IfL closes on 31 October, but its legacy lives on, says Sue Crowley
When I left my last further education college as a teacher educator more than 15 years ago to enter the national FE arena one of my colleagues wrote in my leaving card: “Go make a difference.”
That phrase has been with me ever since. At the time we both knew what he meant. We wanted to see more teachers and trainers – like the outstanding ones we had observed – who were perceptive, innovative and entranced with teaching and learning and committed to getting better at both.
We wanted to see less of those who saw teaching as something they did in a particular set way, separate from learning, both their own and their students’. Making a difference would enable more teachers to shift from the latter to the former.
As my involvement with the FE sector and IfL comes to an end, I have to consider whether a sustainable difference has been made. I believe a shift has occurred. This has come about through the development of the concept of dual professionalism, through IfL’s findings about efficient and effective continuing professional development (CPD) and the
impact of these findings on individuals and their organisations, through the development and implementation of QTLS and through the introduction to the sector of REfLECT.
These have been the significant tools in shifting our understanding of what it means to be a professional in the 21st century and that the practice of professionalism is a collective activity.
The most signifi cant shift came from what our membership told us about CPD that really works for them and has impact on their students learning. Sharing these findings gave the membership the permission, as the expert, to take responsibility for their own professional learning and that of colleagues and to recognise the power of learning as a collective activity. It also gave their organisations new ways to organise CPD and has transformed approaches in many FE institutions.
Many regret the loss of IfL but we are working hard with our partners at the Education and Training Foundation to ensure that further education’s professional legacy lives on. Our stewardship is over and it is time to pass on the torch of professionalism in the hope that it will soon shine more brightly than ever.
Sue Crowley is chair of IfL’s elected governing body and is editor of the book Challenging Professional Learning (Routledge).
Taking on the legacy of IfL is a privilege, says David Russell
Taking on the legacy of IfL is a huge privilege for the Education and Training Foundation. It is also a tremendous opportunity for our profession.
It’s sad to be saying goodbye to an organisation that has proudly carried the torch of professionalism over the past 12 years. But it’s also a perfectly natural development for the Foundation, focused as we are on the same priorities that have always driven IfL: professionalism, status and quality. We exist, quite simply, to support further education and training professionals in this country to be the best they possibly can be.
Answering questions with IfL’s chief executive Jean Kelly as part of last month’s joint webcast for members, what struck me was how important professional status is to members: it underpins your professional identity, informs your career planning and is integral to your eff ectiveness as teachers and trainers.
Also evident was your desire to ensure the new professional body that replaces IfL does not throw the baby out with the bath water by jettisoning the services and resources you have come to know and love. Rest assured, the Foundation shares all your concerns; that’s why we won’t be making any hasty changes. All the great CPD resources will remain and transfer to the Foundation, enhancing the wealth of resources we already host via the Excellence Gateway and Foundation Online Learning.
In addition, I can offer 100 per cent reassurance on two key points: we will keep REfLECT, and QTLS is here to stay. A new QTLS application window opens on 1 December, incidentally.
Under the Foundation’s stewardship, the IfL legacy will not only live on, but develop and expand in exciting and innovative ways. I want individual professional membership of the Foundation to be a rewarding choice that opens doors to exciting and supportive professional development resources and opportunities.
I want QTLS to be a challenging, high-value, high-status professional formation route that practitioners will be proud to achieve. It must be also be relevant to all education professionals, be they college lecturers, work-based learning assessors or adult educators. The Foundation exists for all of us.
Over the months, as we develop our offer, we will consult widely with current, past and prospective members about what you would like the redesigned professional membership service to look like. Please ensure your voice is heard by sending your thoughts and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As IfL members you have shown serious commitment to your own professional development and to the strength and status of the profession. The passing of the torch to the Foundation is the beginning of an exciting and – I hope – extremely rewarding new phase in the development of our marvellous, diverse and vitally important sector. We are here to support you to do what is probably the best job in the world.
David Russell is chief executive of the Education and Training Foundation