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Exclusion zone

Agony Uncleanswers your questions.

I remain very anxious about the increase in school pupils entering college.

I switched to FE after a brief spell in an inner-city comprehensive in the 1970s. A year was enough. I needed to feel valued. I needed to feel safe at work. I needed to feel that I was a teacher not a policeman. The environment in FE is changing fast and, while I have found 20 years'

experience has helped me cope, younger colleagues show increasing signs of stress and disillusionment. They are simply not prepared, having qualified for college not secondary schools. Many of these youngsters are the type excluded from schools or with complex learning difficulties, making the situation all the more ridiculous.

Perhaps the unions have missed this one, heady on the thought that what you describe may finally deliver the Holy Grail of "pay parity". Yes, there is certainly something very odd in the fact that a sector that still has a high proportion of unqualified staff or, as you describe, staff who sailed the calmer seas of a PGCE in FE or equivalent, should now face the prospect of teaching an even higher proportion of the disaffected and dysfunctional.

The point is that the new measures will also mean the talented, docile and ordinary may also choose an FE college. I think the day will come when there really won't be much difference between the sectors, with competition supposedly boosting standards. What is clear is that staff need support and in many cases additional training to cope with the changing face of FE.

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