The government has finally republished its long-awaited workforce strategy for further education, setting out how it wants the sector to “excel”.
The 30 page document details the challenges and the priorities for FE and what the government is doing to help.
It confirms the previously announced news of "golden hellos" of up to £10,000 to tempt graduates to teach maths in FE colleges and training providers, and re-emphasises the government’s aim to put English and maths at the heart of education.
The strategy has been published to coincide with an announcement that reformed GCSEs will be taken by FE students who fail to get a good pass in English or maths by the end of school.
Skills minister Matt Hancock revealed that from 2017 the new, more rigorous GCSEs in English and maths will become the national standard qualifications for full-time 16-19-year-old students who have failed to achieve a good pass in those subjects by the age of 16.
The original workforce strategy document was published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in March, but pulled the next day.
Whereas the original set out several “key weaknesses” of FE in England, these are referred to as “challenges” and “issues” in the new document.
These include concerns over poor teaching standards, especially in maths, weak leadership and governance, lack of engagement with employers, the unattractiveness of FE as a career option for teachers and the ineffective use of technology.
However, in his foreword to the document Mr Hancock said the best of the FE sector is “truly world class” and standards need to be raised among all staff to match.
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), warned the plans to make GCSEs more demanding could result in more resits, which she claimed could put pupils off maths and English for life.
She also attacked the golden hellos as “deeply flawed”.
“It is hard to see why maths graduates who want to teach are going to choose a £10,000 incentive to teach in an FE college when they can get between £15,000 and £20,000 for teaching in a secondary school, and FE colleges pay less well than schools.
“And for those not committed to a career in teaching, there are so many more lucrative jobs open to maths graduates,” she said.