FE Minister rejects call to scrap rules requiring FE providers to ensure teachers are properly trained

Janet Downs's picture
Academies may be allowed to employ untrained staff but Further Education Minister, John Hayes, has rejected the proposal contained in Lord Lingfield’s report, “Professionalism in Further Education", to scrap regulations requiring all further education (FE) colleges and training providers to ensure their teachers were properly qualified.

There was widespread opposition in the FE sector to Lord Lingfield’s recommendations. 87% of the 5,300 respondents to a survey of members of the Institute for Learning (IfL) agreed or strongly agreed that teaching qualifications in further education should be mandatory and 80% thought that removing the national requirement for teaching qualifications would deprofessionalise the sector. The Association of Colleges was concerned that the reputation of the FE sector would be damaged if parents and students couldn’t be sure that teachers were qualified, and head of FE at the University and College Union (UCU), Barry Lovejoy, told TES that “Most of the submissions to Lingfield said that teaching qualifications should be required.”

Mr Hayes has listened to these voice and has decided that the “existing requirements for minimum qualifications will be retained for the time being”. Mr Hayes favours “an alternative approach based on consensus and a shared aspiration to promote the highest standards” and proposes the setting-up of a “FE Guild” which would raise the status of the FE sector and would be responsible for professional standards.

There has been similar widespread condemnation of Michael Gove’s decision to allow academies to employ untrained teachers from organisations such as the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers, Independent Academies Association (IAA), teachers unions NAHT, NUT, ASCL, ATL and academy chain ARK who have all criticized the idea. The TES editorial described the plan as “bonkers” and there is an e-petition requiring the Government to make it compulsory for all teachers to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

One Minister, John Hayes, has shown that he is willing to listen. Let’s hope he can persuade the Secretary of State for Education to do the same.

John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, is a passionate advocate of careers education and guidance. He was successful in ensuring that the Education Act 2011 contained a clause requiring schools “to secure access to independent careers guidance for their pupils in school years 9-11.” Unfortunately, this requirement will not be monitored by Ofsted so schools could go for the cheapest option - access to a website. Mr Hayes is also an enthusiastic supporter of the Lincolnshire sausage and is lobbying Defra about its refusal to allow the sausage to have Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. He is founder of The Butcher’s Pride sausage competition held in Spalding.

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