Changes to FE and skills sector regulations
During 2012, there were many changes for both IfL and the further education (FE) and skills sector. The year saw IfL return to its roots as an independent and practitioner-led professional membership body, with voluntary membership for teachers, trainers and assessors.
IfL’s purpose is to support individuals in their practice and to raise the status of the teaching profession. We believe that too often teachers and trainers in the sector are not supported well enough and that more needs to be done to create conditions that enable great teaching and learning to flourish.
IfL is independent and governed by teachers and trainers who are elected by the membership. IfL's governance is also supported by selected stakeholders, including trade unions and employer bodies.
“IfL’s elected board is dedicated to supporting and doing the very best for all teachers and trainers, with them developing IfL as the modern, forward-thinking professional body focused on serving them and meeting their needs.”
Sue Crowley, IfL's elected chair
Education and Training Foundation
The creation of an FE guild, now the Education and Training Foundation was also announced in 2012. Key functions and funds, currently with the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), will transfer to the foundation between April and August 2013.
The Education and Training Foundation is a separate employer-led organisation. IfL is a key partner but will not be replaced by the new foundation.
Changes to the 2007 regulations
Changes to the 2007 regulations came into effect on 1 October 2012. This applied only to teachers and trainers whose employer was covered by the regulations.
- IfL returned to its roots as a professional membership body with voluntary membership
- The goverment's regulations requiring registration with IfL for teachers and trainers in FE colleges ended
- The requirement for declaring 30 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) each year was also removed. Government and the FE and skills sector recognise the importance of CPD to the profession however, and have an expectation that CPD should continue.
- The statutory requirement to obtain Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) and Associate Teacher Learning and Skills (ATLS) was removed. However, IfL continues to offer QTLS status. Since 1 April 2012, after IfL's successful campaign, QTLS is recognised in law as the equivalent to QTS for teaching in maintained schools.
- Based on over 5,000 members' views, IfL made a very strong case for initial teacher training to remain as a national government policy. The requirement by government for teacher training remains in place.
Raising and maintaing the status of teachers and trainers
IfL has a distinctive role to play in the future of FE and skills and influencing policy, based on members' views.
IfL worked hard to ensure equivalence of Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) was achieved, which came into law in April 2012.
The government has recognised that those who have achieved or are working towards Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status should not be disadvantaged by the regulatory changes. The existing equivalence with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) - which IfL worked so hard to bring about - should also not be put into jeopardy.
IfL is committed to raising the profile of high-quality vocational teaching and learning and will continue with members to work towards this aim.
Background to the independent review of professionalism in the further education and skills sector
In September 2011 the then minster for further education and skills, John Hayes, announced that a review panel would be formed to look at “the current arrangements to regulate and facilitate the professionalism of the FE and Skills workforce”.
The panel was convened in November 2011, led by David Sherlock, former chief executive of the Adult Learning Inspectorate; with Dawn Ward, principal and chief executive of Burton and South Derbyshire College; and Dan Wright, chief executive of First4Skills.
In February 2012 the minister announced that Lord Lingfield would chair the independent review of professionalism in the further education and skills sector, and work commenced in earnest.
An interim report was released on Tuesday 27 March 2012, as part of the independent review.
Government also published contrasting independent research on 26 March 2012, Evaluation of FE Teachers' Qualifications (England) Regulations 2007. This detailed report on research carried out for the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) presented evidence of considerable gains under regulations.
Members' views - and the importance they attach to the issue of initial teacher training - were reflected in IfL’s one-page feature, which appeared in the Education Guardian on Tuesday 22 May 2012 under the heading, Should teaching qualifications be left to chance?
IfL also held an online broadcast on Tuesday 22 May 2012 to enable IfL members to discuss the issues raised in the Lord Lingfield's interim review. The broadcast ran for one hour and can be viewed free via the Policy Review TV website.
More than 5,000 members responded to IfL's survey about the future of our profession in June 2012. This feedback informed IfL's response to the BIS consultation on recommendations to remove the 2007 regulations. Read IfL's response to the BIS consultation
John Hayes MP announced the development a guild for further education at the end of July 2012 and the government's response to the consultation was published on 9 August 2012.
The final report of the independent review panel, "Professionalism in Further Education", was published on Tuesday 23 October 2012. Read IfL's full response. It is positive that the report referenced a recognisable professional identity across further education and skills.
 BIS Research paper 66, Evaluation of FE Teachers' Qualifications (England) Regulations 2007, p.58