Education CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the Institute for Learning

1. Introduction

1.1 The Institute for Learning (IfL) is the professional body for teaching professionals in further education and skills.

1.2 As an organisation, IfL supports:

The commitment to professionalism in teaching and training.

The importance of continuing professional development (CPD) and supporting teaching practitioners in driving their own professional development.

Keeping a 21st century vision of teaching that effectively utilises new technology.

Promotion of IfL members as dual professionals, experts in their subject specialism or vocational areas as well as experts in teaching and learning.

The sector by conferring the full professional status of Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS).

1.3 IfL members include an increasing number of vocationally qualified teachers who are interested in taking up teaching positions in schools. We expect, and will encourage, this number to increase with freedoms enabling qualified teachers with QTLS to take up teaching positions in schools.

1.4 IfL is looking for a commitment from the Committee in attracting, training and retaining the very best teaching practitioners in further education and skills that ensure that young people choosing to pursue an academic and/or vocational route in to learning and employment can be confident that they will experience high quality teaching and learning by professional teachers.

1.5 In responding to this inquiry, we wanted the Committee to look specifically at teachers of young people aged 14 plus in learning environments often involving partnerships between schools and further education colleges and training providers.

2. Attracting the Best Teachers

2.1 IfL would seek to encourage much closer co-operation between the Department of Education and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills on a joined up strategy to ensure the sustainability of a world class teaching workforce in further education and skills. Furthermore, a joined up approach between Departments would ensure that growth in demand for vocational teaching and training for young people is met with adequate teaching capacity.

2.2 Teaching should be an attractive career of choice. To maximise high quality opportunities for all young people, parity of esteem between teachers in schools and in further education is a helpful development.

2.3 One suggestion is to embed an aspiration and motivation for trainees to view entering the teaching profession as part of their long term career plans. We believe that more can be done through curriculum, qualifications and through information, advice and guidance on offer to young people and adults to create this aspiration through partnerships with learned societies, professional bodies, sector skills councils, national skills academies and exam awarding bodies.

2.4 Vocational teaching and training, whether in a school or further education environment, should be a career of choice. In order to attract the best and most committed teachers to the profession, there must be readily available information, advice and guidance (IAG) for vocational professionals, employers and graduates. We know that IAG is hugely influential when making such choices; and a joined up approach between Departments can ensure that the Next Step careers service, and other IAG providers, have what they need to promote vocational teaching and training as a profession across further education and schools.

2.5 We believe that there are mechanisms available to the both the Department for Education and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills to work together to raise significantly the profile and status of teaching and training craft and vocational subjects.

3. Training the Best Teachers

3.1 The UK’s next generation of further education teachers and trainers are already in the workplace, gaining experience, developing their skills and progressing in their careers such as chefs, accountants, builders and engineers.

3.2 Initial teacher training for further education teachers has recently received positive judgements from OfSTED1 in terms of its quality and management. This is reflected too in IfL’s recent membership survey on initial teacher training, attracting over 5,000 responses.

3.3 IfL is of the firm belief that making the decision to give something back to the profession and go into teaching should be a path which is supported and encouraged throughout every profession. This is reflected in the fact that our data shows the average age of new entrants in to the profession is 38 years old, which is much higher than that of a newly qualified teacher in schools by, we understand, around 10 years.

3.4 By this age, individuals are likely to have a family, they are, according to research by of the current average age for a first time mortgage2, and they may already have other forms of commercial debts or existing student loans and therefore more resistant to additional debt.

3.5 Teachers who hold QTLS teach across the further education sector for both young people and adult learners must complete, or be on track to complete an initial teacher training qualification, such as the Diploma in Teaching Lifelong Learning and Skills (DTLLS) or the PGCE for post compulsory education. Neither courses are funded by the Teacher Development Agency (the equivalent for teaching in schools) and are instead funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England or the Skills Funding Agency with an increasing reliance on loans.

3.6 It is for this reason that we are deeply troubled with forecasts of tuition fees of at least £6,000 for initial teacher training qualifications3 in the further education and skills sector as a result of higher education funding changes following the Government’s response to Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education published by Lord Browne last year.

3.7 Whilst the focus has been on the “debt aversion” of mainly young people going in to full time higher education since the publication of the Browne Review, very little research has been done to examine the extent to which adult learners, let alone those wishing to enter a second profession, are likely to take up these student loans to undertake initial teacher training.

3.8 We believe that the new system for the funding of initial teacher training, largely by the individual, in further education and skills can be a deterrent for individuals, damages the flow of experts becoming teachers and ultimately damaging to the UK economy.

