IfL closes after twelve years

The Institute for Learning, the professional body for FE teachers in England, closed today after twelve years and handed its legacy to the Education and Training Foundation.

Members of the institute who renewed their membership until March 2015 will become part of the ETF’s professional membership.

Next month the ETF is due to launch a major consultation on plans for a new professional membership body, which it is hoped will be launched in April next year.

At its height, IfL membership numbered more than 180,000, but this had dropped to less than 35,000 earlier this year.

However, neither body was able to say how many IfL members had transferred to the ETF.

Sue Crowley, the IfL’s elected chair, said today was a “sad occasion” for many.

“This is a day to reflect on IfL’s many achievements, which included ensuring that the voices of teachers and trainers were heard, and leading a successful campaign for Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status, conferred by IfL, to be recognised in law as equal to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) for teaching in schools,” she said.

She said IfL had helped changed the language around professionalism, with FE teachers now seen as ‘dual professionals’ – experts in their vocational or subject field as well as in teaching and learning – as well as having made a “real difference” to the way the sector thinks about CPD.

The ETF said it worked closely with the IfL to ensure the transfer process was “seamless” and would continue to provide support to teachers and trainers.

David Russell, its chief executive, said: “Taking on IfL’s legacy is a huge privilege. It is sad to say goodbye to the dedicated and passionate team at IfL who have carried the torch for teaching professionalism in our sector, but I am excited about the future, and look forward to shaping a fresh membership offer that meets the evolving needs of practitioners and the whole sector.”

The IfL endured a turbulent period during its final years; in 2011 it was forced to raise its membership fee from £30 to £68 a year to balance the books after its annual £5 million government funding was cut.

This led to a furious backlash from the University and College Union (UCU), with tens of thousands of members boycotting the IfL.

The following year, following a critical report that concluded it had not won the backing of organisations that should be its partners, the institute reverted to its original status as a voluntary professional membership body.

Earlier this year outgoing chief executive Toni Fazaeli told TES membership had fallen from 181,000 to just over 33,500, about a quarter of the profession. 

The closure was announced in July after the IfL’s board concluded that without further substantial investment or alternative sources of revenue, its financial position would not be sustainable in the long term.

Related stories:

IfL members will have 'key role' to play after organisation's demise – July 2014

Institute for Learning to close over fears it will run out of money – July 2014

Drained of members but ‘here to stay’  – April 2014

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