Qualification for life-long learning teachers

The challenge

Reports by the Department for Education and Skills and schools watchdog Ofsted have expressed concern about the quality of training for teachers of post-16s.

After years of trying to find training providers to support their workforces, many larger businesses have invested in their own in-house training centres. But managers still have problems ensuring that members of their learning and development teams are adequately qualified for the job.

The solution

The sector skills council Lifelong Learning UK is trialling an initial teaching award with employers, which will provide people with an introduction to the skills they need to teach in the classroom or the workplace.

The award is the first step in a series of teacher qualifications available, underpinned by new professional standards for teachers, tutors and trainers across the lifelong learning sector.

The qualifications will lead to a new status for teachers: qualified teacher in the learning and skills sector (QTLS). This will reassure employers that teachers and trainers will have the skills to teach their specialist areas.

Employer benefits

The initial teaching award is a short course designed by those who understand the sector. It can be contextualised to suit any business. This means that businesses with learning and development teams can offer staff professional development that is transferable, nationally recognised and provides a threshold status to teach.

The initial award also offers the opportunity for teachers to start and then progress appropriately in their careers.

This new award has been welcomed by the University and College Union, and was developed in collaboration with awarding institutions and stakeholders. Every step of its development has involved extensive consultation with employers in the sector and it will be recognised nationally.

Employer involvement

Barry Page established Key Skills Specialists six years ago. Based in Darwen, Lancashire, his staff trains training providers. The company ensures that learners are proficient to teach in a work-based environment. They are taken through courses in literacy and numeracy, learning and development, advice and guidance, and leave with assessor and verifier qualifications.

“[Existing] qualifications are classroom-orientated,” says Page. “They don’t prepare teachers and trainers in the workplace. They may have 40 plumbers in front of them one week and the next week only three, but a different group than before.”

Page believes the new qualification will be more adaptable and place all teachers, trainers and mentors on a level playing field. Schools and universities will be more confident when recruiting teachers for vocational subjects, or when sending post-14 students into further education as part of an extended curriculum. “It improves access to training in a way that meets the needs of industry,” he says.

Staff for Success is a private training provider based in Yorkshire, employing trainers with expertise from schools, further education and work-based learning. Since 2001, it has been responsible for providing access to teaching and training programmes for staff employed in work-based learning organisations. The company is now an active participant in the pilot project for the delivery of the Level 3 award in ‘Preparing to teach in the lifelong learning sector’ (see box above left).

Alan Walker, director of training at Staff for Success, believes flexible delivery has attracted plenty of interest in the award. “We currently have 48 individuals from work-based learning organisations participating in the programme, with evening twilight sessions (between 4pm and 7pm) proving to be one of the most popular slots. We have a relatively large number of staff hoping to become involved in the project during January 2007,” he says.

Many of the participants plan to pursue further qualifications. “Early indicators are that it has been very well received and presents no barriers to work-based learning practitioners,” says Walker.

“There has been a great deal of interest in the credit system that is under development. A large number of participants are already asking to progress to the Level 3 or 4 qualifications, relevant to their working roles, as and when they emerge.”

Qualifications for teaching

From September 2007, all new entrants to teaching in lifelong learning will be required to gain the award to teach. Those who wish to make teaching their major role will have to progress through the rankings listed below:

  • Level 3/4 award in preparing to teachin the lifelong learning sector – minimum six credits.
  • Level 3/4 certificate in teaching in the lifelong learning sector – minimum 24 credits.
  • Level 5/6/7 diploma in teaching in the lifelong learning sector – minimum 120 credits.
  • Qualifications at Level 5 and above will confer qualified teacher in the learning and skills sector status.

Key facts

1 Many of the teachers, tutors or trainers providing learning opportunities to six million people in the learning and skills sector have not completed any initial teacher training.

2 More than 700 trainees participating in the first round of trials of the initial award will gain a threshold status to teach.

3 From September 2007, up to 10,000 people enrolling on teacher training programmes could gain a threshold status to teach as the first part of their journey towards full qualification.

4 National partners include Department for Education and Skills, Quality Improvement Agency, Learning and Skills Council, Institute for Learning, Association of Colleges, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Training and Development Agency, Ofsted, Adult Learning Inspectorate, and the Centre for Excellence in Leadership.

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