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IfL calls for government's FE workforce strategy to be republished

The Institute for Learning has called on the government to republish its workforce strategy for the further education sector.

Last month the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) released a 28-page document setting out its plans on what it saw as the challenges and priorities in FE and how it will help the sector “excel”.

It said 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.

However, the document was pulled from the government’s website the following day with a message saying it had been “published in error”, and it has yet to be reuploaded.

Shane Chowen (pictured), policy officer at the Institute for Learning (IfL), told TES: “We do not know why it has been held up, and will be interested to see whether some of the omissions we mentioned have been addressed in the published version.”

When the document was originally published the IfL called it a “missed opportunity” to invest in continuing professional development for teachers and trainers, and to have initial teacher training as a national policy.

The document said the government wanted to create an FE sector where “excellence is the norm”, with improvements to 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 said 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.

But Mr Chowen said: “For it to attract high-calibre individuals who can be trained and supported to be excellent in their practice, so that they can help develop the skills needed for economic growth, teaching in FE must be perceived as a profession.

“Yet the professional status of teachers and trainers was not mentioned in the strategy, nor was the value of professional body membership for teachers, at a time when the need for this is being flagged as very important for schoolteachers.

“IfL members need to know what the government’s strategy entails, as it could have far-reaching implications for the teaching and training profession and for how the sector is perceived by potential learners. We hope that the final document will be published very soon.”

A BIS spokeswoman told TES that the document is being worked on because skills minister Matt Hancock wanted to make some additions to emphasise the importance of maths and English and the particular challenges for the FE workforce with these subjects.

The original document has been archived on the Institute of Education's website

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