Headlines: February 23rd, 2010

A new report into vocational teaching challenges the assumption that only degree holders make good teachers. The Skills Commission is today publishing the results of a wide-ranging inquiry and is arguing that experience and expertise have to be valued to attract top quality teaching talent for the increasing numbers of vocational learners.

The Commission has taken evidence from policy makers, regulatory bodies and educationalists and has found that vocational teachers in further education have been relegated to what it calls ‘a second division of teaching’. Often they are paid less than their academic counterparts in schools. To end the inequality today’s report calls for an overhaul of the system to combine training regimes and to achieve a universal teaching status across 14-19 education. The inquiry, which was sponsored by the independent education foundation, Edge, also calls on the departments for Business, Innovation and Skills and for Children, Schools and Families to consult on how they can support employer placements for teachers of vocational subjects so their subject knowledge is kept up-to-date.

Sir Mike Tomlinson, who chaired the Inquiry, said teachers of vocational courses in schools were not required to have the experience or expertise the Commission regarded as essential and those who had vast amounts of experience but were not qualified as teachers could be employed only as instructors on much lower salaries in schools.

“If we want the next generation of learners to have the quality of education they deserve and for parents and pupils to be confident that vocational education is right for them, the Commission believes that we have to ensure we value the experience of those wanting to enter vocational teaching,” Sir Mike said.