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A small price to pay

I was pleased to see Joseph Lee's observation that the pound;68-a-year fee for membership of the Institute for Learning (IfL) is not the prime issue ("Anger is less about fees than feeling", 11 February). This membership fee makes the IfL one of the least expensive professional bodies in the country. That many of our members feel undervalued is also true. In a recent survey, members' priority was for the IfL to improve their collective voice and status.

The Government invested in the IfL initially to establish a strong professional body for all teachers and trainers. If we are, however, to play an authentic role as a fully established and independent body, we should become self-financing and self-sustaining.

Promoting continuing professional development is central to the IfL; advancements in the nature of knowledge, brain science and the use of technology mean that learners can no longer learn effectively unless their teachers are continuously learning, too.

Mandatory membership causes some resentment, but being a substantially larger organisation gives us more influence to raise the status and voice of our members.

Change is difficult and takes time. It is hard to pay willingly for something when previously somebody else did this for you. Our advisory council and board, elected from the membership, has worked hard to keep the fee as low as possible. After basic rate tax relief, it equates to 70p a week until 30 September 2012. We think professional status is worth it.

The IfL will not accept that the professionalism and professional status of teachers and trainers through membership of the IfL can be squandered, after the sector created it and when teachers and trainers say clearly that they value it. Those elected to govern the IfL, along with the unions and employer bodies involved in its governance, will continue to take it forward. That is our responsibility.

Sue Crowley, Chair, Institute for Learning.

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