College manager training mooted

January 15, 1999

New qualifications for college managers and governors may be introduced as part of far-reaching proposals to professionalise further education.

The fledgling Further Education National Training Organisation (Fento) is to investigate the possibility of mandatory qualifications for managers and an equivalent, but voluntary scheme for governors.

Fento's main objective is the introduction of professional teaching qualifications for all college staff.

Graham Peeke, who is part of a group working to get Fento up and running by spring, said that the quality of management, including governance, at some colleges has been found wanting. The move is supported by the government, which called for improvement in its Learning Age green paper published last year.

Dr Peeke said: "There is a perception that there needs to be better quality management and that involves not only managers but also governors. This has been fuelled by a number of incidents over the past few years."

A 50-page blueprint on minimum standards for further education lecturers and support staff has been produced by the shadow Fento group and details will be released at a government conference later this month. Around two-fifths of college lecturers have no qualification above A level.

It is understood that Fento blueprint proposes both initial lecturer training and continuing professional development. It is envisaged that initial lecturer training will lead to qualified lecturer status akin to qualified teaching status in schools.

It is hoped that this qualification will be transferable, allowing qualified college lecturers to teach in schools and also to deliver higher education courses.

It is unlikely that existing experienced lecturers would be forced to achieve qualified lecturing status immediately.

Fento could act as a kite- marking body for higher education institutions providing courses for college lecturers. It will also lobby government for a professional institute for further education lecturers similar to the new General Teaching Council for schools and higher education's Institute for Learning and Teaching.

Lecturers' union Natfhe has welcomed the proposals, which will improve career development opportunities for lecturers.

The union also hopes that enhanced professional status will improve the case for better lecturers' pay and conditions.

The Times HigherJjanuary 15 1999news 5 Making a sacrifice: principal Jenny Shackleton is taking early retirement this year howard barlow.

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