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Lecturers protest over standards of training

Further education qualifications are being threatened by inferior standards established for vocational trainers, it was claimed this week.

FE members of the Educational Institute of Scotland heard that the Training and Development Lead Body, the UK employer-led group which sets standards for the training industry, was to blame.

The EIS's College Lecturers' Association is now seeking a meeting with the Scottish Vocational Education Council. "These standards represent a derecognition of lecturers' qualifications and expertise," Dick Dickson, a member of the CLA's executive, protested.

"Anyone can take them and anyone can get them as well," Kirsty Devaney of Dundee College told the association's annual conference in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Scotvec has attempted to meet lecturers' concerns by exempting staff who hold an FE or secondary teaching qualification. All others, including primary-trained teachers, must have the lead body qualification. It is understood, however, that the deadline for achieving it is likely to be extended by a year to December 1997.

Mr Dickson countered that the lead body and employers are calling the tune and demand no exemptions.

Bill Greenock, principal of Clydebank College, told The TES Scotland that the road industry training board insisted that all SVQ assessors hold the lead body qualification. Mr Greenock commented: "We are faced with the fact that there are those in the outside world who insist on some things with which the educational community might disagree."

He added: "While I may share the EIS-CLA disquiet that there are these hoops to jump through, we have to recognise the realities if we want the work. "

Lecturers are concerned that they may come under management pressure to take the lead body qualification because of financial pressures on colleges. Although Mr Greenock denied staff would be "dragooned", it seems clear that the local enterprise companies whose recognition is crucial may leave colleges with little option.

A letter to John McFall, Labour's Scottish home affairs spokesman, from Donald MacInnes, chief executive of the Dunbartonshire LEC, stated: "The lead body standards aim to ensure a quality standard of vocational training."

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