Part-time teaching 'erodes quality'

October 29, 1999

The casualisation of teaching in further education is damaging quality, the college inspectorate has warned, writes Phil Baty.

Highlighting persistent problems with teaching standards in his annual report, chief inspector Jim Donaldson said part-time teachers need more support.

The Further Education Funding Council report, published this week, reveals that teaching is unsatisfactory in 10 per cent of colleges, and in some colleges student absenteeism is 22 per cent and drop-out rates are as high as 30 per cent.

A minority of colleges was damaging the whole sector, the report said, with ten colleges accounting for more than 70 per cent of unsatisfactory provision.

The analysis, of more than 8,000 lessons at more than 104 colleges and involving more than 88,000 students during 1998-99, found 24 per cent of teaching staff on non-permanent contracts. The report said the figure was higher in some colleges and that many part-time teachers - some who run courses - had professional careers outside college.

"Such teachers need help to bring their work up to the standards achieved by full-time colleagues," said Mr Jim Donaldson.

He said progress will require "effective leadership", which was lacking in some colleges. The report, Quality and Standards In Further Education 1998/99, found management unsatisfactory at one in nine colleges and "significant weaknesses" in the governance of one in seven.

But it also highlighted improvements. As revealed by The THES earlier this month, student achievement rates had increased by 4 per cent, while student numbers had risen by 2 per cent.

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