New ministers must get our input on FE

28th May 2010 at 01:00

In articulating their wishes for further education and skills ("Starter's orders: a wish list for the new Government's consideration", May 7), six leaders have set out a purposeful and ambitious vision of what the sector can achieve with more freedom and the recognition it deserves. We welcome their ambitions.

The Institute for Learning's wish for the new government is that it should listen to teachers and trainers across further education and skills, to get real insights into frontline practitioners' perspectives on the needs of learners and employers. We think the Government must make policy for further education with the involvement of teachers and trainers and their professional body in its design - not just top-down. What government would make policy for health without listening to the voice of the medical royal colleges?

Seeking teachers' and trainers' views will enable new ministers to gauge the impact of policy on the ground. IfL wants the new government to trust teaching professionals and draw on their wisdom, and celebrate and commit to the highest-quality teaching and training across further education and skills. The country needs this.

IfL welcomes the coalition parties' beliefs about education: first, that "the single most important thing for a good education . is access to a good teacher" and that a government "invests wisely to boost frontline teaching and training and its effectiveness"; and second, that all should "receive an excellent education . to ensure they succeed in life".

How disappointing it was that these manifesto commitments - from the Conservatives and Lib Dems respectively - were specifically for schools and not further education. Lord Browne's review has a strong emphasis on the quality of teaching in higher education.

IfL trusts - and hopes - that the absence of overt commitment to quality teaching and training in FE is one of omission, not commission. The institute looks forward to discussions with the new government, and hopes its next set of agreements on education can redress the balance and focus on brilliant teaching and learning for all learners in further education.

IfL's message is that professionally qualified and expert teachers and trainers are central to helping us out of recession and building strong communities. Now is the time for high-return investment in frontline professionals.

Toni Fazaeli, Chief executive, Institute for Learning.

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