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An Algorithm is just a process to follow

Posted by Richard on April 2, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Pete Yeomans has written an excellent blog identitying algorithms in everyday life.

http://peteyeomans.me/2014/04/02/computing-becoming-an-algorithmic-school/

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Gamification Illustrated through an Infographic

Posted by Richard on April 1, 2014 in Uncategorized |

 

gamification-education

from Getting Smart

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Social Media Explained through coffee

Posted by Richard on March 25, 2014 in Uncategorized |

image

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Crowdfunded research

Posted by Richard on March 23, 2014 in Uncategorized |

I am exploring the world of crowd funding for an excellent research idea I have.

I have a fantastic idea to explore the power of digital images to tell a story of the classroom.

I am proposing to run a research project to find out if using a life-logging camera to take a picture every 30 seconds, from the teacher’s point view, will encourage trainee teachers to be more reflective on what happens in the classroom. Therefore, as a consequence improve their performance.
My hypothesis is that when presented with a series of still images of classroom practice they are more likely to get involved in a reflective conversation than if the session was captured on video. When watching a video back, trainees often focus on their own positioning or mannerisms, rather than the classroom activities. When they do discuss the activities taking place, they is a lack of depth in the narrative as they just repeat back what is on the screen.
I am seeking funding to make this research a reality and I am will be spending the money on the following:
Narrative Clip Camera
Teaching cover to allow the teachers time to be involved in the discussions
Teaching cover for researcher

narrative clip

I really believe that life-logging cameras offer a different insight into classroom practice and will engage trainee teachers to develop as reflective practitioners.

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50 learning theorists

Posted by Richard on February 20, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Donald Clark has put together a fantastic list of learning theorists over the centuries

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9 Events of Instruction Infographic | e-Learning Infographics

Posted by Richard on February 20, 2014 in Uncategorized |

A really interesting take on Gagne’s 9 stages of instruction.

Taken from:

http://elearninginfographics.com/9-events-of-instruction-infographic/

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Can a worksop be observed? – Getting the best out of a workshop session

Posted by Richard on February 13, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Over the last month I have been involved in a number of discussions that have been around similar themes. Can you observe a workshop in the same way as a classroom lesson? What can I do to make sure I get a grade 2 in a workshop when the students are ‘just getting on with it’?

I have taught in workshops for over 10 years, and observed a few hundred, and have managed to gather a few ideas that can support teachers to structure their workshops effectively and demonstrate that a generic observation can be used to observe a workshop.

workshop

For this blog, when I am discussing a workshop I mean a session in which the students come in at a set time and are expected to carry out some practical work. The students can all be at different places in the practical and studying at different levels. But, it is not the roll-on-roll-off workshops in which students wander in at anytime to do work and leave at any time. Those workshops will be discussed in another blog post.

The workshops discussed in this blog can be in any vocational area; construction, computing, catering, hairdressing or art and design etc.

I believe is essential to establish a structure to the workshop to ensure that you can demonstrate progress is made and show that you have control of the learning that takes place (Ingle and Duckworth, 2013, p.98). The worst workshops I have observed are those which seem to demonstrate that the learners could have completed the work whether the teacher was there or not.

This basic structure allows you build in extra detail that will ensure that students are making progress and being challenged:

Start of Workshop:
Gather all of the students around a table or the whiteboard and quickly describe the expectations of this session. Then ask each student to explain where they currently are with the work and what they are going to do next. Get each student to write down their personal objectives for the session, what do they plan to do by the end of the workshop.

Workshop – Individual Progress Card

Middle of the workshop:
Wander around and support the students (Eccelstone, 2010, p.80). Make sure that you give equal time to the students if possible. There are often times when you end up helping a particular student for a long period of time, as their issue is complex. This could leave the other students feeling frustrated and not supported.

You could make use of techniques such as, a Waiting List (get the students to write their name on the board, and you will see them in turn), Take a Number (where the students take a number and wait their tune) or Traffic Lights (where a student will turn the traffic light to red when they are stuck and green if they are fine). You could still get stuck with one student; however, these techniques give the other students the perception that they will be seen at some point and will reduce any shouting out or frustration.

End of the workshop:
Towards the end of the session give the students time to revisit their learning objectives, set at the start, and reflect on their progress. They can then write down if they have achieved that objective and what they plan to do next, or explain why the objective was not met and discuss how they will find a solution to the issue.

DVD Extras:
Once the basic structure is in place, you could then add further elements to improve the quality of the session, dependant on the students you have.

  • At the start you could also get them to peer assess the work carried out so far.
  • Peers assess each other’s project plan to ascertain if they are on target or not.
  • Create a progress tracking card (soon to be attached to this blog), one for each student. You could then keep a record of the progress made of each student through their own objective setting and reflections.

