The route to parity and esteem

ASAN education lecturer who eagerly anticipates the forthcoming three-term inspection of my department's provision of FE initial teacher training, maybe I'm a turkey looking forward to Christmas.

However, coming into FE lecturing as a mid-career change many years ago, in common with 40 per cent of my colleagues at that time, I had no teaching qualification. I brought and taught my trade; collecting teaching and further qualifications, leading eventually to a doctorate, by means of a gradual, still continuing, process.

School (QTS) teaching is a graduate entry profession. FE lecturing is not. The anomaly of much FE teacher "training" lies in the curriculum conflation of PGCE (FE); academic subject lecturers, with their CertEd(FE); technical and vocational, tutor colleagues.

The majority of PGCE student lecturers enter their teacher training already equipped with the ability to think, read and write clearly at an academic level, whereas most technical and vocational CertEd (FE) student teachers do not. "Tec and Voc" lecturers are practical craftspeople able to "think and do" but taking longer than their graduate colleagues to grapple with media for the presentation of abstract concepts.

If the inspectors conclude that FE lecturing is a bipartite system, they will be brave indeed. DFES policy seeks to blur the boundaries between the technical and the academic, yet these boundaries exist and demarcate two equally valuable but very different strands of education, thus implying separate models of teacher education to service them.

PGCE (FE) students should be taught in subject-specific streams alongside QTS route student teachers. The best places for this to happen are the well established graduate schools of education in the academy. The CertEd (FE) must go to be replaced by a flexible entry foundation degree leading to a BEd (FE) qualification that may be taken part time and "in service".

This qualification could best be delivered by partnerships between the FE and the academy. An "all-graduate" FE profession of Qualified Teachers in Further Education (QTFE); delivering education, training and skills, validated by OFSTED's rigorous standards, could then honourably lay claim to parity of pay and esteem with our colleagues in schools.

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