College lecturers to ease teaching crisis

8th January 1999 at 00:00
COLLEGE lecturers will be drafted into schools to alleviate teacher shortages, the head of further education training predicted this week.

Qualified teacher status for FE lecturers - allowing them to teach in schools - could be achieved within five years, the Government has said.

FE staff would be in great demand, according to Terry Melia, chair of FENTO, the national training organisation for further education.

Mr Melia, formerly a senior figure in the schools inspectorate, said: "I hope that one of the first things FENTO will do is to work with higher education and the Teacher Training Agency to make sure that the standards we develop are transferable."

The divide between colleges and schools - exacerbated when colleges left local authority control in 1993 - may narrow as schools seek to enlist newly-qualified teachers from FE to tackle "future needs and shortages", Mr Melia said. Reports last week put the number of unfilled school teaching posts at 10,000.

Mr Melia said: "There may be some specific elements that are different, but a lot of the basic generic skills are the same.

"If you compare our standards with those developed by the TTA you will find that there are many similar features."

Standards for FE's would-be teachers will be launched at a conference in London later this month. The 50-page document lists the essential skills and knowledge required to "perform effectively" as an FE teacher.

Mr Melia said that most experienced college lecturers would meet the standards and denied that the prospect of gaining QTS would discourage some people from entering the profession.

Currently 40 per cent of FE lecturers have no qualification above A-level. Unqualified lecturers could receive on-the-job training and would have to attain QTS within a certain time, he said.

The proposal is likely to meet with the approval of main lecturers' union NATFHE.

Last month its general secretary Paul Mackney welcomed FENTO, saying: "We want professional qualifications - recognised in schools and higher education."

Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett is understood to want to see all FE teachers achieve qualified teacher status within five years.

Underlining the the scale of teacher shortages, TES adverts for secondary teachers soared this week and unions warned of a crisis in recruitment.

Secondary schools have placed 439 adverts in today's TES - a massive 140 per cent rise on the equivalent edition last year.

Adverts for primary schools, which so far have largely escaped major recruitment problems, are up by more than a third. Almost 800 jobs are advertised today.

Last year was particularly busy as schools sought to replace older teachers and heads who had rushed to quit before new retirement rules came into force.

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