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Democratic prefessionalism "v" Institute for Learning

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by Institutionalised, May 31, 2011.

  1. I've posted something similar to this in response to last week's FE Focus Editorial, but maybe this is a better place to get some thoughts from colleagues.
    Given UCU Congress backed an amendment to one of the anti IfL motions suggesting a reform slate at upcoming IfL elections as part of the sector's strategy to oppose IfL's untransparent, anti-democratic & managerialist ethos, what might an IfL reform manifesto advocate? I’d tentatively suggest the following 10 issues need addressing to start with:
    (1) An immediate vote for all members on whether IfL itself should lobby govt for repeal of compulsory membership;
    (2) direct elections by membership of IfL Chair & President;
    (3) radical overhaul of IfL governance to ensure direct democratic accountability i.e. scrap Advisory Council / Non Exec Board & establish directly elected National Executive Committee;
    (4) removal of voting rights for all non-elected IfL National Executive Committee members i.e. if UCU, Unison, ATL, AoC seats retained should be as observers only;
    (5) immediate review of finance including IfL salaries & cost of London based operations;
    (6) suspension of current failed managerial system of CPD logging, & establishment (via member engagement) of genuinely developmental CPD policy;
    (7) urgent review of IfL’s equality policies & procedures given demonstrable failures in this area re LGBT, BME, Disability, Women, Part time / Agency lecturers;
    (8) undertake meaningful dialogue with members via trade unions, elected reps, social media etc about future professional body’s priorities;
    (9) articulate a new member led vision for the body reflecting current “democratic professionalism” debate;
    (10) should IfL prove to be viable / enjoy sufficient sector support to have longevity, directly elect fixed term CEO via members.
     
  2. Your suggestions make a lot of sence but the first thing we have to do - before we even think of reform - is go right back to the beginning and investigate whether there is actually any real 'need' for a compulsory regulatory professional body such as IFL in the first place.
    I understand the need for compulsory regulatory professional bodies representing Doctors, Dentists, Chemists, Herbalists, Nurses, Midwives, Lawyers, Accountants, Taxi Drivers, Plumbers and Electricians.
    Before compulsory regulatory bodies for any of the above; quacks, fraudsers, charlatans and rogue operators were free to wreak havoc, which they did, among the public and cause untold suffering. So the Government stepped in and used the power of the law to put an end to their malpractice, quite rightly so. That's the justification for their existance.
    Teachers in the FE sector are subject to a regulatory bodiy already in the form of OFSTED, professional conduct and CPD are contractually binding, so what's the justification for the IFL's existance? Is it for the protection of the public ? What evidence is there for the existance of all these rogues, charlatans, quacks and frauds in the Further Education sector and what evidence for victims? I am truely at a loss!
     
  3. OK terryclarke, thanks for your input. I entirely appreciate your position on this re quacks, fraudsers, charlatans and rogue operators, BUT - I suspect the horse has bolted. As a sector we did not spot the dangerous possibilities of the IfL. It could always have become a sectoral silk purse, or a hated pig's ear - it is despised I think (or until fee imposition regared as irritating irrelevency), at least that is what my colleagues locally tell me. But where do we go from here?
     
  4. @bangthdrum - very interesting idea, if I'm understanding your proposal correctly. Is the long term idea / implication to set up an alternative professional body to IfL? Would that still require some legislative changes i.e. membership of a professional body would still be mandatory but there would be a choice?
    I wonder if this is a taller order than the other options though, which are defacto abolition via mass non-payment, or democratic reform via entryist strategy / slate at IfL elections.
     
  5. Damn, got to go to work and can't give this the full response I'd like to but the PCG model worked. OK stakes were higher, but there was actually less principle at stake.
    Mixedmyth, you're assuming that the "new IfL" carries on behaving in exactly the same way as the existing one, pretending that QTLS is worth having and therefore needs expenditure to perpetuate it and that the pointless and ineffectual CPD police function continues. Both of these are a waste of time and money and would immediately be abolished. CPD is already policed by some employers. The IfL may check your CPD once every 333 years. Gosh!
    As for membership numbers, that remains to be seen. But as for stumping up money, isn't that exactly what we're doing now, asking what we get for it? Admittedly seeing through a legal challenge requires nerve, but if mandatory membership were illegal under ECHR law, wouldn't you want to do something about it?
     
