‘Top-up’ qualification could bring lecturers into schools

15th April 2016 at 00:00
Giving FE staff a route to join the teaching register would increase ‘flexibility’ in the system, GTCS says

College lecturers in Scotland may soon be able to gain a new qualification allowing them to teach in schools, TESS can reveal.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) is considering a “top-up” to the TQFE – the teaching qualification required for FE registration – that would enable staff to join the teaching register for schools.

This would allow lecturers to move between sectors and would help colleges and schools work together to deliver the government’s Developing the Young Workforce agenda.

Vikki Robertson, GTCS senior education adviser responsible for FE, stressed that the plans were at a very early stage. “We are starting to establish this route that would be a top-up to TQFE,” she said adding that this would allow more flexibility in the system and lecturers to register to teach in schools.

Professional mark of quality

Ms Robertson explained that the scheme could work along the route of provisional conditional registration, which gave teachers a set time to meet the requirements for full registration. “If this is developed for lecturers it would allow time for further study to meet the teacher education criteria,” she added.

Lecturers are already encouraged by the GTCS to pursue FE registration (see box, below). Ms Robertson said: “We feel this offers a professional mark of quality for lecturers, and GTCS also offers a wealth of professional learning materials.”

To register, applicants need at least 190 days of teaching experience in an FE college, as well as a teaching qualification. However, they do not need a degree. As this is a requirement to teach in schools, the envisaged top-up qualification could be one way to bridge that gap, Ms Robertson said.

She added: “You would need a top-up for it to be equivalent to PGDE. Universities would need to develop a programme of study and it would need to be accredited by GTCS and approved by the council. Part of that would need to involve teaching in school.”

Once that process was complete, the requirements for provisional conditional registration for lecturers could be considered, she said.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, which represents teachers and lecturers in Scotland, said that the plans chimed with the Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce agenda, although funding would need to be made available for CPD.

He added: “It is appropriate that the GTCS is looking at how lecturers and schools can work in partnership to the benefit of learners while continuing to uphold the high standards that are expected of all teaching professionals.”

Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said that she would welcome “anything” that contributed towards a “seamless transition between schools and colleges”.

Edinburgh College principal Annette Bruton said that she already employed lecturers who were qualified schoolteachers. “Having the experience of both sectors means they’re really well equipped to help students make the transition and succeed at college.”

In 2014, the GTCS launched a pilot project to get more lecturers to engage with Professional Update, the scheme set up to support teachers’ CPD. Phase two of the project is currently underway, which involves around 50 lecturers at a number of colleges.

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