MPs back 'immediate' right for FE staff to teach in schools

12th February 2010 at 00:00
Those with QTLS status should be allowed to tutor post-14 pupils, committee concludes

Qualified further education lecturers should be able to teach teenagers in schools with immediate effect, MPs said this week.

A report by the Department for Children, Schools and Families select committee said that FE teachers with Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status are prevented from teaching in schools because of an "unintended consequence" of legislation that "equates a specific qualification with a particular type of institution rather than the needs of the learners within them".

Currently, those with QTLS must be graduates and must first gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) before they can teach in schools.

The report said: "At the very least, teachers with QTLS status should immediately be able to work as a qualified teacher in schools if they are teaching post-16, even post-14, pupils."

The report said that the lack of transferability between the FE and schools sectors was becoming more of a problem in the context of the 14-19 reforms, including the introduction of diplomas which mean young people are taught on vocational programmes in both schools and colleges.

But the report also admitted that a significant hurdle remained in that school teaching was a graduate profession, whereas many people teaching in colleges with professional and high level vocational qualifications did not necessarily also have a degree.

It said that despite the efforts of higher education providers, the General Teaching Council for England, the Institute for Learning (IfL) and others, it would take a change in legislation to overcome the discrepancy between the FE and school teaching professions.

"Some of those who submitted evidence to us suggested that there is a case for reassessing the notion of school teaching as an `all degree' profession, and that consideration should be given to regarding certain qualifications and accredited experiences as equivalent to a degree for purposes of QTS in particular curriculum areas," the report added.

The IfL welcomed the committee's recommendations on immediate access to post-16 teaching in schools for QTLS-status FE staff.

Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of the IfL, said: "The IfL believes that 14- to 19-year-old learners - regardless of whether they are in school, college or provider settings - should have the chance to benefit from the vocationally grounded and up-to-date expertise offered by FE teachers and trainers."

The Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers said that it fully supported efforts to improve the transfer of qualified teachers between FE and schools.

But executive director James Noble-Rogers warned against an immediate deregulation. "We have got to be careful because although we can map QTLS and QTS, there are differences. And now that school teaching is moving towards a masters-level profession we cannot go the other way and remove the graduate standard," he said.

John Bangs, assistant general secretary of teaching union the NUT, disagreed with the report's call for immediate access to schools for QTLS status staff. "I have no problem with the principle of transferability," he said. "It is making it consistent that is important."

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