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Teachers have always been valued and been seen as professional bodies. They have held qualifications and positions of respect within society. The word 'professional' has been associated particularly with lawyers, doctors, and qualified teachers. It was assumed once qualified and trusted to do their job there was no need for any further training. This is now not the case. All professionals, whether established or new are expected to be accountable for their practice and to ensure it is kept up to date through reflection and continual professional development.
'the DfES published a document called equipping our teachers for the future: reforming initial teacher training for the learning and skills sector. This document set out a timetable for changes to teacher training in the post-16 sector which culminated in a new range of qualifications, backed up by a new set of occupational standards which replaced the existing Fento standards in 2007' (Tummons, 2007)
Teachers saw themselves separate from FE/HE practitioners, mainly because one needed a qualification in order to practice. To practice within HE/FE (Higher/further education) a degree is not required. In my opinion, this in itself did not make one more professional than the other. Having a qualification does not mean that one has more pride in their role than the other or more responsibility. Being professional is not just about the amount of qualifications you hold it encompasses many things. It is a reflection of how you represent yourself to others and how you respect those around you and yourself. It is about how you portray yourself to your learners and how you communicate with colleagues and learners alike. Professionalism is about empathising and sympathising with learners and it means leaving personal issues behind preventing these from influencing upon your teaching. In my opinion being professional is about putting forward my best practice with a personal touch included without being personal with my learners.
Recently government changed the requirements of FE/HE teaching and practice regulations within this sector. Teachers who have gained full QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) are required to become members of GTC (General Teaching Council) but there was no such body available for practitioners of HE/FE. Practitioners within HE/FE wanted their own professional body and wanted recognition for that profession. Originally, Fento published the standards for teaching and supporting learning in further education, providing a national framework that would be recognised. In January 2005 LLUK became responsible for the professional development of employees in the lifelong learning sector and in 2001 IFL was formed (Institute for Learning) this became the professional body for HE/FE practitioners.
'The Institute for Learning (IfL) is the professional body for teachers, trainers, tutors and trainee in the Learning and Skills Sector it will be compulsory for all teachers to register with IfL and follow a Code of Professional Practice' (Gravells and Simpson, 2008)
I teach within FE (Further Education) delivering HE (Higher Education) courses to adults. In order to do this I needed to register as a member of IFL (Institute for Learning) as an Associate member and I need to make sure that I continually develop my own professionalism (CPD) I do this through attending various meetings to ensure that I am up to date with current procedures and practices but also through completing courses. I have recently completed 'Safeguarding' NCFE level 2 which is relevant to my own specialised area and I am coming to the end of my PCET course, whilst beginning a ILM Team leading Level 2 course. I monitor all my continual professional development through my workplace appraisal and IfL Reflect online program (Institute for Learning, 2010).
Practitioners within the Lifelong Learning sector will need to maintain registration in order to obtain QTLS (Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills status) which in effect is a 'licence to practise' for teachers in the Learning and Skills Sector. (Robson, 2006)
'In 2001 FENTO approved the requirement to hold a recognised teaching qualification' (Institute for Learning, 2010)
Part of my responsibility is to understand the funding systems in place, and how these can affect and influence my practice. Being the course leader, I have to make professional decisions based on data. A large amount of the funding is sourced through Learning Skills Council (LSC), which recently changed to Skills Funding Agency (SFA) in turn this impacted on the amount and timing of funding received and Train to Gain (T2G) both these sources influence the cost of courses I deliver and the number of learners I can enrol. Usual protocol is a roll on roll off method and until recently, this is how I managed the course.
'The Skills Funding Agency took over responsibility for funding and regulating adult further education and skills from the Learning and Skills Council in April 2010.' (Department for Buisness Innovation & Skills, 2010)
With this recent change all funding has been put on hold and this as had a direct influence on the number of learners I can enrol. In order to remain professional I have had to look at various attributes learners offer and evaluate them against each other. I look at the length of time learners have been waiting for the course and then look at the commitment and experience learners have, this then gives me some insight into how they will manage with the course and allows me to assess retention figures. Whilst this all sounds very clinical it is professional and unbiased and it is a way that I can remain neutral to ensure best practice. After taking these matters into consideration, I next need to look at the team to learner ratios in order to assess that the quality of teaching and assessing time will not be affected. At the same time as taking all the above into account I also look at equal opportunities and diversity, assessing which settings have the most needs.
