sector that staff want to be recognised as professionals, and that could be cemented by a professional body."

Sue Dutton, AoC deputy chief executive, said it was difficult to make teaching qualifications compulsory in FE because staff had such a wide variety of roles. It was therefore better for qualifications to be dealt with through a professional body than through legislation.

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