Wolf review to cover FE lecturers' role in schools

28th January 2011 at 00:00
Report's remit will include flexibility of movement between sectors

Professor Alison Wolf's report on vocational education will stretch beyond its remit and advise on whether FE lecturers should be able to teach in schools on a full teacher's salary, ministers have revealed.

At a debate in Westminster Hall last week, children's minister Tim Loughton told MPs the report due in the spring will recommend whether FE lecturers with QTLS (qualified teacher learning and skills) status would have to take separate schools qualifications.

But he said there were likely to be obstacles to creating a single teaching qualification, including the Government's desire to strengthen the requirements for teachers to have degrees.

Mr Loughton said: "Simply allowing anyone with QTLS to teach in schools would mean that we were not able to guarantee the rigorous academic expertise of teachers to pupils and parents."

However, he said that institutions must be shaped around the needs of children, and this included providing effective vocational teaching in schools.

"It is vital that schools have the flexibility to employ the staff they need to offer excellent vocational education to their particular set of students," he said. "It is also vital that the contribution that teachers with a further education background can make to schools is fully recognised by schools.

"There are ways that the Government can address the need for reform in this area without undermining our plans to build a graduate teaching workforce to create an outstanding, high-status profession."

As well as the proposal for creating an assessment-only route to convert QTLS into the school system's QTS (qualified teacher status), Mr Loughton said he expected other proposals to come out of Professor Wolf's report, including supporting FE lecturers without degrees who want to teach the vocational subjects they are already expert in.

The debate was called by Conservative MP Graham Stuart, chair of the Commons children, schools and families select committee. He said academic and vocational subjects both demanded similarly rigorous teaching, which FE lecturers provided.

"It is simply unreasonable, not to mention unfair, that FE teachers cannot go into the school environment," he said. "It is crucial that highly skilled and experienced professionals can use that skill wherever it is most needed. The current system of teacher qualification is over- complicated and should be simplified to allow high-quality professionals to teach in both sectors."

The children, schools and families select committee has already backed the right of QTLS lecturers to be paid as qualified teachers in schools.

Former committee chair Barry Sheerman, a Labour MP, said: "If we are to have a system with increasingly diverse post-14 routes - apprenticeships, people staying on in FE, people doing diplomas and more conventional vocational routes and being able to switch across from those - we need a profession that can teach across the piece post-14."

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