Professionalisation will create a win-win scenario

College teaching staff now have to become at least as qualified as schoolteachers.

If you go to school, you can be sure your teacher has a formal teaching qualification. Go to college, on the other hand, and you don't have that reassurance. But things are set to change, with all further education teaching staff now expected to gain a qualification within five years of joining.

"The professionalisation of the sector means there will be a status attached to our teaching staff that can't be questioned," says Joy Mercer, senior quality manager, policy, at the Association of Colleges (AoC). "There will also be a proper career structure in place, which is excellent news." Students will benefit, too. "In the last cycle of Ofsted inspections, we have seen a fantastic improvement in quality of teacher training. There has been a real success story, and this is set to continue."

In fact, since colleges are increasingly teaching 14- to 16-year-olds, who are still in statutory education, the need for teaching staff to become at least as qualified as schoolteachers is paramount.

A further advantage of getting all teaching staff qualified is it is likely to enable them to provide better feedback to students. "Giving feedback hasn't been considered particularly important until recently. Students would hand in an assignment and get a grade, and that was that. But we now have evidence that if you get detailed messages about what students can do to improve next time round, it can be the difference between them making a grade or not. With the teaching staff being better qualified – and taught this kind of practice as part of gaining that qualification – this will undoubtedly improve."

But unlike teacher training in the school sector, which is achieved prior to gaining a teaching job, staff in colleges will be expected to do their training on the job. In many ways, this is great – you can immediately put into practice what you learn, for one thing. But, points out Mercer, there is a concern that, for some teaching staff, it is an enormous commitment, especially as it requires at least four hours per week, as well as having their teaching observed on a regular basis – all this over an average of two years. "There's no doubt that some people might struggle with this, particularly on a full teaching timetable. That said, methods of delivery, including blended learning, enables individuals to take part in learning by phone and over the internet, for example."

For some staff, there's the added feeling that they don't need a qualification. "Many teachers who are unqualified have been teaching for years, often decades, and have a wealth of experience, and are excellent teachers. Many already mentor newer teaching staff, so you can see how they might question their need to be qualified," says Mercer.

If teaching is not someone's main career, they may feel even more resistant. "Say, you're a full-time journalist who teaches one day a week. You might not feel you have the time or inclination to invest large amounts of time in what is after all not your primary career. There is a risk that colleges could lose valuable sector experience if these teaching staff decide to walk away."

Peter Mayhew-Smith, the principal of Kingston College, worries that many people who teach vocational subjects may be put off by the need to get a formal qualification. "There are many people in the further education sector that have a real love of their art, craft or trade, and their desire is to share that. It's why they teach and they do it well. Put them in a classroom and they will galvanise a whole room of otherwise disengaged students. They work magic.

"But many such people really struggle with the requirements of the teaching qualification. They don't have experience in doing things like research. I want to see more of the workplace in the classroom and vice versa, so that when we train people in our colleges they are really ready for work.

"The last thing we need – and this is something that employers are always giving us a hard time about – is cohorts of young people who are unemployable. They hit the workplace and are caught out by its rules and protocols – everything from dress codes to the need for punctuality."

When you consider that teaching staff – regardless of what they teach – will have to reach Level 2 in maths and English as well as IT, this may lead to even more anxiety. "But one thing that further education is very good at is teaching these kinds of subjects at these kinds of levels to people who do not have a straightforward educational history," says Mercer. There are other sticking points on a more strategic level. "The qualification that further education teaching staff will get is not transferable. So whereas someone qualified as a schoolteacher can move into the college sector, this isn't possible the other way round. That is a bone of contention."

There is also a need for communication to be improved about exactly what level of qualification each member of teaching staff requires. "It's still a bit complex about which stage you need to reach, so there needs some work here."

There may be an issue with funding, too. "Every person who does the training is eligible for a grant. But in order to raise the large sums required, it could be that the Government need to phase out the golden hellos currently on offer for teaching certain subjects like construction and engineering. But in order to meet the regulations and government targets for teacher training, we need stability of funding. You cannot have one without the other."

One of the most positive things about the new qualification is that it demonstrates how colleges are not just a second chance for many students, but for teachers too. "To get someone who left school at 16, who has worked as a bricklayer, able to qualify as a teacher and gain a Level 4 qualification – the level of a degree – is fantastic. As a sector, we are very proud of that. We are also proud of the fact that many of our teaching staff are already qualified. All we are saying is that there are some issues that need addressing in ensuring we get the professionalisation agenda right."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Do you think you are read...

Cover Supervisor

£60 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: The JobSeveral cover supervisors ...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£55 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are seeking special needs...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Sheffield: MFL teacher Required in Don...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game