What do you think? Do you run a workshop and could you structure it like this?

Do you have any ideas on how to get the best out of a workshop?
References:

Eccelstone, K. (2010) Transforming Formative Assessment in Lifelong Learning. Open University Press: London

Ingle, S. and Duckworth, V. (2013) Teaching and Training Vocational Learners. London: SAGE

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Policy Analysis of An analysis of the ‘Improving the Quality of Further Education and Skills Training’ policy, focusing on the Lingfield Report

Posted by Richard on January 28, 2014 in Uncategorized |

IntroductionLingfield Report

 

In 2007, the government published a policy titled, Further Education Qualifications Regulations, which stated all lecturers, teachers and trainers in post-compulsory education are required to be qualified. This was part of a wider campaign to professionalise the sector. Then in 2011, following the recommendations of the Lingfield Report, the government changed legislation (Education Act 2011) and generated a policy titled ‘Improving the Quality of Further Education and Skills Training’ that removed the requirement for Further Education lecturers to be qualified teachers from September 2013.

This assignment will analyse the key documents relating to the Improving the Quality of Further Education and Skills Training policy and review the levers that have been developed to generate policy trajectory. Critical Discourse Analysis will be used to examine the report titled ‘Professionalism in FE’ (Lingfield, 2012), or commonly referred to as the Lingfield Report, and the implementation changes in the qualification requirements of Further Education Lecturers in the Education Act 2011. This policy analysis will concentrate on the policy actions to ‘Make FE teaching more professional’ and the ‘freeing colleges from central control’.

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) see these reforms as a way to,

 …free Further Education and Sixth Form Colleges from bureaucratic burdens through the ‘freedoms and flexibility’ agenda. We agree that the current regulations on teaching qualifications are not fit for purpose and that they should be revoked…making FE teacher training more professional. (BIS, 2013)

However, the Association of Colleges (AOC) state,

…we believe that all lecturers new to teaching should achieve an ‘induction’ qualification. Those who are employed full time should obtain a Level 5 qualification within a reasonable time for their own development and to maximise their progression in their careers but ultimately because this is a guarantee of quality for students (Mercer, 2012).

The National Union of Students are also concerned that this is going to “…have many negative impacts on students and their learning experience.” (NUS Connect, online, 2013) and the Institute for Learning (IfL) stated, “It is important to note professional development has been and is acknowledged by all as being an essential factor in staff motivation, development and performance.” (IfL, online, 2012)

 

Historical Background

After the publication of the Wolf Report (2011), and a review of the recommendations, the government drew up the Improving the Quality of Further Education and Skills Training policy. This policy is made up a plethora of different documents that examine the range of issues across the post-compulsory education sector and offer a range of recommendations.

This policy was driven by the perceived need by the government to guarantee students high quality teaching and courses that enable students to access university or employment. Further Education has endured at least six changes of governing body since 2000, and the government wanted to free colleges from any centralised regime and allow them to control their own destiny. They believed that by doing this, colleges of Further Education would be able to manage the workforce and qualifications better, thus improving quality.

Before 1992, Further Education colleges were controlled by the Local Education Authorities (LEA) and the colleges themselves decided how qualified their staff should be, and how they deemed to class the professionalism (Lingfield, 2012, p.16).  In 1992, the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 removed Further Education colleges from LEA control and funded them through a separate body called the Further Education Funding Councils. Further Education colleges no longer received a standard grant from the LEA and became businesses who had to manage their finances directly.

This deregulation from the LEA and exposure to market forces encouraged a culture of entrepreneurial management, which led to financially incentivised education. Colleges received an amount of money for each student and an increased the amount of, cheaper, Part-time hourly paid Lecturers or Assessors, who were un-qualified, leading to a to some believing the sector was becoming de-professionalised (Mather et al, 2007)

In 1998, the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 established the General Teaching Council (GTC) for schools that was tasked to develop professional guidelines that all school teachers must abide by. This was followed in 2002, by the green paper ‘14-19; extending opportunities, raising standards’ published that developed the 14-19 curriculum, viewing Further Education as an extension of the school system. This led to the establishment of the Institute for Learning (IfL) as a professional body to compliment the GTC and to be a lever in the raising of standards in Further Education.

A white paper, written in 2006, made it a legal requirement, from 2007, that all those teaching in Further Education had to have a teaching qualification and submit a record of 30 hours Continual Professional Development (CPD). This was monitored and administered by the IfL. Any lecturer not conforming to this legislation was to have their ‘licence to teach’ revoked (Plowright and Barr, 2012).

In 2011, Lord Lingfield was requested by the government to establish a panel to review the Further Education sector in line with the objectives set out in the ‘Improving the Quality of Further Education and Skills Training’ policy.

