College lecturers to be tested in teaching skills

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The Independent Online

College lecturers will have to pass tests in teaching skills, under plans to raise standards in adult education and training unveiled by the Government yesterday.

College lecturers will have to pass tests in teaching skills, under plans to raise standards in adult education and training unveiled by the Government yesterday.

Ministers are seeking to improve teaching standards in the 435 further education and sixth-form colleges in England. At present one in three full-time lecturers holds no formal teaching qualification. The figure for part-timers is 40 per cent.

Under the proposals, full-time teaching staff who do not hold a teaching qualification will have to pass a special certificate of education within three years. Part-timers will have to gain a lower-level qualification.

The plans are the latest attempt to improve teachingand reduce drop-out rates in colleges, where many staff are drawn from industry rather than from the teaching profession.

Colleges are at the heart of government plans to increase student numbers by 700,000 by the next general election. They will also play a role in plans byDavid Blunkett, the Education Secretary, to promote lifelong learning for millions who have not taken a course since school.

Legislationwill set up a £6bn-a-year super-quango, the Learning and Skills Council, to cut red tape and promote vocational education and training.

Malcolm Wicks, the minister for lifelong learning, said: "The proposed requirement for all further education teachers to hold recognised qualifications will help boost performance and ensure that teachers have the necessary range of appropriate skills to deal with the full range of student needs."

College principals and lecturers' leaders welcomed the plans. Sue Dutton, deputy chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "Properly implemented, this blueprint could mean all further education lecturers quickly enjoying the sort of professional status rightly long assumed essential for schoolteacher colleagues." But she warned: "It is important these proposed qualifications stay up-to-date and relevant."

Paul Mackney, general secretary of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, said: "A system of qualifications and a professional body are important steps towards ensuring that further education lecturers have the parity of esteem with their counterparts in schools and universities that they deserve."

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