A Thought for Further Education in Scotland

As a member of the Pedagoo community and as a user of twitter as a PLN, I read many informed and passionate writings on pedagogy and the social structures that it is practiced within. I refer, of course, mainly to the compulsory education system, a system that employs the vast majority of teachers in Scotland. I have followed with keen interest both the Donaldson Review of Teacher Education, and latterly the McCormac Review of Teacher Employment. As a serving member of the GTCS, I regularly engage with fellow Council members on the issues that have arisen from both these reviews, albeit the ones that do not fall within the remit of COSLA, EIS, SNCT, et al. (As a member of the EIS, I am not immune to, nor do I disapprove of a teaching trade union movement in Scotland). I, as you may already know, or have gathered thus far, work within the further (non-compulsory) education system. This system is anomalous from the compulsory sectors in many ways, for example:

  • It is not a mandatory graduate profession
  • It is not a mandatory registered profession
  • It is has been driven by a deeply flawed funding model (the student unit of
    measurement)

It is, however, charged with almost all of the functions of the compulsory teaching profession

I have campaigned for long and weary that we in FE should be granted the same professional status as all other teaching practitioners and this recent article by Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD’s Secretary General underpins this philosophy click to access

Henry McLeish once famously described FE as the ‘Cinderella’ of Scottish education, although I will not comment on his work for Halogen Communications, a ‘public relations’ company working for a number of Scottish colleges!

Further education has had its own share of reviews in the past two years, namely:

  • The Review of Post-16 Education and Vocational Training in Scotland; click to access
  • Putting Learners at the Centre: Delivering our Ambitions for Post-16 Education; click to access
  • Report of the Review of Further Education Governance in Scotland click to access

These three reports have now brought about the most profound shake up of further education in its history and we now embark on a programme of regionalisation that will have far reaching consequences for the learners and employees of these new entities once established. It should be noted that many of the suggestions made in these reports could have been addressed by the incumbents of the system rather than the profession having to be subjected to such a huge seismic shift. The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) lists the priorities for the regional outcomes as follows:

Outcome 1      Efficient regional structures:

To deliver efficient regional structures to meet the needs of the region

Outcome 2     Right learning in the right place:

To contribute to meeting the national guarantee for young people, meeting the demands of the region, and where appropriate the nation

Outcome 3 High quality & efficient learning:

To ensure that learners are qualified to progress through the system in both an efficient and flexible manner

Outcome 4 A developed workforce:

To ensure learners are qualified and prepared for work and to improve and adapt the skills of the regional workforce

Outcome 5     Sustainable institutions:

To secure, well-managed and financially and environmentally sustainable colleges

Colleges have been supplied with a template from the SFC that provides more detail and can be viewed here:

www.scotlandscolleges.ac.uk/component/option,com_docman/Itemid,78/gid,4624/task,doc_download/

If you read this document you will no doubt share my concerns! Unlike the reviews of compulsory education, the solutions to the troubled landscape of FE do not appear to be found by addressing and questioning what we do in the classroom, but rather by employing a fiscal overhaul and keeping fingers crossed! To quote from the aforementioned document:

“The outcome agreement for a region will reflect the returnfor the investment the SFC expects to see”.

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