Lecturers' banishment from schools to end

4th March 2011 at 00:00
Alison Wolf recommends `crazy' rule is dropped in her review of vocational education

A "crazy" historical anomaly preventing FE lecturers from teaching in schools is to come to an end.

As a result of the Wolf review of 14-19 vocational education, published yesterday, QTLS (qualified teacher learning and skills) status is finally set to be recognised in schools, placing college lecturers on an equal footing with their school counterparts, who are allowed to teach in colleges.

Until now, school teachers with QTS (qualified teacher status) have been allowed to work in colleges, but FE lecturers have not been able to teach in schools.

The report by Professor Alison Wolf, an expert in the relationship between education and the labour market who is based at King's College London, said: "This will allow schools to recruit qualified professionals to teach courses to school level (rather than bussing pupils to colleges) with clear efficiency gains."

Professor Wolf told The TES the discrepancy was "crazy", adding: "I can't see any justification for it. These are two nationally recognised teaching qualifications; they should be viewed as equivalent and they should be treated the same way."

She also called for guidance to allow vocational experts without QTLS status to take classes unsupervised in order to enable more "high calibre" teaching.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: "ASCL strongly welcomes the recommendation that qualified FE teachers be allowed to work in schools. We have been saying for years that this is a historical anomaly that needs to be addressed and it is gratifying that the Government has listened."

Professor Wolf also said it was a "national scandal" that some 16 to 19- year-old students do not have good GCSEs in English and maths, and recommended that they should be required to take steps towards obtaining the qualifications if they do not have them when they enrol.

Professor Wolf acknowledged the "big upheaval" her recommendation would cause, but insisted colleges could afford to foot the bill.

"I feel very strongly about this one. Maths and English are required right through life. The funding levels are not that low, it's not like there's no money in the system," she said.

Professor Wolf also called for a fixed level of funding for all FE students, varying between courses. "The funding should follow the student," the report said.

It called on the Government to look at "greatly increasing" the number of low-achieving students who progress directly to level 2 programmes at 16, and called for an end to the "micromanagement" of the FE sector.

A set of "general principles" on the assessment, contact time and general structure of 16-19 vocational qualifications should be drawn up, the review added, with students encouraged to follow "non qualifications-based activity" and colleges told to avoid teaching "entirely occupational" courses.

But Professor Wolf insisted FE funding and performance measures should focus on "employment outcomes" rather than merely on "the accrual of qualifications".

She called for an evaluation of the general education component of 16-19 apprenticeships, warning there should be sufficient non-vocational content to allow students to progress to further or higher education.

Students should also not be prevented from taking equal or even lower- level qualifications if they want to switch subject or sector, the report said, adding: "That is their choice."

Professor Wolf called for the legal right of colleges to enrol under-16s to be "made explicit".

The review also recommended that it should not be made compulsory for qualifications to comply with the qualifications and credit framework (QCF), which was drawn up to recognise smaller steps of learning and enable students to build up qualifications bit by bit.

Professor Wolf called for education secretary Michael Gove to be given temporary powers to approve established qualifications which play an "important role in the vocational education system" but which have not yet been approved by sector skills councils.

The Department for Education's formal response to the review is expected in the spring.

WOLF REVIEW: KEY POINTS

- QTLS status to be recognised in schools.

- 16 to 19-year-olds without good GCSEs in English and maths to be required to take steps towards achieving this.

- Fixed levels of funding per student for vocational qualifications.

- Focus on "employment outcomes" rather than merely on "the accrual of qualifications".

- Subsidies for employers who take on apprentices.

- Legal right of colleges to enrol under-16s to be made explicit.

- No requirement for qualifications to comply with qualifications and credit framework.

  • Original headline: Lecturers' banishment from schools is to end

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