Legislation is about to change toward Supporting Teaching and Learning, making it a mandatory requirement for Teaching assistants to hold a minimum level 2 and using this strategy allows me to span across districts and include different ethnicities ensuring that opportunities are made available and provided equally. This includes providing opportunities for both genders to enrol onto the course.
The course that I teach is predominantly female, therefore, I have been working closely with settings to establish a link to provide opportunities for male learners to enrol. Encouraging settings to put forward their male assistants for this course which is promoting respect for equality, diversity and cultural differences.
To support and promote respect for genders and culture I professionally challenge any sexist or racist comments made in lessons. I promote respect through correcting mispronounced names and asking learners to correct me if I am incorrect in my pronunciation thus demonstrating my own professionalist behaviour. I fully appreciate that has a practitioner my behaviour may impact on my learners and even though they are adults they may follow my lead, therefore I ensure I demonstrate correct etiquette at all times not only through linguistics and verbal communication but also through visual communication, I make sure that all my learners recieve equal amounts of smiles and eye contact and I make every effort to involve everyone in my humour. I pay particular attention to any culture or specific learning needs of any of my learners that may affect behaviours but I make sure that I stay within the bounderies of the culture or gender while promoting non stereotypical assumptions.
I am very passionate about the course that I lead and teach (Supporting teaching and learning in schools) and I know that this can be contagious (it has been mentioned in observational feedback) personally I do not see this in a negative way. The passion that I have empowers me to pass on the correct knowledge to my learners, and teach them to appreciate their own strengths and values. However, I do endeavour to make every effort to make sure that my values remain professional and my personal judgements remain that way. Whilst I may give my personal experience has examples to learners, I always insist that they must always follow their own settings policies and procedures, using legislation and guidelines as their foundation and that I am an instrument to be used to help them on their way.
Another funding source that I work with is JCP (Job Centre Plus) the recent decline in employment has meant there are people who need retraining in order to get them back into employment. Government are making funds available to ensure that this happens. This as impacted on my responsbilities to the extent that I have needed to develop a new course in order to meet the needs of the people who need new skills.
Developing a new course has enabled me to further develop my own skills and practice. Having already established a formation for a scheme of work and having found my confidence within this area, I have been able to further develop my creativity and innovation in designing and creating resources to motivate new learners. Through reflecting on PCET I have been able to use the information and knowledge learned and put these into practice, experimenting with sustainable handouts which incorporate topics and subject matters learnt through PCET. I have needed to include topics of reflection and theorists, introducing these into lesson plans. Through doing this I have been able to extend my own knowledge and test what I have learnt by putting all this into practice, drawing on Kolbs reflective cycle. Introducing this cycle to my learners and learning them how to reflect on their learning in order to support them in developing their own practice.
Reflection is something I automatically carry out at the end of every session and at the end of every meeting and in reflection I probably do this unconsciously. As previously stated through attending PCET I realised how important reflection is to my practice, and to be able to take that forward to my own learners is important and enable them to engage with questions about the 'what', but also the 'how' and the 'why' (Mezirow, 1991) and to have knowledge of their own learning needs and the incentive to take these forward.
Throughout developing the new course I have needed to ensure that I meet certain criteria in order to meet specifications set by regulatory bodies. There are changes currently occuring within my courses and within the qualification framework in which all vocational qualifications are falling under one set of regulatory arrangements (QCF).
'The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) is the new framework for creating and accrediting qualifications in England' (Gov.uk, 2010)
As a result of this standards are changing for my course and in turn how I deliver this course will need to change. These changes will be monitored by the regulatory bodies that are in place to ensure that standards and benchmarks are maintained throughout the sector. To ensure that I meet best practice I am attending a meeting to discuss and familiarise myself with the new standards which is part of my course leader role and responsibilities I will then pass this information onto the rest of my team.
