Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Decades on, Adult Learning Is Called in for a Service: Fe News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Decades on, Adult Learning Is Called in for a Service: Fe News

Article excerpt

Commission will examine vocational teaching standards.

The first commission on FE teaching standards for decades was launched this week, after appointing commissioners from 167 applications. It begins work as colleges face criticism from Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw about teaching quality, with two-thirds of recent inspections seeing grades worsen.

Frank McLoughlin, the City and Islington College principal who is chairing the commission on adult education, said there had been too little study of how to teach vocational subjects. "I have been in the sector for more than 30 years, and this is the first time in my career that we have had a focus on teaching and learning in the FE sector," he said. "It's much researched, much spoken about in the schools sector, but it's a very different story for us. It's undervalued in terms of research."

Mr McLoughlin said he would take evidence from Ofsted to back up the claims of chief inspector Sir Michael, who told MPs: "I am very concerned about the quality of provision in the learning and skills sector."

Sir Michael added that colleges were "using the complexity of FE as a cover for not doing what they should be doing, which is monitoring the quality of teaching".

Since he became chief inspector, 10 out of 15 general FE colleges have had worsening grades at inspection, six of them dropping at least two grades. The greatest decline was that of Macclesfield College, which dropped straight from outstanding to inadequate. Sir Michael attributed the problems partly to the length of time FE teachers can go unqualified, a situation that could be exacerbated by Lord Lingfield's recommendation in his interim report on FE professionalism to make qualifications optional for employers.

Mr McLoughlin declined to comment on whether he endorsed Ofsted's conclusions, saying he did not want to prejudge the commission. …

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