Skip to main content

GTC to review Higher Still college-secondary partnerships

Higher Still will blur the academic edges between secondary schools and further education colleges and lead to lecturers teaching in schools, Hugh Pollock, a lecturer at Dumfries and Galloway College, told the General Teaching Council in Falkirk last week.

He predicted schools would not have the extra resources to deliver sizeable chunks of the reform programme and would be forced to tap into colleges' expertise in vocational subjects.

The GTC agreed to review the links between secondaries and colleges and the differences between teachers who have to be registered with the council and lecturers who do not.

The council is keen to encourage partnership arrangements between schools and colleges, but attempts to unify post-16 academic and vocational courses could lead to divisive clashes between the two sectors.

Mr Pollock, a prominent member of the College Lecturers' Association, told the teacher-dominated council: "This is not an attempt to strike fear into the hearts of the secondary sector but an attempt to look at the benefits for pupils." Lecturers were not trying to steal teachers' jobs.

He envisaged lecturers helping schools with vocational courses rather than teaching core subjects, such as English, mathematics or French.

"Higher Still is talking about courses, not discrete subjects. There are areas where schools would accept there are problems and there are staff in FE who should be accessible to schools," he said.

Mr Pollock, however, said maintenance of teaching standards - the GTC's greatest concern about FE staff working in secondaries - worked both ways. "I do have a quiet shudder when I see some of the things that are being taught in schools. Do teachers have the qualifications to teach some Scotvec modules?" he asked.

In his own area, Mr Pollock said schools were working with the college to deliver GSVQs in business administration but it would work better "if we could cut out transporting kids from one building to another".

Mr Pollock said colleagues aiming to teach in secondaries should possess a teaching qualification in further education, be GTC registered, employed by a college working in partnership with a school, and teach only subject areas in which they hold a qualification.

Elinor McKenzie, Clydebank College and former president of the College Lecturers' Association, said FE had specialisms such as law, engineering or social work which schools should use. Higher Still would mean more liaison.

Tony Finn, GTC education convener and head of St Andrew's High, Kirkcaldy, broadly supported greater co-operation but called for safeguards.

There was a risk some lecturers would be teaching beyond their competence, and there were lecturers working in colleges without GTC registration. Recent financial pressures on colleges had seen attempts to lure pupils who would have been better off at school.

Barbara Clark, president of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, emphasised that qualifications and competency was "a big issue for this council". There was "a great mass of confusion" about how partnerships would work.

Marie Allan, former SSTA president, added: "There are many people in FE teaching subjects in which they are not qualified and definitely not to the standards we would wish for." Teachers, she believed, could teach other areas if they had the resources.

John Cairney, a Glasgow physical education teacher, urged the council to take its time developing a position. "Higher Still will not be a case of 'on your marks, get set, go'", he said. "It could be an untidy implementation."

Ivor Sutherland, GTC registrar, said it was a "strategic issue" ripe for consideration but underlined the "perception of inequality" felt by FE lecturers who could not switch easily into secondary teaching.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you