Lecturers complain of repetitious qualifications

8th October 2010 at 01:00
Their higher-level exams are set for overhaul

Teacher qualifications for the FE sector face an overhaul as lecturers' organisations say they are forced to repeat too much work to gain higher-level qualifications, FE Focus has learnt.

Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK), the sector skills council for FE, has launched a review of the three-year-old qualifications, which were brought in following legislation designed to professionalise the FE teaching community.

But the organisation has promised that the changes to the three-stage qualifications will be evolution rather than revolution.

An LLUK spokeswoman said: "The take-up of these qualifications has been phenomenal: 15,000 people take them a year. We need to make sure they include the full skillset that we need in the sector."

Part of the review will examine how the lower-level Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) and Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (CTLLS), often taught in-house by FE bodies, fit with the higher-level qualification often studied at universities, the Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS).

This is likely to be welcomed by lecturers' organisations, which say many universities have simply transferred their former PGCE courses, forcing trainee lecturers to duplicate work already done in the lower-level qualifications.

Lee Davies, deputy chief executive of the Institute for Learning (IfL), said: "This is the big issue for us. PTLLS is a requirement, but there's no exemption when someone goes on to do the diploma in HE. HE institutions are their own masters when it comes to the curriculum, but our members are saying it's a real issue."

He said IfL would like to see firmer guidance to encourage universities to split their qualifications into modules so that trainee lecturers who had already done some of the work in previous qualifications could gain credit.

It would also help trainees who transferred from one college to another during their qualification period, and needed to complete the course at a different institution.

Dan Taubman, national official at the University and College Union, said the higher qualification was also too time consuming for some staff. He said: "There's an issue for part-time teachers who don't have a huge workload, teaching two, four or six hours a week and having to take DTLLS. It's a problem in adult and community learning in particular, but also in FE colleges."

IfL wants to see the qualifications path for trainers and assessors merged with those for lecturers. Currently they take separate qualifications that cannot easily translate into PTLLS, CTLLS and DTLLS.

"We have a structure that makes it difficult for people working in `learning and development' to move into the FE teaching qualification," Mr Davies said.

He said the Ifl also believed the qualifications needed modules on using technology for learning. An IT requirement was intentionally left out of the qualifications originally, but Mr Davies said lecturers were increasingly expected to use technology and social media in their classes.

Mentoring is consistently identified as a weakness in FE teacher training, especially compared with the schools system, Mr Davies said.

He said FE needed to find ways for even small, subcontracting providers to have a reduced timetable and a mentor with experience in their subject while they completed their training.

The review is due to be completed in March, with any changes to be implemented next summer.

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