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Maintaining professionalism

Stephen Jones's article about lecturers teaching themselves (April 24) raised some interesting points about continuing professional development and dual professionalism in the further education and skills sector.

Teachers and trainers in the sector are dual professionals who have subject or vocational expertise as well as teaching or training expertise. Through CPD, they maintain their subject specialism and the skills and knowledge required to teach it effectively, thereby strengthening both aspects of their professionalism.

As the professional body for teachers and trainers in the sector, the Institute for Learning promotes a highly personalised notion of professionalism, based on trusting individuals to determine their own priorities. Professionalism demands continuous learning from experience and reflection, too, and we encourage teachers to be analytical of their own performance, using this critical thinking to plan their development needs.

The notion of a vocational and academic divide in support for professional development is not one that the institute recognises. Teachers and trainers should have CPD to maintain their subject expertise, whether vocational or academic.

The institute also values the Learning and Skills Improvement Service programmes for teachers and trainers that have a subject focus, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the subject learning coach programme.

Across the sector, teachers and trainers are members of the institute and also of more than 100 professional bodies or associations linked to their subject or vocational areas, highlighting the extent to which dual professionalism is a feature of the sector.

The institute knows that by combining dual professionalism with a deep commitment to serving learners and local communities, teachers and trainers across the country are making a powerful and positive difference to those affected by the worst economic downturn in decades, helping them to regain confidence, upskill and reskill. I hope teachers and trainers are supported by their employers in pursuing CPD opportunities - for both their subject and vocational areas and their teaching methods - and that they get the public recognition they deserve for their professionalism and dedication.

Toni Fazaeli, Chief executive, Institute for Learning.

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