He highlighted that Further Education is fundamentally a complex system, in particular since 2007 when public, private and charitable training organisations came under the banner of Further Education, and any national legislation such as the requirement for qualified staff was destined be difficult to implement (Lingfield, 2012, p. 16). Though he goes on to concede that the myriad of quality process put into place since 1993 have improved the standards across the sector, which before this time varied greatly across the country (Lingfield, 2012, p.20).

 

 

‘Improving the Quality of Further Education and Skills Training’ Policy

 

The policy falls between two government departments; the Department of Education (DfE), who are responsible for students aged 16 – 18 year olds, and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), who are responsible for students that are 19 years old and over.

 

Who is the audience?

 

The Lingfield report is publicly available for anyone in the education sector to read, in particular those in strategic positions such as Principals and Senior Managers. However, from the text it would seem that the implied audience for the report is ministers in the government who are responsible for national strategic change in the Further Education sector. Lingfield directs a lot of the recommendations, which are very abstract and lacking any pragmatic approaches at local level, towards national government strategy.

We believe that with a clear set of aims, a better approach to the key policy and funding relationships with government, and a heightened understanding of its status, the sector can begin to take full advantage of greater autonomy (Lingfield, 2012, p3)

We envisage that the government’s steps to reduce detailed oversight of the sector will add still greater urgency to the need to raise the standard of governance (Lingfield, 2012, p5).

At one point, the text in the report addresses the government directly, “The Review panel believes the government would agree that…” (Lingfield, 2012, p27)

The newly appointed directors of the Education and Training Foundation (formerly the FE Guild) could also be an additional target audience for the paper. As many of the recommendations involve them as a key lever to implement the policy further.

The proposed FE Guild gives an opportunity to underline the sector’s unity whilst still recognising its diversity… We suggest that the Guild might become the co-ordinating awarding organisation… (Lingfield, 2012, p4).

 

Other documents and levers

 

The recommendations were developed from a number of different reviews and consultations. These actions included changing the funding mechanism, improving the quality of apprenticeships, expanding the teaching of mathematics, English and vocational courses, and extending the provision of work experience.

From these recommendations, the government has developed a number of policy levers that will change the learning landscape. These include developing a new funding structure, legislation freeing colleges from a central control, introducing a new traineeship programme and reforming the 16-19 vocational qualifications through qualifications reviews.

One of the policy drivers for the Improving the Quality of Further Education and Skills Training Policy was the need to improve the quality of teaching. Lord Lingfield was commissioned to chair a review panel and write a report that examined professionalism in Further Education. The guidelines from this report would then act as policy levers to encourage educational organisations to adopt the government policy. On the review panel, alongside Lord Lingfield, were David Sherlock, Dawn Ward and Daniel Wright. These colleagues represented adult, community and college education sectors.

Who were the other stakeholders?

 

Lingfield’s conclusions and recommendations in his report (Lingfield, 2012) are drawn from consultations with a number of stakeholders. The report cites conversations with Outstanding Further Education providers, oversees providers and research evidence.

 

From these consultations, Lingfield formed the opinions that the Further Education sector was full of fear, constraint by too many external controls, confused by multiple funding streams and had teachers who were under the illusion that the structured regulations protected them from unfair employers. He also noted that the majority of the professionals spoken to wanted less centralised control.

Lingfield came to a quick conclusion that successful, mature, institutions have near autonomy to support local need. It should be noted that Colleges have had some autonomy since Incorporation of Further Education in 1997, when a degree of deregulation was introduced (Hyland and Merrill, 2003). This has not always met with success, as seen through examples such as Doncaster College (BBC News, 2009).

The Lingfield Report takes the UNESCO and Wolf report definition of Further Education as its basis for the argument. UNESCO focuses on Further Education as vocational and that it is the development of knowledge and practical skills to support different sectors of the economy and social life (Lingfield, 2012). Wolf (2011) agrees with this, and states that vocational education offers direct access to Higher Education, while also offering the chance to develop valuable skills to a high standard.

The Wolf quote used by Lingfield to define Further Education had the follow sentence removed,

Conventional academic study encompasses only part of what the labour market values and demands: vocational education can offer different content, different skills, different forms of teaching. (Wolf, 2011, p7)

It could be that this sentence confuses the definition pursued by Lingfield to meet the policy requirements. This sentence does give a suggestion to the complex nature of Further Education and the role it plays within the education sector. For example, neither of the definitions discusses the remedial literacy and numeracy work carried out, or teaching of students with disabilities and learning difficulties.

Lingfield did highlight agreement with Wolf that some courses on offer in Further Education organisations were ineffective. These included short courses for young people and low-level course with no labour market value.