  6. @institutionalised. The existing IfL may survive in a reformed state. The aim is to challenge mandatpry membership under ECHR law. Membership should be optional. The first three provisions of the 2007 regs are adequate. A requirement for CPD to be policed by employers is all that is needed. My employer has already written it into its contracts.

    The suggestion of legal action is the "due process" option to take. It accumulates gravitas and respect.
    Civil disobedience is another option. The two could work in parallel, but any new body could not be seen to condone breaking the law.

    The short term aim of the body is to remove the mandatory, statutory requirement. The existing IfL would then need to respond to membership and regroup/reform as necessary. If it didn't, it would die and the new body would move forward...

    That's the theory.

    Must go to work...
     
  7. @bangthedrum. I have an anxiety about our employers "policing" our CPD. Post incorporation saw increasing deprofessionalisation in colleges and by 1996 a quarter of full time lecturers had left the sector via redundancy or disillusionment with the new management culture. A FEFC Inspectorate Survey in 1996 found that the average spend by colleges on CPD was only 1%, and in a UCU / IfL survey in 1997 many members reported that the CPD they were offered was irrelevant to their needs (with mass programmes put on by management the least relevant), and 47% of lecturers reported that their employer’s CPD policy was either not at all or hardly at all effective at matching staff needs with either internal or external professional development opportunities.
    This is why a professional body with a specific CPD remit was welcomed by trade unions - of course what we got was the managerial IfL & its completely non-developmental CPD logging strategy - they seem to think they can fatten FE pigs by just weighing us, whilst milking us via an indirect tax on our dwindling salaries as we moo our appreciation and defecate out an annual CPD declaration. Excure mixed animal metaphors - IfL puts me in mind of Animal Farm.
     
  8. I have an anxiety about our employers "policing" our CPD. Post incorporation saw increasing deprofessionalisation in colleges and by 1996 a quarter of full time lecturers had left the sector via redundancy or disillusionment with the new management culture.

    I share institutionalised's concerns about employers policing our CPD. It's interesting that many college managements seem to regard the IfL as a waste of time too. Why I wonder? Partly I imagine that they don't want to get drawn into a debate over who pays (and certainly don't want to pay!). But also they recognize that an independent 'professional' body that offers a broadly accepted definition of CPD potentially limits their control of our practice / 'professionalism'. In our college, the contract refers explicitly to the IfL definition of CPD. Negotiators were keen to have this in contract precisely because it offers scope for 'professional' control. On those grounds I'm not entirely in agreement with those who want to see the end of the IfL, and see some of the argument against the IfL as short-term and self-defeating. But I'm aware that I'm usually in a minority of one when I debate this with colleagues!

    I do think we do need to focus our arguments. I agree with the view that a prof. body is not a trade union and therefore the relationship with its members is different. A prof. body is rightly accountable to the public who make use of our 'services' too. This does not mean that we shouldn't increase the democratic element. I would certainly want to see the CEO an elected position. This is because the CEO is the 'face' of the organisation. I have no problem with people being appointed to work for the organisation, and would welcome a serious lead on CPD - someone with a track record in both research and practical CPD. A more robust representative national body would also be of benefit. The view seems to be that the Adv.Council is a rather ineffectual add-on. I have no problem with co-opted members, though am quesy about employers being directly represented. How do other prof. bodies deal with this one?

    One of the difficulties we have is that many FE teachers do not link their evident interest in professional development / learning with 'abstract' debates on 'professional' organisations etc. I think this is unfortunate because important issues are being played out here - including who defines / controls 'professionalism'. I wonder whether there is a bit of bloody mindedness around too - 68 quid!! what a lot of b*ll*cks!! CPD - what's that?? In my view, engagement in CPD is a no-brainer for educators, but so is control, autonomy, shared development etc. But I also recognize that accountability is important. A crucial issue is how we reconcile autonomy with accountability, and how a 'professional' body can help / hinder that process.

