Professionalism will cost ministers;Opinion;Letter

5th February 1999 at 00:00
I READ with interest reports on the qualifications of further education lecturers (TES, January 8). I am sure that many in the sector would welcome a move to ensure that all college teaching staff have qualified-teacher status.

Perhaps this would be a significant step towards raising morale, after years of having our professionalism queried and actively eroded. However, can the Government afford to pay lecturers at a rate that reflects such a status?

I hold four postgraduate qualifications in education. When I transferred from schools into FE I held a postgraduate certificate in education with distinction, and a diploma in the practice of science education.

While working in an FE college I was awarded my master's in science education. I have since completed a doctorate in education. I have been lucky to work in a college where staff development has continued to be seen as important.

When some of my adult students learned of my new academic status they asked if I would be rewarded with a pay rise. When I informed them that actually my salary was indefinitely "frozen", and that I had not been awarded cost-of-living increases for some years, they thought this was an incredible state of affairs.

My colleagues do not share the naivete of the students: they mostly assume that I will simply use my PhD to help me move on to a better job.

If the Government is serious about wanting a highly-qualified and professional body of FE teachers it should act now to resolve the contracts dispute, instigate national pay scales and ensure annual pay review.

Dr Keith Taber 3 Mason Drive Harold Wood, Essex

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