Lingfield states that he can see the diversity of Further Education as a challenge to a consistent professional identity. There are nearly two hundred thousand teaching staff in the sector and over four million students (Lingfield, 2012, p18); around one hundred and fifty thousand of these are studying higher education. This compares to 232,000 secondary teachers and 204,000 primary teachers (DfE, 2013).

Lingfield’s report discussed how the previous government had approached the improving professionalism in the post-compulsory sector by introducing a professional body to oversee standards. This was a similar model to that established in the medical profession (General Medical Council) and Law (General Council of the Bar). The previous government introduced the Institute for Learning (IfL) to establish a set of standards that professional Further Education teachers would be expected to abide by.  Membership to this professional body was made compulsory, and all teachers would be expected to complete at least thirty hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to maintain this membership.

Lingfield suggested that the IfL had little effect on the sector as a whole and was based on historical connotations of professionalism. Plowright and Barr (2012) suggest that the IfL was more interested in requiring teachers to conform than become professional practitioners. However, NIACE (2011) are convinced that the IfL has progressed professionalism in Further Education and that learners are best supported by teachers committed to maintaining high standards.

Later in the report, Lingfield suggests that Further Education teachers do not have to be members of IfL to retain their professionalism. He is therefore stating that, unlike medicine and Law, Further Education teachers can be professional without membership of a professional body. Schmidt (2000) supports this view in his suggestion that professionals do not need to be a member of a professional association to be a professional. He went to say that it is often the case that the membership of a group leads to subordination and lack of creativity.

Lord Lingfield and his review panel state in their report that they are sure the employment legislation that already exists covers any gross misconduct and that there is no need for a professional body to monitor any serious offences. This mirrors the decision made by the Department for Education to abolish the General Teaching Council that managed misconduct issues for the secondary and primary sectors (Shepherd, 2010; Education Act, 2011).

Lingfield states that all lecturers working with learners in the literacy and numeracy subjects need to have specific qualifications, he suggests that this is implemented through specific diplomas in Further Education Initial Teacher Training (ITT). However, he then goes on to state that Further Education needs to focus on the remit of vocational training, that community courses should only be offered as a supplementary, and remedial literacy and numeracy (gaps in knowledge of the fundamentals of mathematics and English) should be left to the schools. This is despite the reports own statistics that in 2011, 14% of 16 – 18 year olds left school functionally illiterate and 28% left innumerate (Lingfield, 2012, p18)

Lingfield suggests that the long-term goal of the Improving the Quality of Further Education and Skills Training policy is to lean Further Education more towards Higher Education (HE) than the school sector. The concept would be to form one post-compulsory sector, similar to that found in the United States of America.

Throughout the text, it does seem that the policy and the guidelines are dependent on the formation of the Education and Training Foundation to become the main policy lever.

The proposed FE Guild gives an opportunity to underline the sector’s unity…into a conclusion of an FE Covenant. We are enthusiastic about the potential for a Guild to offer a means of shared enterprise for the sector and enhanced staff professionalism (Lingfield, 2012, p4).

This formation is currently in a status of flux as different stakeholders clarify their positions with this new organisation. One of the main concerns is about how this new foundation will view teaching qualifications. The Directorship is made up of representation from across the college and adult community education sector. However, there is no representation from a Higher Education Institute (HEI) responsible for the delivery of Further Education teacher training. The closest figure for this role is an Administrator from Teesside University, Mark White. Teesside’s post-compulsory teacher training department itself was only awarded a grade three in a recent Ofsted visit, stating it need to improve and requires a re-observation in 2014 (Ofsted, 2013a).

The Lingfield report’s policy recommendations are dependent on the Education and Training Foundation to become the policy lever and make changes through partnerships between professional lecturers and their employers. There is an expectation that this would include the encouragement by the employer for the lecturers to study for qualifications that improve their pedagogical knowledge.

It will also be the role of the Education and Training Foundation to look into parity of pay with schoolteachers. There is the possibility that this new pay structure could be used to encourage teaching staff to take up any policy levers recommended by the Education and Training Foundation, especially as a financial incentive was seen as good practice in the BIS evaluation of the take up of September 2007 regulations (BIS, 2012).

Since 2007, BIS and DfE have been working together to establish a common connection between traditional secondary Qualified Teaching Status (QTS) and the IfL’s professional formation qualification, Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) (DfE, 2012).  This is supported by the teaching landscape of Further Education, as this sector also includes students aged 14-16 and it allows teaching staff to move freely between secondary and post-compulsory training.

 

Has the policy developed incrementally?

 

Lord Lingfield suggests in the report that all of the recommendations and guidelines can be implemented in the lifetime of one government. A review of the September 2007 regulations did show that there had been a significant impact of educational policy in one parliament sitting (BIS, 2012).

