Defence of IfL's distinctive role
Following your report "UCU congress in brief: Institute attacked", June 4, about lecturers calling for the University and College Union to survey branches on whether the Institute for Learning (IfL) should be abolished, and in response to their calls for UCU members to become more involved in IfL, I want to reconfirm that the IfL values working in partnership with unions, including the Association for College Management, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the National Union of Students, UCU and Unison.
As the professional body for frontline teachers and trainers, IfL has a strong focus on giving benefits to members to support their practice, raising the status of the profession and giving teachers and trainers a voice to influence policy that affects them and their learners so that policy is most effective at the point of delivery.
IfL is akin to other professional bodies, such as the Law Society and the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), for example. It is not a trade union. A letter we received from a further education teacher on Friday suggesting "we need IfL to fly the flag for the profession" is typical of the supportive comments we hear from our membership.
IfL was created in 2002, by and for FE teachers, with Natfhe (now UCU) and the Association of Colleges (AoC) as key founding partners. Today, UCU is still a key partner organisation, with a representative on IfL's advisory council who has also been elected to IfL's non-executive board. IfL respects the unions' distinctive role in relation to pay and terms and conditions and recognises that these issues are properly their domain.
IfL's distinctive role is to raise the status of the profession, to offer teachers and trainers benefits that support their practice and give them a voice to influence policy. It is committed to teachers and trainers across FE and skills, and to supporting their vital work in upskilling and reskilling the nation, strengthening the country's social fabric and contributing to its economic recovery and success. We have not heard any trade unions opposing this.
Sue Crowley, Chair, Institute for Learning.