Skip to main content
article icon

Review succeeds in taking the heat out of IfL conflict

FE news | Published in TES Newspaper on 9 September, 2011 | By: Joseph Lee

Promised examination of development for FE teachers prompts union to suspend threatened action

An independent review of professional development for FE teachers will be launched to head off the dispute between the lecturers’ union and the Institute for Learning (IfL).

The IfL’s role and the fees it charges to lecturers in FE is one of the subjects that the review, ordered by skills minister John Hayes, will be expected to address - but it is also due to examine other aspects of the workforce’s professionalisation.

The move has prompted the University and College Union (UCU) to suspend threatened legal action. The union claimed it would be unlawful to terminate the membership of lecturers taking part in the fee boycott without offering them an opportunity to plead their case at a disciplinary committee.

In return, the IfL is expected to put on hold its efforts to pressure members to end their boycott and pay the registration fees until the review reports in December.

Colleges have also been asked by the minister not to discipline staff who refuse to pay the fees - although the Association of Colleges said it was not aware of any institution that has done so yet.

The UCU welcomed the decision, which its members are likely to view as a vindication of their decision to boycott the IfL after it proposed to double its annual compulsory fee. An offer to compromise on the charges by the IfL was rebuffed as concerns grew among UCU members about the benefits of membership.

Opponents of the IfL’s compulsory fees were further boosted this week by news that the replacement for schoolteachers’ body the General Teaching Council for England will not charge.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “As the result from our recent ballot made abundantly clear, the current arrangements are not up to scratch. Boycotting the IfL has not been a decision our members have taken lightly, but to be effective as a professional body it must enjoy the confidence of the majority of practitioners. This is something the IfL does not have.

“It is essential that the forthcoming review does not shy away from asking awkward questions and that it hears directly from staff.”

The review is likely to prevent what could have been a lengthy stalemate between the union and the institute, which has sufficient reserves to hold out for more than six months of members withholding fees.

A spokeswoman for the IfL, which has stressed that most of its members are not represented by the UCU, said: “IfL welcomes an independent review of workforce professionalisation to assess and acknowledge the contributions already being made by IfL and to recommend ways of building on what has been achieved.

“In particular, IfL looks to the review to promote the professional interests of teachers and trainers.”

Subscribe to the magazine

as yet unrated

Comment (8)

  • "IfL welcomes an independent review of workforce professionalisation to assess and acknowledge the contributions already being made by IfL and to recommend ways of building on what has been achieved."

    Has something been achieved then?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    9 September, 2011


  • Pondering why the fee only doubled after the government were no longer picking up the tab, I wonder if once the IFL had proved to be "working" with government approval and demonstrated it could be compulsory, they felt safe hiking the fee. They couldn't do it earlier, because the government would not have stood for it if they were paying.

    I welcome the review. I welcome competition in the professional body arena for FE. And I welcome the "no charge" of the GTC replacement (though that could have its own problems if is too a closed shop).

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    9 September, 2011


  • Unfortunately, I don’t think the heat has been taken out of this conflict just yet, due in no short measure to the stance of the IFL. And we must remember, The Minister stated, “My aim would be to commission this review as soon as possible. However, in order to go ahead, I am asking that all parties now refrain from further action.”

    So how near are all parties to satisfying the minister’s terms before a Review can go ahead?

    The Department for Education, UCU and the AoC have all held their fire, fell into line in preparation and acceded to the spirit of the Minister’s request to refrain from further action.

    Regardless of the above, the IFL still continues to discriminate against those who are in dispute or disagree with them.

    IFL have banished 135,000 of it’s members, thereby denying them their right to participate in what IFL themselves call a ‘member-led’, professional organisation.

    Shortly after the disastrous membership renewal results last month, IFL introduced drastic measures in an effort to suppress debate and silence their critics. Those members who protested by boycotting and withholding their fees, they labelled ‘lapsed members’ and treated them as outcasts.

    This amounted to a staggering 70% of the total membership of 208,000 before the ‘lapsed member pogrom’, all of whom are now denied the so-called benefits of being a member. These ‘benefits’ include; participation in discussion groups, membership of social networks, access to organisational publications and important institutional updates.

    Perhaps more worryingly, ‘lapsed members’ were denied the right to stand for or vote in ‘democratic’ elections for the IFL’s Advisory Council.

    In short, while everyone else has stopped taking action against ‘lapsed members’ in an effort to create an atmosphere conducive to constructive discussions, IFL carried on as if nothing had changed, arrogantly ignored the Ministers requests to refrain and continued to discriminate against those they had ostracised and labelled ‘lapsed members’.

    Until IFL fall into line with everyone else, I can’t see a way forward on this matter.

    IFL must hang fire and cease their discrimination before any discussion can take place. Bearing this in mind, one wonders if there's a method behind their madness?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    9 September, 2011


  • @teachered

    "IfL continues to do nothing at all".

    So finally you acknowledge all the points I've been making?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    10 September, 2011


  • @teachered

    Thanks for showing us all a sample of the sort of salutation (Cretin) one would expect from a ‘professional’ who has graduated through the IFL’s ‘done nothing’ (except luxuriate on 75% of membership fees) ‘professional body’. This coming from one of IFL's role models, one who claims to be a ‘teacher trainer’ who works “with hundreds of new teachers each year”.

    Such unprofessional conduct is all the more disturbing when you consider this is one of the so-called ‘expert teachers’or ‘triple professionals’ who Toni Fazaeli recently praised in her statement: “I had the privilege last week of meeting 40 expert FE teachers and teacher trainers as they rigorously moderated the assessments of evidence from some 1,000 teachers wanting to gain the professional status of qualified teacher learning and skills (QTLS)”. All parties, please take note.

    Contrary to having ‘done nothing’, IFL have unilaterally ostracised 70% of their 208,000 members and devalued our profession to the point where they now advise Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) candidates to *cut and paste* stuff from their DTTLS course before the, what amounts to nothing more than a worthless electronic, self print, rubber stamped certificate is issued via email.

    Official advice posted on the IFL Website, which anyone who claims to be a teacher trainer should have known full well before claiming: “Indeed had you done this you undoubtedly would not have achieved” in response to a highly qualified teacher and QTLS holder who publicly renounced his QTLS award stating: “It is a worthless rubber stamp and I find it insulting”.

    IFL have also demonstrably failed to live up to their claim of being: “an independent body, led by the members, for the members”.

    To say IFL have "done nothing" is true! They've done nothing but devalue our profession through their ludicrous strategy of continuing to doing nothing. They should be representing the views of the 70% majority of our profession.

    The sooner they go, the sooner we will be able to regain the ground lost through the decidedly shady conduct of the IFL and its self-serving executives.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    10 September, 2011


  • Please notej the word (cretin) in my previous comment was origionally used by teachered as his opening salutation in a reply to my first comment.

    I don't know why teachered's comments have been removed but I would hope any objections to his unprofessional conduct have come directly from the professional organisation he so passionately supports.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    11 September, 2011


  • There will still be plenty of heat while the IFL exists. Make the IFL voluntary! Pay back the fees to those members who were bullied into joining. Pay back the money hoarded in the IFL bank account to FE colleges. Only then will the heat go out of it

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    19 September, 2011


  • blah blah blah! Stop talking!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    22 October, 2011


Add your comment

Subscribe to TES magazine
Join TES for free now

Join TES for free now

Four great reasons to join today...

1. Be part of the largest network of teachers in the world – over 2m members
2. Download over 600,000 free teaching resources
3. Get a personalized email of the most relevant resources for you delivered to your inbox.
4. Find out first about the latest jobs in education