However, it is these very regulations that the policy is set to remove. Lingfield’s review panel recommended the removal of the 2007 regulations (the need for all teachers of Further Education to be qualified) from September 2012 (Lingfield, 2011, p32). This will leave the need for a teaching qualification to the discretion of the educational institutions. Thus, allowing employers to have more power over whom they recruit and supporting the government’s Academies agenda by allowing schools to hire subject specialists, rather than qualified teachers.

Lingfield outlines how the teaching qualifications for teachers in Further Education could be streamlined to be more effective and less confusing. The policy will state there will now only be a preparatory level award, an undergraduate Certificate in Further Education and a Post-graduate diploma in Further Education. These changes were taken from advice offered by consulted awarding bodies that currently teach the more complex range of teaching awards. Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) run a large proportion of further education teacher training and not one of these was consulted on the changes in the qualifications. This could be seen as Lingfield placing the blame of the confusion of the convoluted courses on these HEIs.

The report clearly states that Lingfield wishes educational policy to ensure that that those teaching the foundation skills of literacy and numeracy in Further Education and those teaching learners with disabilities should attain at least a level 5 specialist diploma. This goes against his previous driver regarding de-regulation of qualifications. His concern was that the dual-professionalism (a skilled tradesperson and a teacher) of the Further Education sector does not usually contain any relevant development or qualifications for teaching those functional skills. However, all teachers within Further Education are expected to embed the teaching of literacy and numeracy with their subject (Ofsted, 2012a). There is the risk that without formal teaching qualifications, and the support offered on an ITT course, vocational teachers will fail to be able embed these functional skills effectively.

Lingfield acknowledges that some lecturers they consulted felt concerned that loosing formal teaching qualifications could lead to them feeling vulnerable in their employment, as they are not protected by any statutory instrument; especially as they could become de-skilled and not able to keep up to date with their subject specialism, due to teaching commitments.  However, Lingfield is convinced that this ‘is intrusive government’ and a weakness in the sector. He is assured that the formation of the Education and Training Foundation will stabilise this.

The Education and Training Foundation promises to include stakeholders from across the sector, including teachers. However, there is the possibility that Lingfield has placed such importance on the Foundation to become the main lever of the policy that they could become a dictatorial, centrally led, governance of the Further Education sector. The very thing Lingfield is trying to lever the policy away from.

The report goes on to state the policy will remove the state funding for the IfL. This has made the professional body of IfL, the sole provider of QTLS, purely voluntary. Membership of the IfL has fallen by over 60% in the last two years (Lee, 2013) and this leaves the recording of CPD, a staple expectation of professionalism (Kultgen, 1988), un-monitored until the Education and Training Foundation is established.

 

 

 

Critical Discourse Analysis

 

The Lingfield report attempts to distance itself from the previous government by continually stating that the decisions they made were wholly ineffective and disregarding the organisational structure that the government had put into place to make improvements.

…further education has fallen under the policy determination of at least six iterations of the relevant government policy department structures in the past decade… a policy and funding landscape as now exists in England is unlikely to help a sense of coherent professional identity in FE (Lingfield, 2012, p16)

The Lingfield panel’s support of the current government’s agenda of deregulation and simplification of funding shows that they have positioned themselves with the Conservatives. This could lead the reader to identify that the paper is not objective and an obvious policy lever of the current government. This would support the initial thought that the implied audience for the paper is current government ministers.

The government’s influential policy documents, Skills for Sustainable Growth and, particularly, New Challenges, New Chances, define the arena in which staff professionalism should play an influential part. It includes… reducing the intrusiveness of national government agencies (Lingfield, 2012, p17)

The report is systematically distorted and ideological complex (Huckin, 2002). The report is systematically distorted because of the organisations and individuals the panel chose to consult with do not represent the range of socio-economic issues and conflicts that occur throughout the sector. The panel’s focus on discussions with outstanding educational institutions fails to take a view of those that are struggling due to issues in their locality and the difficulty of implementing centralised agenda items.

The ideological complexities (contradictory views of the world) in the document come from the suggested view that colleges seen more like private training agencies would be better placed in the market to support employers and improve standards. Lingfield states, “…nearly eight of 10 [employers] prefer private providers over other FE organisations..” (p.28), and that private agencies, concerned about retention, than any FE college (p.33). However, Lingfield is clear that colleges still have a social responsibility to support local need, “…serving their local communities…” (p.ii), which can be at odds with the need to be financially viable and competitive. For example, if there is a local need to improve the computer skills of elderly residents to access the council’s online services with limited funding. This would struggle to compete for resources and priority against a lucrative course supporting up-skilling of the un-employed.

