We were delighted to read Stephen Jones's article about the Institute for Learning (December 14, 2007). But with regard to membership fees, there is no difference in the position of an established teacher (pre- September 2007) from that of a new teacher in terms of the Government's commitment to fund the annual cost of registration.
While it is true that there is uncertainty over the duration of the Government's commitment to fund registration, this applies to all government expenditure. In his speech to this year's UCU congress, Bill Rammell outlined the Government's intention to fund the cost of registration for all FE college teachers required by regulation to become members of the Institute for Learning, extending this to all those teaching in other Learning and Skills Council-funded provision, who must register under the terms of LSC contracting.
The minister neither differentiated between established and new teachers nor gave a life expectancy of the commitment. We know, however, that all government expenditure is subject to the three-year comprehensive spending review.
The "licence to practise", or acquisition of Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills status, is a requirement for teachers entering the sector for the first time from September 2007. There is no obligation for those of us teaching before that point in time to gain QTLS status, but the opportunity is there if we choose to do so. The revocation, or removal, of licensed status should not be confused with the wider terms and conditions of membership - working within the code of professional practice, which comes into place after extensive consultation across the sector on April 1.
Protection is a key feature of any profession: the protection of the professional interests of those working within it and the protection of those who benefit from it - in our case, our learners. An employer will treat seriously any allegation of misconduct and this could, in the most severe cases, result in termination of employment. In the past, such a severance could have included voluntary termination of employment with a perfunctory reference, leaving the teacher at liberty to move from employer to employer. A self-regulating profession will, on the other hand, seek to protect the public interest; the professional body will be able to stop a teacher inflicting malpractice on ever growing numbers of learners.
Which leads us into the realm of continuing professional development (CPD), the process through which we maintain our understanding of our subject specialism and the skills and knowledge required to teach it effectively. In recent weeks, a thousand or so colleagues have helped us explore what counts as development and how we can work together to develop professional practice. The institute's online CPD portal, Reflect, will be tested by many thousands of members before its launch on April 1.
Our vision is that teachers will assume responsibility for their own development. We promote a highly personalised notion of professionalism, based on trust; one where teachers become analytical of their own performance and employment context, using this critical thinking to outline their individual development needs.
A commitment to lifelong learning and development will further enhance the professional status and reputation of teachers throughout the FE sector.
Acting chief executive, Institute for Learning,