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Government's call for 'workforce excellence' in FE is 'missed opportunity'

Ministers' attempts to create "excellence" in the further education workforce is a "missed opportunity" to improve training in the sector, the Institute for Learning has said.

On Friday, the government released a 28-page document setting out its plans on what it sees as the challenges and priorities in FE and how it will help the sector "excel".

The report states the key issues facing the sector were a need for stronger leadership and management, greater engagement with business and a shortage of outstanding teaching among others. 

But the IfL has criticised the study, saying more could have been included to develop the profession. 

Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of the IfL, said: “The term 'workforce' is quaint and harks back to a bygone era, not a sector with highly trained, expert and trusted professionals.

“We welcome the strategy, but feel that it misses some important opportunities to invest in continuing professional development for teachers and trainers, as well as to have initial teacher training as a clear national policy.”

To create an FE sector where “excellence is the norm”, the government says it wants to improve the quantity, quality and professionalism of teachers and teaching, with an immediate priority in the key areas of maths and English and in teaching those with special educational needs.

It also wants to enhance the skills of teachers in using technology to support teaching and learning.

It says the sector must become more responsive to employer needs, and engage businesses in the design of qualifications and curriculum, staff development programmes and vocational training.

It also wants to see improvement in the quality of governance, leadership and management.

The Education and Training Foundation will play a key role in leading workforce improvement.

Skills minister Matthew Hancock said: “The success of this depends on the people in Further Education – leaders, teachers and support staff. We need to support and encourage them to excel

“The challenges are huge and success depends on working together. But the rewards are also huge. If we are successful, FE will be truly world class."

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