Supporting local need could also conflict with the government’s agenda to develop the economy to be globally competitive. On one hand Lingfield suggests, “…changing balance of authority away from those who administer grants to finance the system and towards the students and local employer who, increasingly, fund study” (p.ii) and on the other states a national agenda for “…FE to re-affirm its primary mission to offer practical learning which lead to the availability of a technically-skilled workforce to power high economic performance” (p.27).  Encouraging too much support of local need could lead to short-term skills development and not a skilled workforce to compete in the future global economy (Keep, 2012).

There is also confusion on who is responsible for the different aspects of the education sector. Education has become politicised and driven by government agenda. Lingfield seems to base his discussions on conversations with many stakeholders across the sector and supports this with referenced sources. However, without having access to the transcripts it could be that the reader is being shown the research that supports the ideologies of the panel.

The Lingfield report is clear on removing the complexities of governance of the Further Education sector by removing the teaching of 14 – 16 year olds and therefore the funding from the Department of Education. The review panel is also adamant that it is the schools responsibility to correct the skills gap generated in mathematics and English.

However, the report then goes onto to stress how important it is be qualified to teach mathematics and English in Further Education, “An important concern needing further study was the level of qualifications appropriate for lecturers in the foundation skills of literacy and numeracy” (Lingfield, 2012, p12), and makes no guidelines on how Further Education is going to handle the increasing innumerate and illiterate, and how schools are going to overcome this issue. The review panel also fails to address the increasing teaching of vocational courses in secondary schools and how parity of qualifications and pay would create a mobile workforce and require BIS and the DfE to work closely together.

 

There are also complexities and contradictions around the suggestion in the report that Further Education should reduce it’s priorities regarding community work, “we suggest that the vocational role of FE should be regarded as having primacy, while community provision has a…subsidiary role…That role should be the secondary task of FE.“ (Lingfield, 2012, p.2). Yet there is still an expectation that Further Education Colleges should meet local need, “…mature organisations in further education should be left alone, in near autonomy, to get on with serving their students, their local communities…” (Lingfield, 2012, pii).

The report continues the discussion about the reduction of the confusion around ITT courses in Further Education and yet increases a layer of complexity via a myriad of specialist diplomas. The Lingfield report uses quotes and suggestions by experts to demonstrate authority and then asserts its power  (Rizvi and Lingard, 2010) by stating that the Education and Training Foundation must clarify the position on qualifications and funding.

The Lingfield report places itself as the primary lever for the Improving the Quality of Further Education and Skills Training policy by writing it’s own definition of Further Education and professionalism. It also does this by stating that the panel has consulted with a number of stakeholders and by setting recommendations that fit within the current government strategies, such as deregulation and funding reduction. This is despite its very brief (or no) consideration for a number of other papers that have been produced for the Further Education sector (Ufi, 2012; BIS 2012)

This policy lever seems to be taking the stance of the ‘synoptic’ method of policy application (a single central planning authority), which seems to be against the principles of the report’s direction to remove centralised bureaucracy, “We believe…the sector can begin to take full advantage of greater autonomy. The proposed FE Guild gives an opportunity to underline the sector’s unity whilst still recognising its diversity,” (Lingfield, 2012, p4). This is opposed to the ‘incremental’ method, which builds on experience step by step (Haddad, 1995). Again, this seems to be a way to distance itself from the previous government and is more about shuffling the pieces than any radical change.

The Lingfield report is also egocentric towards the review panel. The language used suggests that the panel places themselves in high authority and speak with great knowledge on the subject, “…the Review panel recommends that the required qualification should be our proposed new Level 5 Certificate in Further Education” (Lingfield, 2012, p12). As previously discussed, the panel has consulted with others, yet the text makes it sound as if it is the panel themselves who are recommending the changes.

It does seem that the Lingfield report is trying to place itself in a power position in education sector as a whole by recommending changes to the secondary school processes, as well as Further Education. Ultimately, the panel will be handing over control to the Education and Training Foundation, which would mean they could deflect blame to the organisation that will be tasked with implementing these recommendations, rather than their own text.

 

Voices

 

The Lingfield report was drawn from consultations with a number of people and organisations involved in adult and Further Education. The report highlights that they had conversed with ‘outstanding’ education institutions. But, these discussions were held with outstanding agencies to identify good practice, without trying to consider the complex issues of the sector and how organisations not classed as outstanding are successfully tackling these. This could include learners from deprived areas, low academic ability and with learning difficulties.

It is also interesting to note that the ‘outstanding’ agencies chosen to be consulted were all, in fact, awarded ‘grade 2’ in their latest Ofsted reports (Ofsted, 2013b; Ofsted, 2012b; Ofsted 2012c). There is a range of other colleges, who could have been consulted, that had been awarded outstanding by Ofsted and are consistently seen as delivering a high standard of learning in Further Education (Ofsted, 2013c).

