THE pay gap between school teachers and further education lecturers must be closed if teenagers are to get a more flexible education that includes vocational learning at colleges, inspectors have said.
School teachers are better paid than their peers in colleges. And the Office for Standards in Education recommended this week that the Government should review pay and conditions for the two groups to ensure "greater comparability for similar work".
Ofsted reported that difficulties in recruitment were hampering reforms to the education of 14 to 19-year-olds, who are being encouraged to take more vocational courses and move more easily between colleges and schools.
Inspectors said potential recruits were increasingly aware that pay and conditions in FE colleges were worse than schools. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers estimates that lecturers earn between pound;5,000 and pound;10,000 less per year than teachers in comparable posts, as well as getting shorter holidays.
The inspectors said there was a clear consensus in schools, colleges and education authorities that the issue had to be be addressed if 14 to 19 reforms are to succeed.
Inspectors examined 12 local education authorities to spot successes and problems with teaching of this age group. They said that more should be done to help LEAs understand the confusing funding system. Another problem was that few authorities had a well-defined vision of what attributes students should have by 19.
A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said that Ofsted's findings would influence 14 to19 policy and funding decisions but there were no plans for a new review of teachers' pay. The DfES is supporting the Association of Colleges' drive to modernise FE pay and is calling for closer links between pay and performance.
Gerald Imison, ATL joint acting general secretary, said it was vital that FE lecturers received the same pay as teachers as 14 to 19 education was becoming more "blurred".