    The biggest problem of course is that really teachers are not professionals but employees. Teachers do not exercise job control or regulate entry to the 'profession'. the word is used very loosely - usually to denote a compliant, pro-managerial[ist] disposition - no tools guv? Nay worri, I'm a professional!! it's a moot point about whether we should aspire to be professionals in any case, as opposed to education workers or practitioners. this is something the debate hasn't really touched on.

    of course, a body that seeks to represent the entire 'profession' can't help but be deeply contradictory. the gap between college senior managers and the maingrade grunts has never been wider. There is a real threat to public education from private trainers. yet the IfL seems to think it can be the voice of all these different interests. this is one reason it is such a useless campaigning body - campaigning against the privatisation of public ed would put it in conflict with the private providers; ... against job losses and worsening conditions ... in conflict with employers; ... anything ... in conflict with the government. i don't look to the IfL to be a campaigning body. it's ideology is at best an enlightened kind of corporatism - tho' its leaders fuzaeli and co probably see themselves as simply enlightened! Fuzaeli and co are simply unable to engage with these issues.

    in brief then, i want the IfL to focus on a very specific issue - CPD. i don't see how this justifies an annual fee of 68 or even £34 - but I think it's strategically in my interests to have a body external to my college which 'regulates' my CPD. But because the IfL is at rock bottom in terms of credibility with its members, Fuzaeli and her deputy should resign. At th same time, teachers need to engage in a more thoughtful and strategic debate about the IfL, recognizing its usefulness as well as its huge limitations. This doesn't mean simply accepting a cut price £34 a piece IfL but we do need to start a debate around issues of control, autonomy, accountability ... and why not? how to transform teachers opposition to the IfL fees hike into an active struggle to promote a democratic 'professionalism'.
     
  9. 'I have an anxiety about our employers "policing" our CPD. Post incorporation saw increasing deprofessionalisation in colleges and by 1996 a quarter of full time lecturers had left the sector via redundancy or disillusionment with the new management culture.

    I share institutionalised's concerns about employers policing our CPD. It's interesting that many college managements seem to regard the IfL as a waste of time too. Why I wonder? Partly I imagine that they don't want to get drawn into a debate over who pays (and certainly don't want to pay!). But also they recognize that an independent 'professional' body that offers a broadly accepted definition of CPD potentially limits their control of our practice / 'professionalism'. In our college, the contract refers explicitly to the IfL definition of CPD. Negotiators were keen to have this in contract precisely because it offers scope for 'professional' control. On those grounds I'm not entirely in agreement with those who want to see the end of the IfL, and see some of the argument against the IfL as short-term and self-defeating. But I'm aware that I'm usually in a minority of one when I debate this with colleagues!

    I do think we do need to focus our arguments. I agree with the view that a prof. body is not a trade union and therefore the relationship with its members is different. A prof. body is rightly accountable to the public who make use of our 'services' too. This does not mean that we shouldn't increase the democratic element. I would certainly want to see the CEO an elected position. This is because the CEO is the 'face' of the organisation. I have no problem with people being appointed to work for the organisation, and would welcome a serious lead on CPD - someone with a track record in both research and practical CPD. A more robust representative national body would also be of benefit. The view seems to be that the Adv.Council is a rather ineffectual add-on. I have no problem with co-opted members, though am quesy about employers being directly represented. How do other prof. bodies deal with this one?

    One of the difficulties we have is that many FE teachers do not link their evident interest in professional development / learning with 'abstract' debates on 'professional' organisations etc. I think this is unfortunate because important issues are being played out here - including who defines / controls 'professionalism'. I wonder whether there is a bit of bloody mindedness around too - 68 quid!! what a lot of b*ll*cks!! CPD - what's that?? In my view, engagement in CPD is a no-brainer for educators, but so is control, autonomy, shared development etc. But I also recognize that accountability is important. A crucial issue is how we reconcile autonomy with accountability, and how a 'professional' body can help / hinder that process.

