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Award to give lecturers professional status

Moves to give lecturers the same status as schoolteachers were boosted this week with the announcement of a new qualification.

The qualified teacher learning and skills award is aimed at recognising the professionalism of lecturers and raising the standards of teaching and learning.

Teachers entering further education have been required to gain a qualification since 2001, which many only work towards while in their jobs.

Last year the Office for Standards in Education was very criticical of the quality of initial teacher training in the sector.

The new award comes in two parts: first, lecturers will undertake about 30 hours of "'guided learning", which will give them a "passport to teaching".

Workplace development will follow with the lecturer being given up to five years to acquire practical skills.

The award will recognise that teachers entering the learning and skills sector come from a variety of backgrounds and require different levels of support. The award will be piloted over the next two years and fully implemented by 2007.

Kim Howells, minister for lifelong learning, said the reform would enable lecturers to enjoy a professional status.

"All students in further education deserve teachers and trainers who are both expert in their subjects and skilled at teaching. What happens in the classroom, in the workshop, in the laboratory and online affects the life chances of 6 million learners a year.

"We must attract, motivate and retain the very best people into further education. Initial training gives teachers the foundation on which they build their careers and which equips them for the future."

Fento, the national training organisation, gave a warm welcome to the award. Susan Edge, standards verification manager, said it is vital that post-16 teachers gain similar esteem to school staff.

"This will only be achieved through training and development that is benchmarked against nationally-recognised occupational standards," she said.

The lifelong learning skills council, LLUK, will review standards for teaching and learning to ensure they fit the new proposals. David Hunter, chief executive, described the award as a "licence to practise". The aim was for a flexible and accessible framework of unit-based qualifications, he said.

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