Messages from the Dearing debate

October 3, 1997

Roger Brown (THES letters, September 12) argues for the need for collaboration between the various higher education sector bodies involved in the Dearing report's proposed Institute for Teaching and Learning.

One important thrust of the recommendations in that report was to develop the role that the further education sector plays in the delivery of higher education programmes. Many lecturers in further education colleges make significant contributions already to degree-level teaching and increasing numbers are involved in the teaching and supervision of research up to doctoral and post-doctoral level.

If the proposed institute is to have a real impact on professional teaching and lecturing in higher education, it must not overlook the important developments that are already going on in the further education sector. The Further Education Staff Development Forum, a cross-sector body set up 18 months ago to progress standards and qualifications, is about to embark on consultation on establishing a national training organisation for the sector and on a Department for Education and Employment-funded project to develop standards for lecturers in further education. Many colleges already have formal programmes of development for new and existing lecturers, often based on specialist CertEd qualifications tailored to the needs of the sector. My organisation, the Further Education Development Agency, does a substantial amount of post-experience development for lecturers and is leading a sector project to identify and spell out the characteristics of good teaching.

It is vital that the needs of existing development arrangements for higher education lecturers working in the college sector are not overlooked in the planning of a new institute.

Sue Brownlow Head of programme areainstitutional development and performance, Further Education Development Agency

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