'Briefing / Information Day - Supporting Teaching and Learning In Schools City & Guilds, 4 Red Hall Court, Paragon Business Village, Wakefield. WF1 2UN1 June 2010. 10.30am - 15.00pm' King,[email protected],2010. Briefing / Information Day. [E-mail] Message sent to M Mayman. ([email protected]). Sent 26th April 2010
As the standards of the course are changing, the curriculum will need to change to meet the new standards. I will need to develop a new curriculum and again I will be drawing on the knowledge that I have gained through PCET and my own experience within this area. I am aware of some of the changes, that are coming forward through checking the City and Guilds redevelopment timetable website for updates, these keep me informed of how the course is changing, and which levels are falling under my umbrella and the proposed dates that these changes will take place. This information then allows me to plan and schedule meetings, to enable me to bring my team up to date with the proposed changes. (CityandGuilds, 2010)
Within my sector (Services to Business), there are many variations of teachers. There are assessors who guide and plan for their learner's next steps they also teach knowledge and understanding to learners, assessing their understanding and competence within the work place. There are then the internal verifiers, who monitor the assessors, making sure they are following the correct protocol and standardisations. Internal verifiers plan assessor's next steps in the assessment process so theoretically they are teaching. However, technically within the Lifelong Learning Sector (LLUK) there are only two identified teaching roles, there is the full teacher role and the associate teacher role. LLUK play a major role within education and define the way forward working towards a professional framework, liaising with national governments together they have developed key policies for the whole teaching and learning workforce.
'We will work with employers, trade unions, schools, colleges, universities, training providers and individuals themselves, to break down barriers to opportunity, and give everyone the best chance to make the most of themselves and their potential'. (Lifelong Learning UK, 2007)
There is always an institutional and governmental level of inspectors involved within monitoring. The regulatory bodies that I directly deal with are External verifiers who work on behalf of awarding bodies. They ensure that I meet all the legal requirements covering health and safety to safeguarding elements and ensure that all standardisation requirements are being met and they make sure that quality assurance is met and maintained. Audit, inspections, and observations are all mechanisms of the quality assurance process and part of the external verifier's role is to ensure there is an auditable paper trail thus in turn allows for funding to be accessed. Part of my role extends to ensuring that administration is up to date. New quality assurance systems require additional time that contributes toward institutional policies, strategies and assessment audits in theory they are all demonstrating a professional outlook. Other important regulatory bodies that I work indirectly with throughout the sector are Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) which is specific for HE/FE provision.
'The Handbook for the inspection of further education and skills from September 2009 provides guidance on inspection for inspectors and will be of use to colleges and providers of further education; work-based learning; adult and community learning; provision funded by the Department for Work and Pensions; and nextstep provision' (Ofsted, 2009)
Ofsted inspectors do not just monitor teaching provision they also look at the management provision, ensuring that confidence remains in its stakeholders. Ofsted position is also one of guidance, they have an inspection framework to follow, and the criteria set out are specific. Ofsted are in place to regulate and ensure that providers are meeting the needs of all learners in line with legislation, key policies, protocols, and procedures ensuring through questioning and observations that best practices are being met to the fullest level possible.
'We regulate and inspect to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages'. (Ofsted, 2009)
Personally I take my role within this area seriously and believe myself to be a professional. In reflection throughout the last few years I consider that I have developed my practice and my role as team leader. My confidence within my specialist area as developed and I am more autonomous within my role, developing curriculums and schemes of work to compliment those curriculums, being innovative and creative to motivate my learners. I work conscientiously along side colleagues respecting their individuality whilst being able to delegate tasks appropriately. I believe in myself and in the organisation that I promote. I strive for excellence and to be the best that I can be and I realise to progress and achieve my goals continual professional development and reflection is essential both personally and professionally and essentially that is what lifelong learning really means to me.
'Who dares to teach must never cease to learn'. (Chinese proverb)