Tackling the skills gap is seen in the report as one of the key elements to improve the sector, “That [mission] drift is the result of both the remedial task inherited by FE from weak schools” (Lingfield, 2012, p27).  However, no schools were consulted regarding the feasibility of tackling this gap in numeracy and literacy skills.

More of a surprise was that no parents or students were consulted or asked about whether they would be concerned about the professionalism of teachers if qualifications were removed. This is contradictory to Ofsted’s emphasis Further Education organisations listening to the student voice.

Throughout the entire Lingfield report, there is also no indication of the role that technology can play to transform the Further Education sector. Implementation of a new policy and changes of legislation was an opportunity to review all of the processes and systems used, as well as teaching methods, and then suggest radical changes that could engage new models of learning and efficient business systems. Of those consulted, none were specialists in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) and the Lingfield report does not go anywhere near as far as the recommendations set out by the Ufi Trust (2012).  The Ufi Trust created a list of recommendations on the use of technology in teaching from a similar sector wide consultation.

A large proportion of the sentences within the writing of the Lingfield report are focused on the Education and Training Foundation. For example “The proposed FE Guild gives an opportunity to underline the sector’s unity whilst still recognising its diversity” (p.5) and “[the FE Guild] will act as an overarching body with end to end responsibility for professionalism across the sector”(p.23). This would suggest that the report is assuming the, yet to be formed, foundation will adopt the recommendation and be given the power to implement these. It seems inefficient not make use of the IfL, which already exists as a guide for professionalism in Further Education and has gone through a restructure of it’s own recently.  This is another example of the Lingfield report distancing itself from the previous government and aligning itself if the current parliament.

The Lingfield panel takes the position of power throughout the text and is confident in their findings. They are convinced by the results of their research and make it perfectly clear that their recommendations are the answer to improve the sector. In the text, Lingfield states on a number occasions that he is ‘sure the government would agree’ (Lingfield, 2012, p.27).

The overall register of the text is optimistic. Throughout the writing Lingfield uses direct quotes to reaffirm the panel’s position and demonstrate that the policy and his recommendations will work to transform the Further Education sector.

There does not seem to be any evidence of what Goffman (1967) called ‘face work’, in which the writer offers solidarity at first then becomes more negative and attempts to distance himself from the issues. Even though a lot of the implementations will be handed over to the Education and Training Foundation, Lingfield remains positive and enthusiastic that they will able to carry out the recommendations from the report.

 

Implementation

The Education and Training Foundation has recruited its directors and is in the process of creating a number of working parties to address the recommendations raised in the Lingfield report. Even though the sector is still waiting for the foundation to become established, Further Education organisations are already taken on their recommendations. Many of the courses offered have been reviewed, many short-courses have been cancelled, and there has been a reduction in the delivery of community teaching.

Initial Teacher Training in Further Education has already had their qualifications reviewed, and these have been altered in-line with Lingfield’s recommendations. Many Higher Education Institutes have taken it upon themselves, before the final Lingfield report was published, to alter qualifications. This is due to time it takes to revalidate qualifications in Higher Education. The funding mechanisms for these teaching qualifications have also changed, and there are no more bursaries for teaching courses, except for trainees studying specialist diplomas.

The IfL has reverted to become a voluntary subscription organisation, and there is no requirement for teaching staff to join or to report their CPD. Yet, many Further Education organisations are still requiring Further Education Lecturers and teachers to be qualified above level 5 and to reflect on their practice and development.

As well as waiting for the Education and Training Foundation to become established, organisations still need to explore the reduction of numeracy and literacy remedial work and identify how this skill gap will be addressed in schools. Also, there are no plans for organisations to take on-board the discussion in the Lingfield report about parity of pay with school teachers and to generate timetabled hours to allow lecturers to continue their professional development. Lingfield highlights those colleges in Canada that offer lecturers, every five years, a year in their industry to develop their skills.

 

Methodology:

Key papers for this essay were gathered, and a policy analysis carried out, focusing on the changes in professionalism of FE teachers. It was important to combine a number of methods of policy analysis to get a clear picture of how the professionalism of FE teachers maybe affected by the de-regulation of the qualifications in the sector. This research started with Critical Discourse Analysis of the Lingfield Report and an examination of its trajectory so far. There was also a discussion on the implementation of the policy and indications of future developments.

Method:

To analyse the Lingfield report I utilised the key questions laid out by Rizvi and Lingard (2010). In particular those questions relating to the historical context, textual construction and interests involved. For the discourse analysis, I used Huckin’s Framework for Critical Discourse Analysis (Grbich, 2013), which splits the evaluation into two parts, Identifying and Interpretation. In the identifying phase, Huckin suggests that the researcher reads the paper once as a reader, and then reads the text more critically. It was at this point that I began to write what the Lingfield report was discussing and how it placed itself as a policy lever. After this, the researcher needs to identify strategies of placement, note what could have been said (but was not) and identify whose voices are used and whose are not.

