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New professional body for further education must involve staff at every step

23 October 2012

FE Guild with no compulsory membership or fees approved as final Lingfield report on professionalism in further education launched

UCU called for a new professional body for further education lecturers, the FE Guild, to ensure staff play a meaningful role within it.
 
Among key recommendations, the report called for the widening pay gap between college lecturers and other educators to be addressed, and for colleges to reduce their reliance on part-time, temporary staff.
 
Key to Lord Lingfield's report (.pdf) is a proposed FE covenant which would be a mechanism to ensure colleges support professionalism. The covenant would see staff agreeing to initial and ongoing training, lesson observation and performance management, in return for their employers supporting that training, and negotiating fair performance management on issues such as lesson observation.
 
Crucially, membership of the new body will not be compulsory, nor will there be a fee - two issues that prompted the boycott of the IfL.
 
UCU agreed with the report's call for further education to have a more clearly defined purpose but warned the recommendation for colleges to drop remedial education was unworkable in practice, partly as government proposals to create replacements for GCSE and A-levels may increase demand for such teaching.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We will support the new Guild as long as college staff are given a meaningful role within it. The FE covenant is an interesting idea that could be good news for professionalism if it fulfils its promise of matching employee and employer obligations.
 
'We're pleased to see recognition that salaries in further education have not kept pace with schoolteachers' and that this, combined with a heavy reliance on part-time staff on temporary contracts, has threatened the professionalism of staff and the stability of colleges.

'Further education does need to be more clearly defined but lopping off remedial education won't work in practice as there will always be older students looking for a second chance to gain or improve qualifications.'

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