Improving teaching: the key to raising standards

Raising standards in teaching and learning requires effective leadership and support within further education

29 July 2013 / Be the first to comment

The publication of Sir Michael Wilshaw’s annual learning and skills report in November 2012 and its comment that the quality of teaching ‘is still not good enough’ was a bitter blow for the FE sector. 

Subsequent inspection changes mean that for colleges to be rated outstanding overall they must now be rated outstanding for teaching, learning and assessment (TLA). Raising standards in teaching and learning is no easy feat; it requires rigorous performance management systems and a shift in teaching and learning methodology. Ofsted wants to see leadership setting this agenda and steering change.

This is a challenging brief, aggravated by the absence of a coherent best practice framework. FE leaders need more support to develop teaching and learning policies for practice. Inquiry into what outstanding looks like in a vocational classroom or context is vital so that clear routes to improvement can be shaped and defined.

There is development in this area and some guidance available for FE leaders. The research project conducted by LSN and the City & Guilds Centre for Skills Development on effective teaching and learning in vocational education has led to useful discussions and insight. And May’s launch of the new Centre for Research and Development in Lifelong Education (CRADLE) heralds the beginning of a new dawn for FE pedagogy.

Professor Gleeson said, ‘The launch of CRADLE is a landmark development. CRADLE is being launched at an opportune time when the demand for high-quality vocational education and training is high on the policy agenda for improving the life chances and employment opportunities of young people and adults.’

It is now up to FE leaders to engage in this process and enter into TLA dialogue at national and local level. It’s also important to provide opportunities for existing outstanding teachers to share best practice and join networked communities beyond their own context so that TLA practice continues to evolve, improve and have impact.

City & Guilds’ Advance consultancy service helps your business turn the challenges of an ever-evolving sector into new opportunities and successes. Expert-led and delivered through a tailored programme of consultancy, masterclasses and events, Advance provides support through quality and delivery improvement, and business planning. Find out more at or call 0800 334 5054.

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