The main parties set out their policy stalls

7th March 1997 at 00:00
Below is a summary of the positions of the three largest political parties, as indicated in their representatives' speeches to the conference.

Bryan Davies MP, shadow further higher education minister Labour believes that a coherent, rationalised framework for the recruitment, induction and professional development of further education teaching staff is now required.

While over 60 per cent of full-time teachers in further education have a recognised teaching qualification, more than half of those recruited to colleges do not possess one on entry and only a minority have qualified teacher status. Many lecturers also lack the key skills which are central to students' learning programmes and which are mandatory in GNVQs.

A Labour government will want to encourage colleges to make good progress in upgrading management skills.

In the face of significant changes, teachers have maintained good standards. Nevertheless, the Chief Inspector's report noted that over the past three years there has remained a persistent eight per cent of lessons which are unsatisfactory. This small proportion of weak teaching must be addressed.

First, we will consider targets for the accreditation of new entrants in further education teaching.

We will give consideration to specific targets for the accreditation of new entrants in further education teaching. For those entrants who do not possess an appropriate qualification, there should be a specified period after entry to teaching within which professional recognition must be obtained.

Second, we will review staffing issues. I cannot promise new resources but I am concerned that we address the situation if the increased employment of part-time staff leads to a decline in standards.

Low morale cannot be the basis for the future success of the sector. To secure an end to conflict, localised fragmentation and disruption, Labour will seek a return to a national bargaining framework for FE lecturers. That does not mean a return to the Silver Book. Colleges need flexibility.

Third, we will ensure that key skills attainment forms a part of appropriate pre-service and in-service FE teaching qualifications.

Finally, we will move - over an appropriate period of time - to integrate FE lecturers into the structure of our proposed General Teaching Council."

Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education and Employment "The challenges of the future are: * to manage growth within available funding. We remain committed to growth in student numbers, to increased participation and to wider access. But these developments will need to be carefully managed.

* to ensure that a higher percentage of students achieve their qualification goal.

* to provide opportunities for lifetime learning.

* to be responsive and flexible and to continue to widen access .

* to ensure that staff are well prepared professionally and engage in continuing professional development.

* to ensure that all providers of education and training become even more self-critical.

In conclusion, let me reaffirm the importance of the FE sector. The provision made must meet the market need, must be of high quality, must be reasonably priced and must be readily accessible. The FE sector can meet these challenges. "

Don Foster, Lib Dem education and employment spokesman "Our proposals tackle head-on two key problems facing us - student poverty and gross underfunding of the institutions - and they provide a framework for lifelong learning.

We would extend access, provide equitable support for all FE and HE students, eliminate the academic vocational divide.

* Increased investment in education - paid for, if necessary, by a penny on income tax.

* A funding boost for the FE sector, even though there is a limit to the increased funding that can come through general taxation.Employers and the country should continue to bear the largest proportion of cost. However, those who benefit personally from further or higher education, or both, should pay back some of the cost when they can.

* Each person over 18 would be able to register at the Learning Bank by opening an individual learning account to which the Government, employer and the individual would contribute. We would also introduce a 2 per cent remissible education and training levy on companies."

The three major political speeches to the FEDA conference will be on The TES Internet site from early next week

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