Orr, Kevin and Simmons, Robin (2009) Dual identities: enhancing the in-service teacher trainee experience in the lifelong learning sector A guide for employers. Project Report. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield. (Unpublished)

In contrast to the situation in schools, around ninety per cent of teachers in Further Education (FE) colleges are initially employed without a teaching qualification and complete their teacher training on a part-time in-service basis. In many ways this is beneficial — employers gain teachers with up-to-date knowledge and skills, learners benefit from their subject expertise, and many trainee teachers value being able to earn an income while training. However, there are also a number of challenges that derive from this situation, above all the rapid transition to full professional role. This project, funded by ESCalate and the Consortium for Post-Compulsory Education and Training, researched the dual role of employee and learner that trainee FE teachers experience. Data was gathered from trainee teachers, teacher educators and human resources managers to focus on the tensions and benefits this situation presents. The findings indicate that the organisation’s attitude towards teacher training courses and trainees in their workforce are significant in the early development of a teacher’s practice.

FE has traditionally prioritised the vocational or subject expertise of teachers over their pedagogical proficiency. Consequently, there has not been a culture of professional development of teaching in FE. Furthermore, new staff may have to quickly manage heavy workloads at the expense of expanding their approaches to teaching. If coping is given precedence over exploring practice, the pedagogy of FE teaching cannot develop.

Though the absence of a culture of development in FE requires attention, recommendations to organisations about the initial training of teachers must be made cautiously. There is much over which employers and teacher educators have little control, not least the pertaining regulatory regime, and the sector’s diversity requires intervention that is sensitive to local influences. Moreover, any changes risk adding to the already full workload of staff in FE colleges, which may only aggravate the situation. With those caveats in mind, these recommendations are intended to contribute to a culture of pedagogical development in colleges and are offered as suggestions of good practice for employers in the FE sector.

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