Matter of honour

23rd October 2009 at 01:00

Readers may be shocked to know that the Institute for Learning (IfL) has just informed its members that it has awarded honorary membership to Bill Rammell MP, former minister for lifelong learning, and Sue Dutton, former deputy chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC). It may be the final straw that breaks the reformists' back and strengthens the arm of the abolitionists.

The history of the IfL reveals a series of opportunities missed - but this is a misreading of the type of professional body we would want for our sector.

We made our welcome cautious but held on to the belief that if the IfL could end up as an independent body with an active membership and a new set of agreed professional standards, a difference could be made to our standing within the sector.

This latest major blunder raises real questions about any optimism still held. Mr Rammell, famous for his robust justifications for cutting adult education and overseeing the resolutely failing demand-led system of Train to Gain, was characterised by his failure to recognise our professional standing.

And the AoC has not delivered parity of pay with the school teachers - a minimum standpoint to measure commitment to our professionalism. The current AoC offer of 1.5 per cent on pay will ensure we are left further behind.

Any reasonable teacher in the sector could be forgiven for casting the IfL as an agent of the Government and management, rather than one for teachers. So if you are listening, IfL - these honours are not ours and cannot be awarded in our name.

Until the IfL is genuinely and democratically steered by members more fully in touch with the concerns of teachers at the chalkface, it will continue to have limited legitimacy.

Sasha Callaghan, Immediate past president, UCU

Maire Daley, Chair, UCU Education Committee

Alan Whitaker, Chair, UCU Further Education Committee.

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