In the Interpretation phase, the researcher needs to note the use of sentences and who is powerful and who is passive. There should also be an analysis of any question statements the author is taking for granted, note insinuations to take power from people and note connotations and use of uncertainty.  The researcher should also highlight the register of the writing and describe if it is optimistic or skeptical.

References:

BBC News (2009) College suspends finance director [online] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/south_yorkshire/8028992.stm [13 December 2013]

BIS. (2012). Evaluation of FE Teachers’ Qualifications Regulations 2007. London: Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

BIS. (2013). Improving the Quality of Further Education and Skills Training. London: Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

DfE (2013). School workforce in England: November 2012. London: Department for Education

DfE (2012). Information on Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status recognition in schools. [online] http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/careers/traininganddevelopment/qts/a00205922/qlts-guidance [9 December 2013]

Education Act (2011).

Goffman, E. (1967). Interaction ritual: Essays on face to face behavior. New York: Doubleday

Grbich, C. (2013). Qualitative Data Analysis. London: SAGE

Haddad, W. (1995). Education policy-planning process: an applied framework. Paris: UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning

Huckin, T. (2002) Critical Discourse Analysis and the Discourse of Condescension. In E. Barton and G. Stygall (Eds.), Discourse Studies in Composition (Chapter 7) London: Hampton Press.

Hyland, T and Merrill, B. (2003). The Changing Face of Further Education: Lifelong Learning, Inclusion and Community Values in Further Education. London: Routledge

Keep, E. (2012). Education and industry: taking two steps back and reflecting. Journal of Education and Work, 25(4) 357-379

Kultgen, J. (1988). Ethics and Professionalism. USA: University of Pennsylvania Press

IfL. (2012). IfL responds to final report of FE professionalism review. Retrieved October 27, 2013 from:

http://www.ifl.ac.uk/newsandevents/press-releases/ifl-responds-to-final-report-of-fe-professionalism-review

Lee, J. (2013) Figures reveal the changing picture of IfL. Times Educational Supplement, 11 January 2013

Lingfield, R. (2012) Professional in FE – Final Report October 2012. Established by the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning

Mather, K., Worrall, L. and Seifert, R. (2007) Reforming further education: the changing labour process for college lecturers. Personnel Review, 36(1) 109-127

Mercer, J. (2012) Consultation on Revocation of Further Education Teachers’ Qualifications (England) 2007 and Further Education Teachers’ Continuing Professional Development and Registration Regulations (England) 2007. London: AOC

NIACE (2011). Strong and professional IfL will benefit adult learners [online] http://www.niace.org.uk/news/strong-and-professional-ifl-will-benefit-adult-learners [13 December 2013]

NUS Connect. (2013) Revoking the need for teaching qualifications in FE. Retrieved October 28, 2013 from: http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/news/article/teachingandlearning/Revoking-the-need-for-teaching-qualifications-in-FE/

Ofsted (2012a). Handbook for the inspection of further education and skills. Mancherster: Ofsted

Ofsted (2012b). Learning and Skills Inspection report: Walsall Adult and Community College. Ofsted

Ofsted (2012c). Learning and Skills Inspection report: Brighton, Hove and Sussex College. Ofsted

Ofsted (2013a). Teesside University Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Inspection Report. Manchester: Ofsted

Ofsted (2013b). Learning and Skills Inspection report: Rochdale Sixth Form College. Ofsted

Ofsted (2013c). Further Education and skills inspections and outcomes: official statistics release. Ofsted

Plowright, D. and Barr, G. (2012). An integrated professionalism in further education: a time for phronesis? Journal of Further and Higher Education, 36(1) 1-16

Rizvi, F. and Lingard, B (2010) Globalizing Education Policy. Oxon: Routledge.

Shepherd, J. (2010) Gove to abolish General Teaching Council for England. The Guardian Newspaper 2nd June 2010

Schmidt, J. (2000). Disciplined Minds: A critical look at salaried professionals and the soul-battering system that shapes their lives. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Ufi (2012) Scaling Up. Ufi Charitable Trust

Wolf, A. (2011) Review of Vocational Education – The Wolf Report. London: Department of Education

 

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20 top tips for academic writing

Posted by Richard on January 22, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Just come across this excellent writing blog and in particular this article giving top tips for academic writing:

 

This Itch of Writing

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Getting gamification wrong

Posted by Richard on January 14, 2014 in Uncategorized |

A really interesting article by Adam Peneberg on getting gamification wrong and turning it into pointification.

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