Specialist skills will enhance careers

20th April 2001 at 01:00
Most colleges are geared up to cope with new regulations forcing lecturers to ualify as teachers.

UNTIL three years ago, lecturers working at Salisbury College did not have to be qualified teachers. Although most staff held recognised teaching qualifications, lecturers who possessed only vocational qualifications linked to their profession did not have to undertake further training.

In 1998, the college acknowledged that a change in the law was imminent and introduced a new rule requiring all permanent staff to gain a City and Guilds teaching qualification within two years.

This placed it in a similar position to the majority of FE colleges. A recent survey by the Further Education National Training Organisation revealed that 80 per cent of colleges require lecturers to hold some sort of teaching qualification. The remaining 20 per cent only "encourage" their staff to qualify as teachers.

Each year, Salisbury normally appoints three or four lecturers who do not hold teaching qualifications. Don Smith, assistant principal and staff development officer, stresses that it is vital for the college to attract people with specialist vocational skills who are not necessarily trained teachers when they apply for posts.

From September, new full-time lecturers throughout England will have two years from their date of appointment to gain a Certificate of Education or equivalent "stage three" qualifications under a new framework.

New part-timers on permanent contracts will be given up to four years (depending on the hours they teach) to gain the same qualifications as full-time lecturers. Most hourly paid part-timers, meanwhile, will have two years to gain intermediate or stage two qualifications - equivalent to but not the same as the City and Guilds "730" teaching qualififcation.

Most evidence suggests that there is no reason why this should pose a major financial burden on colleges such as Salisbury, which has its own teacher training department, or on individual lecturers.

Anyone taking a two-year Certificate of Education normally has their fees paid by their local authority, while Salisbury already pays for staff to gain stage one and two qualifications. Next year, the Government has promised pound;80 million from the standards fund to pay for the training of new and xisting lecturers.

According to Mr Smith, the important thing is to attract staff who are keen to train. "We want not only to provide good quality lecturers for the students, but also to enhance career development of colleagues," he says. "There is no doubt that it makes a difference where teachers have been trained and acquire new skills."

Salisbury employs about 150 full-time lecturers and a further seven part-timers on permanent, fractional contracts. Twelve full-time lecturers who currently hold stage two qualifications will be supported by the college in training up to a Certificate of Education.

Ian Southwell, an IT lecturer who assists with staff training as well as teaching students, began working at Salisbury just over a year ago. He already held a stage one teaching qualification through his previous job as training manager with a local dairy firm and gained a stage two City and Guilds 730 within six months of his appointment.

Mr Southwell, who has a permanent part-time contract, is working towards a Certificate of Education. "It has brought me up quite a few levels and made a huge impact on the way I approach students," he says.

Sally Edwards, who lectures in leisure and recreation, is also trying to gain a Certificate of Education having achieved a City and Guilds 730 six years ago. As with Mr Southwell, her fees are paid by the college.

Gaining the new qualification will, she believes, help to enhance her professional status within the college. "It makes you more employable and makes you feel more confident in what you are doing," she says.

Stage three qualifications gained at Salisbury College are accredited by Greenwich University. Among those studying in the college's teacher training department this year are four part-time lecturers from the agency Education Lecturing Services.

The college uses about 100 ELS lecturers per year. Many work at Salisbury on a regular basis, but only about 40 per cent are qualified teachers. ELS lecturers who work and train at Salisbury receive 50 per cent course discounts where their fees are not already covered.

"We have to treat agency staff differently from our own staff, but we want to motivate them as well," says Don Smith. "Quality is as big an issue for ELS as it is for everybody else."

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