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Five-year plan for greatness;FE Focus

NEW teacher training standards for colleges will make lecturers some of the most sought-after professionals in education and industry within five years, the architects of new further education qualifications predict.

Plans for far-reaching reforms to set minimum training standards for all FE lecturers will be unveiled by Baroness Blackstone, the further and higher education minister, at a national conference later this month.

The qualifications are aimed at raising teaching standards in FE. But sector leaders are aware that raised standards will bring new competitive pressures, as the employability of lecturers will increase.

An Association of Colleges spokeswoman said: "IT and accounting are already areas where business is having real recruitment problems. This proposal is both a good and a bad thing. It makes the profession more attractive and gives better opportunities to staff. But it also places us in a more competitive environment."

Terry Melia, chairman of FENTO, the national training organisation for FE, also predicts that qualified college lecturers will be recruited in droves to help solve dire shortages in schools.

The Teacher Training Agency for schools said ministers must decide whether lecturers should be allowed to teach in schools, possibly undermining FE expansion proposals.

The Department for Education and Employment-sponsored conference in London gives the first public opportunity for people in FE to examine the new FENTO standards.

Guidelines for initial and in-service teacher training range from the need for a clear grasp of professional knowledge, learning theory and different methods teaching teaching, to the understanding of the role of further education in the wider social context.

There is a strong emphasis on the need for team-working and the development of skills for working in a range of settings, from colleges and schools to the workplace and the wider community.

The guidelines and criteria proposed in a 50-page blueprint of national standards for teaching and supporting learning in FE reflect the Government's inclusive learning agenda. The document produced by FENTO suggests a more exacting training agenda than that required for school teacher training.

Skills and attributes expected of a qualified FE teacher are very similar to those outlined in documents for schools from the Teacher Training Agency. They include clear powers of self-critical reflection, problem-solving, creativity, handling conflict in the classroom and establishing effective working relationships.

The range of key areas of teaching are also similar to those underpinning many school-teacher training courses: assessing learners' needs, planning and preparation of learning programmes, the ability to develop a range of teaching and learning techniques and effective asessment of what students have learned.

The FENTO conference on standards for teaching in FE, sponsored by the DFEE, is at the New Connaught Rooms, London, on January 25 and costs pound;29. To register, fax Cap Brown at the AOC on 0171 827 4664.

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