Labour proposes tests for lecturers

March 7, 1997

A Labour government would require further education lecturers to get teaching qualifications within a specified period after entering the profession, said Bryan Davies, Labour's spokesman on higher education.

Labour sources also indicate that the requirement might in time be extended to higher education.

Mr Davies told this week's Further Education Development Agency conference, Spotlight on FE, that "without reform to current practice, further education teaching staff will be unable to respond with high standards and professionalism to the changes they face".

Further education lecturers, unlike school teachers, are not required to have a teaching qualification or GCSE grade C equivalent maths and English. More than half of full-time lecturers have no teaching qualification on entry, although a substantial number subsequently acquire them.

Labour wanted "a coherent, rationalised framework for the recruitment, induction and professional development of further education staff".

Mr Davies pointed to the prospect of "a teaching profession, from our schools up to higher education, that is brought within an overarching professional regulatory framework" and said the further education lecturers should eventually be integrated into the framework of Labour's planned General Teaching Council. This is likely to take the form of a dedicated further and higher education sub-committee under the GTC.

He also called for improved management training and a return to national bargaining in the sector.

However, he ruled out any return to the Silver Book which formerly dictated conditions of employment: "Colleges need flexibility and we recognise that fact".

Liberal Democrat spokesman Don Foster, speaking to the same conference, said that while schools would be getting priority in spending the Pounds 2 billion product of the party's planned extra penny on the standard rate of income tax, there would also be benefits for further education. He said he would shortly be announcing a funding package for the sector.

* Union goes to court, page 6

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