Love at first sight? Helping shape The Education Training Foundation by Carolyn O'Connor @clyn40

On Friday the 23rd of January 2015 I attended the first Practitioner group consultancy forum for The Education Training Foundation. This has been formed in response to ensure their consultation process is reflecting the views of all who work within the Further Education/ Lifelong Learning sector. I along with others in the group are to help be their “critical friend” in shaping this new professional body.

Who was there?

I met up with some twenty-five or so people whose roles varied within the sector. Between us we have a range of experience from newly qualified to recently retired. The Practitioner group is a mixture of Further Education College teachers, Adult Community Learning teachers, Assessors and many more.

What did we do?

An agenda was given out prior to the meeting that was based around discussing what the Practitioner groups role would be in this consultancy process. Therefore I sort of expected I would be subjected to some ice-breaker activities and then given instruction on what we as a group were to discuss in the forum. I am happy to report that it was not the case, we got stuck in straight away and it was clear we would be defining our role within this consultancy process.

They provided us with the data from the results of the on-line consultancy survey done before Christmas. In total nearly 3000 people working within the FE sector responded. However according to the data in ETF’s One Year On report there are approximately 110,370 teachers working within FE Colleges alone. I find myself wondering why are not more voicing their opinions on a professional body? Is it because they do not want or feel they need one?

We looked at the key questions from the survey and considered the data against it. Some of the parts we discussed were respondents thoughts on what support was wanted from the ETF. These ranged from forms of effective CPD and recording it, gaining QTLS, the cost of membership and what pastoral support will be given from the ETF.

It was also interesting to note the difference in percentage of chosen job titles under Lecturer, Tutor and Teacher. It was clear that many felt they fitted under different headings, yet we all teach. Why are we still unsure of our title in FE?

What’s next?

Through the survey responses and our own views we ascertained that we needed to look more deeply into what we really wanted the ETF to be about and what it would offer us. Some of the focus points are:

  • How could the ETF provide support and resources that are subject specific?
  • How will the QTLS process be done? It is apparent that how it was achieved through the Institute for Learning was not wanted again.
  • Further Education needs stability therefore we don’t want to buy into the ETF and then have the rug pulled from under our feet again like it did with the IFL. How will they ensure this does not happen again?
  • How should CPD be delivered and recorded under the ETF?
  • What should the cost of membership be and should it be compulsory?

In addition to this during a brief twitter conversation later in the day the subject of The College of Teachers came up. I had not considered it myself as I just assumed further education would not be part of it anyway. A few FE teachers on twitter questioned why? I suppose it does seem odd considering it has the word ‘College’ in its title. It was suggested during this brief discussion that maybe the CoT could work alongside with ETF. It certainly would be interesting to explore the matter more.

The next Practitioner consultancy meeting will be held in March. I look forward to seeing what happens next and sharing it back with you.