The history of IfL

The history of IfL

IfL was created in 2002 after years of discussion and debate among FE and skills teachers and trainers who wanted a professional body that served their needs. 

A brief history of IfL


  • IfL is created by teachers, unions and employer bodies, and incorporated in January 2002 as the independent and practitioner-led professional membership body, with voluntary membership for teachers, trainers and assessors. The creation of such a body has been the subject of debate among learning practitioners for some 20 years, and had begun to feature in journal articles, conference speeches and research papers.
  • By the end of its first year, IfL has 266 voluntary members.


  • Consultation begins on the initial teacher training reform agenda arising from Success for All (PDF, 220 KB), published by the government in 2002, with the aim of establishing whether or not IfL should be the preferred professional body to carry out registration and other expectations for new teachers.


  • Equipping our Teachers for the Future (PDF, 245 KB), a policy document published by the Department for Education, influences IfL’s prospects of taking on a regulatory function in addition to its existing role as a professional body.


  • Following the publication of the Foster review, the case is made by many across the sector, including IfL, for professional body membership to be extended to all teachers and trainers, not just new entrants from September 2007.


  • Following extensive consultation, the FE white paper, extends the reach of the reform agenda. IfL informs the development of the government’s regulations and the funding body’s contractual obligations for a registered teaching workforce.


  • IfL’s transitional council is replaced by an elected council at the AGM in April and Sue Crowley becomes the first chair of IfL in its new member-governed state.
  • Regulations covering registration with IfL and continuing professional development (CPD) requirements and qualifications are approved by parliament in July.
  • The first registered IfL members following the regulations begin joining at midnight on 31 August 2007.


  • Between September 2007 and March 2008, IfL handles 125,000 online registrations.
  • In April, IfL launches its flagship REfLECT personalised learning space for members and confirms the sector’s first Code of Professional Practice, following wide consultation.
  • IfL’s first chief executive, Toni Fazaeli, is appointed in June.


  • At IfL's AGM, special resolutions are passed to implement a new governance structure ensuring greater member representation.
  • In July, IfL awards QTLS and ATLS status to the first group of teachers and trainers in the sector to complete the professional formation process with the minister giving out these awards at a national ceremony.
  • In November, the government publishes Skills for Growth (PDF, 2.8 MB) and announces that IfL must become self-financing within five years.
  • IfL initiates discussions with partner organisations and government departments to support parity of QTLS and QTS in schools.
  • IfL membership reaches 200,000.


  • IfL’s new advisory council of 45 member and 15 stakeholder representatives holds its first meeting.
  • The government’s select committee report on initial teacher training heeds IfL’s evidence and recommends that teachers with QTLS should be able to teach in school settings.
  • The Skills Commission’s independent inquiry into teacher training for vocational teachers also recommends parity between QTLS and QTS.
  • John Chorley FIfL is elected as IfL’s first president.
  • IfL starts to call for an independent inquiry into world-class teaching and training in FE and skills.
  • Over 5,000 teachers and trainers respond to IfL’s call for views on vocational education for the Wolf review.
  • The government confirms that teachers and trainers will be required to pay their own IfL subscriptions.


  • IfL announces changes to its membership funding arrangements, as part of its transition to being self-financed. Membership fee levels are revised, following discussions with trade unions and employers, facilitated by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).
  • Following the publication of the Wolf review, the government accepts the recommendation that teachers with QTLS should be able to teach in schools as qualified teachers.
  • IfL announces its first four patrons: Baroness Sharp, Barry Sheerman MP, Lord Boswell and Stella Mbubaegbu CBE.
  • Later in the year, IfL announces two more patrons: educationalists Professor Ann Hodgson and Geoff Petty.
  • Beatrix Groves is elected as IfL’s second president.
  • The government publishes New challenges, new chances (PDF, 3.7 MB), which calls for IfL and the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) to undertake preparatory work for an independent commission on adult vocational pedagogy.
  • IfL expresses its concerns about proposed teacher training reforms and the implications of higher and further education funding changes for initial teacher training (ITT) in the FE and skills sector.


  • An independent review of professionalism in the FE and skills sector begins, chaired by Lord Lingfield.
  • Following the interim report of the Lingfield review, published in March, IfL confirms that it will return to its roots and again operate as a voluntary, professional membership organisation.
  • Frank McLoughlin CBE, principal of City and Islington College, is announced as chair of the independent Commission on Adult Vocational Learning (CAVTL) and the work of the commission commences, supported by IfL and LSIS.
  • From 1 April 2012, IfL members with QTLS status are recognised in law as qualified to teach in schools on equal pay and conditions.
  • IfL’s response to the government’s consultation on revoking the 2007 regulations, following the Lingfield review, is informed by the views of more than 5,300 members. The government announces that the existing requirement for teachers and trainers in the sector to have teaching qualifications, as provided for in the 2007 regulations, will be retained for the time being.
  • The remaining 2007 regulations are revoked. IfL members are given the option to resign membership for the remainder of the year: 98 per cent choose to stay in membership.
    The government announces that plans for an FE guild will go ahead. IfL is a key partner in the proposal led by the Association of Colleges and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers to run the new guild.
  • Beatrix Groves is elected IfL president for a second term.


  • Baroness Helena Kennedy QC becomes IfL's seventh patron.  
  • IfL celebrates the valuable contribution made by tutors and trainers in its first tutor celebration event, held as part of Adult Learners' Week 2013.
  • Government regulations requiring all teachers in FE and skills to obtain a teaching qualification are revoked. IfL leads a campaign to protect initial teacher training, affirming that all learners deserve to be taught by qualified teachers, regarless of whether they are studying in further education or a school.
  • Penny Petch is elected as IfL's third president.


  • Following the retirement of IfL, chief executive, Toni Fazaeli in March, Dr Jean Kelly, formerly Director of Professional Development, becomes IfL's second chief executive.
  • The Education and Training Foundation publishes new professional standards for teachers and trainers in further education and skills, which have been developed with input from IfL members.
  • The first ever VQ Newly Qualified Further Education Teacher of the Year award, sponsored by IfL, was presented to Katy Graham at the VQ Day awards ceremony hosted by the Edge Foundation in London on 3 June 2014.
  • Robert Balmer, an operations training warrant officer with the 1st Regiment Royal Military Police (RMP) in the British Army, won a Transforming Lives Award supported by IfL.
  • On 1 July the non-executive board of the Institute for Learning announced its recommendation that IfL should close and that its legacy and assets should be passed to the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) through a deed of gift.
  • This decision was subject to ratification by IfL’s elected Advisory Council, who voted in favour of the board's recommendations on 17 July 2014.
  • IfL remained open and continued to operate as a professional body until the transfer of its legacy was complete on 31 October 2014.

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