Professional registration to help raise lecturer status

More than 1,000 college lecturers will be part of the GTCS pilot for lecturer registration, which starts this month

Julia Belgutay

Registering lecturers will raise the status of the college teaching profession, says the chief executive of the GTCS

Formal registration will give college lecturers the professionalism and status many FE staff have been looking for, the chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) has said.

“It is about giving lecturers a status and a professionalism many of them have been looking for,” Ken Muir told Tes. 

He said that registering them in the same way school teachers are in Scotland would mean they were “recognised by the professional body for the teaching profession in Scotland” – a move that would help them feel less like the college sector is “seen as a step down from schools”.  

Lecturer registration, and the regulations that come with that, were introduced to Scottish FE in the 2017 agreement for lecturing staff on conditions of service. Now, over three years later, the pilot will see the first college staff actually join the register.

More: Why do we not value the voice of FE teachers?

Background: What is the role of a college lecturer?

Opinion: ‘Teaching HE in FE, I worked 40 hours on 18 hours' pay’

Long read: 'Teachers were thrown in at the deep end,' says Ken Muir

Dundee and Angus College, Forth Valley College and Glasgow Kelvin College were chosen to capture the breadth of lecturer expertise in Scotland’s colleges, with more than 1,000 lecturers involved in the pilot. Plans to engage other colleges will be developed based on the lessons learned from the pilot, the GTCS has said.

Mr Muir told Tes that challenges remained, including questions of how teaching staff in instructor roles can be included, but from this month, the teaching council would begin to register those at the pilot college who hold a Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) or a recognised primary or secondary teaching qualification with service in further education.

The GTCS is working on establishing what other teaching qualifications are held by lecturers in Scotland, so that a route to registration could be worked out for them. “By April 2022, we will need to have categories for lecturer registration, he said. 

During the pilot, the colleges and participating lecturers will work closely with GTCS to test, trial and feed back on systems and processes for lecturer registration. The work undertaken in the pilot will help ensure that GTCS’ systems and processes are optimised for the roll out of registration across the college sector.

Mr Muir said there were currently around 2,500 to 3,000 lecturers in Scotland who do not hold a TQFE qualification – and a shortage of institutions offering courses. The GTCS is hoping that, by spring 2021, a new online course can be accredited, and is working with a Scottish university on this.

“What has not been well understood is that registration isn’t solely a list of all the lecturers that work in Scotland. With that come regulations, as well,” said Mr Muir.

These, he said, included professional learning, which would be recorded as part of Professional Update the same way it is for teachers in Scottish schools, but also adhering to the professional standards and a new code of conduct.

One of the projects the GTCS is working on is a professional code for lecturers, which will lean on the professional code for teachers while taking account of the college context. This, he said, would set out expected behaviour both on and off campus: "With professionalism comes an expectation of standards being maintained." 

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said: “EIS-FELA welcomes the launch of the pilot registration project. Registration of college lecturers has been a long-standing policy of EIS-FELA. We believe that college lecturers deserve the professional recognition which registration brings and the acknowledgement that teaching in a college requires a body of knowledge and the development of skills and experience to deliver vocational and academic qualifications to a wide range of learners. 

“We will work with GTC Scotland and the colleges involved to support our members as they engage with the registration process. Their feedback will be key to ensuring that the registration model being developed is bespoke to the college sector, meeting lecturers’ needs and embedding career-long learning and development opportunities.

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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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