    The biggest problem of course is that really teachers are not professionals but employees. Teachers do not exercise job control or regulate entry to the 'profession'. the word is used very loosely - usually to denote a compliant, pro-managerial[ist] disposition - no tools guv? Nay worri, I'm a professional!! it's a moot point about whether we should aspire to be professionals in any case, as opposed to education workers or practitioners. this is something the debate hasn't really touched on.

    of course, a body that seeks to represent the entire 'profession' can't help but be deeply contradictory. the gap between college senior managers and the maingrade grunts has never been wider. There is a real threat to public education from private trainers. yet the IfL seems to think it can be the voice of all these different interests. this is one reason it is such a useless campaigning body - campaigning against the privatisation of public ed would put it in conflict with the private providers; ... against job losses and worsening conditions ... in conflict with employers; ... anything ... in conflict with the government. i don't look to the IfL to be a campaigning body. it's ideology is at best an enlightened kind of corporatism - tho' its leaders fuzaeli and co probably see themselves as simply enlightened! Fuzaeli and co are simply unable to engage with these issues.

    in brief then, i want the IfL to focus on a very specific issue - CPD. i don't see how this justifies an annual fee of 68 or even £34 - but I think it's strategically in my interests to have a body external to my college which 'regulates' my CPD. But because the IfL is at rock bottom in terms of credibility with its members, Fuzaeli and her deputy should resign. At th same time, teachers need to engage in a more thoughtful and strategic debate about the IfL, recognizing its usefulness as well as its huge limitations. This doesn't mean simply accepting a cut price £34 a piece IfL but we do need to start a debate around issues of control, autonomy, accountability ... and why not? how to transform teachers opposition to the IfL fees hike into an active struggle to promote a democratic 'professionalism'.
     
  10. @institutionalised and 1961JohnLG

    OK, perhaps "policed by employers" is too strong a term. I'm not talking about employers providing CPD opportunities, or defining what it is, or telling us to do certain courses, just acknowledging that it has taken place, which is all the ifL really does anyway. So we need a body to define the concept and the need for CPD, or indeed anything that should rightly govern the way we practice. A code of conduct is necessary,and should be binding on members and non-members (of the body) alike and any breaches should be held accountable by the body. If non-members don't like what the body does, they have the option to join and have their voices heard. That should be the incentive for involvement that mixedmyth seemed to think would be lacking, unless we can find a way of paying members of the prof body more than non-members (not paying non-members less than members which is always a danger).

    As for the IfL focusing on CPD, if they did any more than they already do the membership fee would go exponential. As far as I'm concerned, they've succeeded in weaving it into the fabric of what we have to do, but that's where their involvement should end. As it is they hassle you if you don't give them a number of hours completed, but they check it on average only once every 333 years or thereabouts. Might as well let the employer do that.
     
  11. <font face="Times New Roman">@1961JohnG: The institutional control of CPD is a big issue: the points you make 1961JohnG about &ldquo;control, autonomy, shared development&rdquo; are critical. I also totally endorse your view that &ldquo;it's strategically in my interests to have a body external to my college which 'regulates' my CPD.&rdquo; I&rsquo;m also sympathetic to view that because &ldquo;IfL is at rock bottom in terms of credibility with its members, Fuzaeli and her deputy should resign,&rdquo; but I wonder if we should first turn our fire on elected (OK with zero democratic legitimacy) Chair & President?</font> <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">Entirely agree that we need to &ldquo;engage in a more thoughtful and strategic debate about the IfL, recognizing its usefulness as well as its huge limitations.&rdquo; Although as things stand IfL is a pig&rsquo;s ear &ndash; it could be of value, maybe&hellip;</font>
     
  12. Actually 1961JohnG you are probably right - wholesale resignations within IfL required.
     

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