Friday 11 April 2008

Option 3 revisited

Some of you may remember my articles about the lack of options apparently available to staff at FE colleges who didn't have what was described as an 'appropriate teaching qualification'. Back in 2006 we were faced with new regulations that seemed to say that we all had to have one, or be working towards one, by September 2007.

I had enrolled on a course and found it a complete waste of time and was intending to do an on-line one instead with Greenwich but still knew it was going to be really tough finding the spare time to do it properly and, to be honest, I genuinely believe that I'm familiar with much of the theory of teaching and put it into practice pretty darn well, with great obsevation reports and student feedback (even when I don't bribe them!)

All that culminated in my Option 3 article which got me lots of friends and also into approximately the same volume of trouble. All I wanted was some form of recognition for years of experience and existing qualifications and a shorter, less time-consuming route to proving to the Powers That Be that I'm a reasonable bloke to run a class or two.

Well, it's been Registration Time at IfL, who seem to have persuaded some Civil Servants that they should be the sole organisation policing the regulations, and everyone has been nagged to do the honours in our sector. I approached this with some trepidation because I was wondering how on earth I would be able to register without having, or being able to prove that I was working towards, a suitable qualification.

On the site I filled in the details and put down the first course that I'd started, that being the only entry that I thought would get me to the next screen, and you needed to go through all of them to complete the process. At the end I got to the 'Hurray!' screen and was congratulated on registering which was nice but worried me a bit. So I wrote to their enquiries address to say that, whilst I had started the course and was considering enrolling on another, I was hoping that there would be another option available and didn't know what to put in the boxes.

Returning to the site later, I noticed a section that explained the regulations in Plain English. There I learned that the regulations don't require me to have any qualification at all! I had started teaching way before 2001. I have to register to record my CPD development - the 30 hours a year that we all need to do and which I have always said is reasonable, indeed pretty modest. But the best was in another section. There it announced that IfL were arranging for those with existing qualifications and experience to have some sort of accreditation and hence be granted some exemption from certain qualification modules or units. Of course, there were no further details but at least they are, to coin a phrase, working towards an Option 3. Great! Just wish I hadn't been worrying for a couple of years about it all and hoping no-one had asked how I was getting on with the 'course'.

Now, it may still turn out that I get no more than 1/4 of a unit exemption for an FAETC and various other bits and pieces I've accumulated so I shall not get too excited but knowing that (a) there is no legal compulsion to have a qualification (unless the College change my contract) and (b) I've been able to get registered with IfL with honest declarations after all is a great relief and I can get on with preparing some staff training courses. Strangely, most of those attending will have much better paper qualifications than me but they will still enjoy working with this lesser being and, most importantly, will be learning the sort of stuff that should have been in their courses but wasn't.

I must also thank a colleague at MK College for tipping me off about the fine print about ancient lecturers like me.