Lecturers seek status equality
FE lecturers could be able to transfer their qualifications to schools using a new fast-track system as early as next year, under new proposals from the Institute for Learning (IfL).
With the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) currently consulting on an assessment-only route allowing college staff to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in schools, the FE teachers' membership body hopes to win support from its schools counterpart.
IfL is due to start talks with the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) next month to try to secure agreement on how to end the long- standing inequality over qualifications.
While QTS, given to schoolteachers after their probationary year, has always allowed an individual to teach in FE, schools cannot reciprocate for college lecturers with Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) awards.
The legislation means they can only be considered unqualified teachers in schools on lower pay unless they retrain, but the two bodies hope to agree on a short assessment programme to make the FE qualifications transferable.
Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of the IfL, said: "It's an unjust arrangement currently. What we hope and what we are expecting is for a rapid assessment route for those with QTLS through to QTS recognition.
"We are being pragmatic. But we think it is helpful to have some kind of orientation programme just as it would be helpful for schoolteachers coming into FE to have orientation on its history, its diversity of qualifications and so on.
"Staff need to know about the national curriculum, behaviour policies and the self-evaluation culture of a school."
Ms Fazaeli said that she hoped the change could be made to allow the first teachers to make the switch in 2010.
A spokeswoman for the GTC said the scope for allowing FE staff to become qualified teachers in schools by assessing them on the job was under consideration.
"As the professional bodies for teachers and trainers in schools and colleges, the GTC and the IfL collaborate closely," she said.
"The TDA is consulting on an assessment-only route to QTS at the moment and the GTC will be responding to the consultation once council members have considered their policy position."
The news comes as Ms Fazaeli carried out work-shadowing last week at Cornwall College with Bex Ferriday, one of the first lecturers to be awarded QTLS.
Ms Fazaeli said that when speaking to teachers in colleges, making a level playing field between qualifications in FE and in schools was often raised as a major concern.
"It came out unprompted as one of the issues that people wanted to talk about," said Ms Fazaeli.
Ms Ferriday, lead teacher at Cornwall College's School of Education and Training, said it had been worthwhile to gain the QTLS award, even though it was not currently accepted in schools and did not necessarily result in better pay.
"Being in teacher education, I meet lots of members of staff in other departments and increasingly they're emailing me to ask how they get QTLS," she said. "It means a lot. It's not about having letters after your name but just feeling like there is status in your skills as a lecturer."