Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Wolf Report was published today

This report of an enquiry into 14-19 vocational education and qualifications, led by Alison Wolf, was published today. 4 of its 27 recommendations were immediately accepted by Michael Gove, and this was confirmed in a press release. One of these is that teachers with QTLS (Qualified Teacher in Learning and Skills status - ie in the post-compulsory sector) are now qualified to teach in schools, where hitherto only QTS (Qualified Teacher Status - ie in schools only) would do. QTS teachers have always been qualified to teach in colleges, but until today it didn't work the other way round. It's interesting that Gove announced this immediately, and I guess it won't be popular in some quarters, but there's no logic to the present arrangements (sorry, the old arrangements). My colleagues teaching in FE and teacher training in HE are somewhat dazed - it had been hoped for but not really expected.

Perhaps now teachers in the post-compulsory will be happier about joining the Institute for Learning, which is essential for them to get QTLS, and paying the fee of £63 for full-timers. UCU is arguing against this, saying that forcing teachers to join and then charging them, is unfair; but my view is that other professionals take it for granted that to be seen as professionals they must belong to a professional body that is wholly controlled and financed by the professionals themselves, and certainly not by the government. The £63 fee recently announced by IfL seems a shock because for the last two years it has been free, because it was subsidised by the government. But this couldn't have gone on, recession or not - the whole point of the IfL is that it is a teachers' professional organisation or it is nothing.

Anyway, today has been interesting, and the Wolf Report, which also recommends that funding in the post-compulsory sector should be on a student basis, as in schools, rather than by enrolments on qualifications, a system which has operated since the early 90s and is the envy of nerds all over the world because it is so complicated (does anyone remember the Dan Quayle guide to the FEFC Funding Methodology, published I think by Lewisham College in about 1995 - an invaluable document at the time, now sadly well out of date, but it would nowadays need to be 6 times as long) should start a lot of hares running.

One of Wolf's main arguments is against the plethora of low-level vocational qualifications which have sprung up and which have become very popular not because they are useful for students in the labour market (few are), but because they attract funding. This is certainly true of the raft of Skills for Life qualifications which I am familiar with: having a level 1 literacy certificate merely demonstrates to a prospective employer that you don't have a GCSE in English. Alison Wolf also states bluntly that Key Skills qualifications at level 2 are not equivalent to a GCSE in English - this has been the Emperor's new clothes for nearly a decade. More on this when I get more familiar with the report.

Full Report:

Press release:

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