Tomlinson calls for end to pay inequity

15th October 2004 at 01:00
Landmark 14-19 report backs parity with schools. Warwick Mansell and Steve Hook report

The Government will be told to close the pay gap between college lecturers and school teachers when its landmark 14-19 reform inquiry reports on Monday.

The proposals of the group led by Mike Tomlinson will be seized upon by union leaders who insist long-standing salary differentials must be addressed if his 18-month inquiry to reshape education for English teenagers is to bear fruit.

The pay advice comes in a draft of Tomlinson's final report. The draft also calls for more consistency between the conditions of teachers and lecturers who currently teach different qualifications and work under different funding arrangements.

The inquiry is wary about ministers' reactions to its pay proposals and is understood to touch on pay parity only briefly.

But, crucially, the issue is included in a list of requirements the group says need to be addressed if its main recommendation - the introduction of a four-level diploma to replace GCSEs and A-levels - is to work.

Changes to pay are thought necessary because, under Tomlinson, schools and colleges will increasingly share pupils over 14.

Natfhe, the lecturers' union, has long argued that this makes the pay gap indefensible. Paul Mackney, its general secretary, said: "Some of the young people coming to colleges are not necessarily going to be the most motivated.

"It seems a bit unfair that FE lecturers, for helping them, should in return receive less money."

Ministers are likely to embrace the concept of radical 14-19 reform but have not yet committed themselves on the details.

Many lecturers remain nervous about the increased reliance on colleges to teach vocational skills to pupils from the age of 14.

The Further Education National Training Organisation gets regular calls from lecturers teaching under-18s who need support.

It is leading a consortium which is testing a training module for lecturers who teach school pupils.

Ivor Jones, Fento's director of operations, said: "They need to feel properly supported. In some colleges these programmes are proving a major success and helping youngsters discover a new enthusiasm for learning, but in other cases they can pose a real challenge for the staff involved."

The Association of Colleges has also cited the pay gap as a potential obstacle to reform.

But it is optimistic that FE's bigger role in educating teenagers will mean its political clout will increase as more parents become aware of the work of colleges.

Judith Norrington, director of learning and quality at the AoC, said:

"Staff teaching in both colleges and schools should have equal recognition.

"In particular, staff who bring their technical skills to vocational education should be appropriately rewarded.

"We hope that any new system will be sufficiently resourced to encourage vocational learning."

Chris Humphries, chief executive of City Guilds, the largest vocational awarding body, said: "We need to look at the capabilities and therefore the reward packages of the teachers involved. "If we don't get that right at an early stage then a lot of of what is good about Tomlinson will have been lost."

He said work needs to be completed on the adult qualification framework before vocational qualifications for teenagers are allowed to take shape under Tomlinson.

He said: "I think there has been a tendency for the schools agenda to shape vocational qualifications but this time we need to look at the adult framework first and then see how we can fit the Tomlinson qualifications around that."

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