3.9 As a country we owe our international competitiveness, strength of our communities and influence of our innovation to the skills of our teachers and trainers and for this reason should be a profession we welcome the most talented individuals into with open arms. In the new system however, individual will instead be required to apply for a tuition fee loan of at least £6,000. This is not the welcome into the profession that is deserved and any good intention to make that laudable career move is likely to be met with deep reservations.

3.10 As the professional body for teachers and trainers in post 16 education, our data tells us that approximately 40% of teaching professionals in our sector are part time to varying degrees, ranging from consistent contracts to just a few hours a week and sometimes even less. Again, we do not believe that there are an attractive set of funding circumstances in order to be attracting the next generation of teachers and trainers.

3.11 As such a significant proportion of our members are part time, it is unlikely that these individuals will earn enough to begin repaying back their student loans through teaching alone.

3.12 It takes real effort, passion and commitment to your subject specialism to make the decision to become a teacher and it is this which the sector and the UK economy has silently relied upon for decades. Such a dramatic change in the accessibility of post compulsory teacher training carries no precedent and has significant risks to the sustainability and growth of our high quality teaching workforce and we strongly urge the Committee to put pressure on both the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to work together as a matter of urgency to remove this significant risk.

One example is a teacher in a further education college in the south west who, after leaving the armed services, now teaches aeronautical engineering and is undertaking initial teacher training. He may not have taken that step forward with significant loans and no access to a bursary. As a STEM expert, this teacher is exactly the kind of teacher that further education and schools alike can benefit from.

3.13 Our members are deeply disappointed that whilst teacher training in schools will, under the schools White Paper attract generous bursaries of up to £20,000 for priority subjects, there is no such equivalent for those wishing to teach or train in further education and skills. Many of our members come from the STEM professions and would attract such a bursary if they were to train to teach in schools, but not to teach in further education where their expertise and experience is just as valuable.

3.14 Furthermore, this could block the potential supply of vocational further education teachers who may, at a later stage in their career choose to teach in schools.

3.15 We hope that the Committee shares our view that it is neither fair nor proportionate to allow for a system weighted entirely at attracting teachers in to schools at the same time as totally withdrawing teacher training funding for vocational teachers and trainers.

3.16 The same can be applied to the Troops to Teachers Programme. There will be many leaving the Armed Forces with vast talents to bring to further education and skills in areas such as engineering, mechanics, leadership and management, catering, hospitality, healthcare and IT to name a few. We would argue therefore, that in the interest of choice for the individual, to make full use of their skills and talents and for parity within the profession, that the Troops to Teachers Programme is funded for those wishing to teach or train in further education and skills as well as schools.

3.17 We believe there should be true parity within the teaching profession to create a system where every young person can benefit from the best teaching and get the most out of their learning experience. This must include teacher training opportunities. We therefore strongly urge the Committee to insist that the Government revisits its policy on funding for post compulsory initial teacher training.

4.0 Retaining the Best Teachers

4.1 We view the Government’s agenda to create new freedoms for further education and skills providers as an opportunity to put the knowledge and expertise of teaching practitioners to much more effective use both in the classroom and in their specialist vocational subject areas.

4.2 The concept of dual professionalism, if extended from further education to schools, can offer significant opportunities to provide up to date subject knowledge and up to date teaching practice from further education. The dual professional carries out continuing professional development focussing on both their subject specialism and in teaching practice every year.

4.3 We believe that a co-ordinated effort between government agencies, national skills academies, sector skills councils, trade professional bodies and learned societies can add huge value to the development of professional and influential teachers and trainers in further education and skills. This in turn will maximise the ability for teaching practitioners to provide the best teaching and learning experience for the next generation workforce as well as ensuring the development of their own skills and knowledge.

5.0 Final Remarks

5.1 Many young people from the age of 14 benefit hugely from being taught by vocationally trained experts who are in the unique position to deliver high quality teaching and training off the back of their experience and development in the field. This is a unique and precious attribute which should be at the heart of our education system.

5.2 As we develop an education system which prepares young people for the economy of the future, we can no longer see “school teachers” in a silo. More and more young people are, and will continue, to benefit from vocational and practical teaching and learning who all deserve the best teachers and trainers. Parity and fluidity between academic and vocational routes into teaching benefit pupils, education providers and society more broadly.

5.3 We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the Committee’s inquiry and look forward to being able to offer further support.

November 2011




Prepared 2nd May 2012