Managing risk: professionalism and teaching qualifications

Qualification consultant Karen Pontin discusses the implications of removing the requirement for teaching qualifications

02 April 2014

If you asked leaders in education and training in the UK were they interested in ‘more for less’, ‘cost reduction’ or ‘making savings’ you would be bowled over by a resounding chorus of positives. Inevitably if you ask the same group do they want to ‘promote lower standards’, ‘cut corners’ or ‘reduce quality’ and the same resounding chorus would be in the negative.

At the end of 2013 the legislative requirement for all ‘teachers’ in the FE sector in England to be qualified was removed by the government’s Department for Education. In some organisations there was a sigh of relief as the announcement was viewed as a method of reducing expenditure and staff development time. However in many organisations (and other nations) it raised eyebrows rather than morale as the possible implications of the change were considered.

In the FE sector teaching qualifications have always been used as an objective and rational measure of what a ‘teacher’ knows and can do and enable some confidence that a level of attainment has been reached. So in the absence of a rational and objective measure what will be used?

It is feasible to use internal performance measures but these are often not specific or sufficiently focussed to measure the skills, knowledge of teachers and the quality of teaching practice. Teachers may be comfortable delivering their subject area but what about overarching issues such as Equality, Inclusiveness and Health, Safety and Welfare? How do employers control the risks inherent in having teaching staff who have not been trained in these less practical areas?

There is a view that removing the requirement to be qualified from the sector will increase costs in the longer term as poor practice increases and quality declines. Imagine the adverse publicity if the falling standards were identified by Ofsted and the fact that staff were not qualified made public.

Has your organisation assessed the risks?

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