Reforms and Initiatives That Have Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Although further education teachers employed prior to this date are not required to attain this credentialing, they are being encouraged to do so in order to ensure their status as professional educators (Clancy 2007).

There is a push to increase the rigor of the credentialing process for further education teachers as well. In this regard, Thompson recently observed that, "Further education lecturers are already allowed to teach post-16 and post-14 pupils in schools in Great Britain. Further education teachers with Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) should first gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) before they will be allowed to teach in schools" (2010:3). This recommendation is based in large part on the fact that the QTLS is "not a test but really a personal narrative that each applicant presents to provide evidence of his/her professional practice and status" (Education: The Training Game 2009:10). The chief executive for the Institute for Learning, Toni Fazaeli, concurs and maintains that students will benefit from the expertise offered by further education teachers with the more rigorous credentials required to attain their QTS (Thompson 2010).

Following the implementation of these requirements and launch of these initiatives, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills published a series of findings and recommendations in its report, "The training of further education teachers," in November 2003 (Further education matters 2005). The report's recommendations were implemented, but the findings of the report included the observation that the current approach to the provision of further education teacher training fails to provide an adequate foundation for new teachers (Further education matters 2005). Specifically, among the other findings published in the Ofsted report were that current methods of further education teacher training did not provide new teachers with sufficient opportunities for learning how to teach their given specialty areas and that the mentoring and support received in the workplace were frequently insufficient for their needs (Further education matters 2005). As Ofsted puts it, "Their needs are not adequately addressed at the start of their courses and the training programmes are therefore not sufficiently tailored to them" (Further education matters 2005, 4).

Indeed, many authorities agree that there is a need to provide student teachers with hands-on teaching opportunities to produce professionalized lecturers for further education colleges and universities. In this regard, Karamustafaoglu reports that, "The most significant objective of pre-service teacher education is to educate qualified teachers. How this quality can be attained seems possible by designing teacher education programs which enable students to acquire skills such as reaching knowledge and solving problems. It is thought that student teachers begin to understand the profession through the practices of teaching. In this way they will be able to improve themselves and reinforce their professional knowledge and skills effectively, and learn how to act accordingly" (2009:172).

Nevertheless, despite having the recommendations in the 2003 report implemented, a number of constraints remained firmly in place involving funding arrangements that were unnecessarily complex that prevented further education colleges from making substantive progress in addressing these problems (Further education matters 2005). The report also cited an "excessively diffuse and complex responsibility for 'quality'" as representing yet another constraint on the improvement of colleges (Further education matters 2005). Other constraints identified by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills include the following:

1. There are too few specialist teachers;

2. Too many vocational tutors lack the skills needed to teach literacy and numeracy;

3. There is too much unsatisfactory teaching;

4. Colleges need support, and funding arrangements need to be clearer and applied more consistently across the country and across settings;

5. Project funding tends to be short-term and inhibits a strategic approach; and,

6. Poor information means that some students in some colleges do not get adequate learning support.

Taken together, the foregoing trends and constraints point to a situation in which many colleges are not being provided with the resources and incentive they need to develop the quality teacher cadre needed to produce learners with the relevant skills and knowledge required to compete in the workplace of the 21st century, an issue that forms the basis for this study as well, the purpose of which is described below.

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study was three-fold:

1. To deliver a comprehensive and critical review of the relevant literature concerning recent and current initiatives intended to support further education in the United Kingdom;

2. To identify a new model for education and training for further education to promote teacher professionalism; and,

3. To identify quality issues that can be used as opportunities for improving further education provision in England in sustainable ways to ensure equality and diversity of access to these resources.

Importance of Study

Clearly, the stakes involved in the provision of high-quality further educational services for all stakeholders are high and the outcomes for the learners, teachers and the British economy are vitally important. According to the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, "When the stakes are high, colleges find ways to improve, and the success of their response to reinspection surely makes the powerful point that responsibility for quality can only be successfully located at local level" (Further education matters 2005:4). The responsibility for quality has been diffused to the point where it is difficult to pinpoint which organization is primarily responsible for this aspect of further education teacher development. According to Ofsted, "The sector as a whole, through the Quality Improvement Strategy, should define what is meant by 'quality' and accept the disciplines associated with clear lines of accountability and sharply defined expectations" (Further education matters 2005:1).

Moreover, the emphasis on improving the skills and qualifications of further education teachers has become inextricably interrelated with the need to help the private sector. For example, Hayes (2004) reports that various ministers have expressed the need for revising further educational curricular offerings to make them more relevant to the current and projected needs of employers in the United Kingdom. In this regard, Hayes (2004) cites the example of Minister John Healey who explained his perspective concerning his role as Adult Skills Minister: "First and foremost it's an economic policy area. it's a question of employability, it's a question of productivity and competitiveness" (quoted at 143). Like some other critics of current further education curricular offerings, Healey maintains they are not meeting the needs of employers and calls for additional changes. As Hayes points out, though, "The danger here is that FE ceases to be further education if it is merely a reaction to the needs and whims of employers. Unfortunately, the views espoused by Healey are not unpopular, even among those who work in colleges" (2004, 144). There are also problems among the general public that make implementation and administration of effective further education initiatives difficult. For instance, Moran and Rumble emphasize that, "Despite the formidable role played by further education, it is the least understood and celebrated part of the learning tapestry. Further education suffers because of prevailing British attitudes" 2004, 6). The foregoing clearly indicate the need for a new model for education and training to promote further education teacher professionalism, an issue that also forms the basis for this study.

Rationale of Study

In recent years, England has placed a very high value on further education. For instance, according to Moran and Rumble, "There remains a very carefully calibrated hierarchy of worthwhile achievement, which has clearly established routes and which privileges academic success well above any other accomplishment" (2004, 6). Consequently, the series of initiatives undertaken in recent years to promote continuing education requires a cadre of professional teachers to ensure their success. By identifying improved approaches to helping new and current further education teachers provide the high quality educational services that learners need in the 21st century workplace, the study stands to contribute in meaningful and important ways to the goals of the further education program.

Overview of Study

This study used a three-chapter format to achieve the above-stated research purpose. Chapter one of the study was used to introduce the topics under consideration, a statement of the problem, the purpose and importance of the study, as well as its scope and rationale. Chapter two provides a critical review of the relevant and peer-reviewed literature, and chapter three presents the study's conclusions, a summary of the research and salient recommendations for educators and policymakers in England and the United Kingdom.

Chapter 2: Review of the Literature

Chapter Introduction

The chapter provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed, scholarly and popular literature to develop a background and overview of the issues under consideration, followed by a discussion concerning the current status of training programs for further education teachers. An analysis of the various strategies that have been advanced in recent years in an effort to improve excellence and professionalism in further education colleges is followed by a brief recapitulation of the research in the chapter summary.

Background and Overview…

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