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Definition of a professional

David Hunter (chief executive of Lifelong Learning UK) says I "failed to present a totally accurate picture" in my article (FE Focus, July 14) on lecturers' professional status.

Although I welcome feedback, I wonder to what extent the criticism is justified. He is right to mention the fact that there will be various routes to gain Qualified Teacher Learning Skills, but the fact remains that, after 2007, all new lecturers will have to be on one of these paths to be able to teach in FE.

And, as the Institute for Learning reports on its website, all unqualified teachers, trainers and tutors within the sector will be required to achieve QTLS within five years.

However, he will be aware that the article's main point was to consider who should be defining FE lecturers' professionalism. In this context, the appropriateness of the IfL awarding QTLS is questionable if described as part of the move towards professionalism.

As I suggested, though on paper this may appear as a positive step in the acceptance of lecturers' professional autonomy, when one considers the percentage of lecturers in FE who are members of the IfL, it is no wonder many are doubtful about representing lecturers' opinions.

I would be interested to know how many lecturers completed the Lifelong Learning UK's consultation questionnaire on QTLS. That is, of course, if it was LLUK's intentions to canvass their opinions.

Many hope that LLUK recognises these concerns and works with the IfL to ensure a greater proportion of current FE lecturers have been properly consulted.

Only by being directly involved will lecturers make their own journey towards genuine, independent and constructive professional status.

I hope this clarifies my article and that we are working towards a reinvigorated sector where well-qualified professionals can help more teenagers and adults to develop the skills for a 21st century community.

Nigel Newton

Lecturer and educational researcher

New College, Swindon

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