Speaking to delegates at the NATFHE national conference in Blackpool, Malcolm Wicks said: 'We are now taking measures to even things up between schools and further education. For a pilot year from September 2000, we shall be extending the policy of providing post graduate certificate of education training salaries of£150 a week to trainee teachers taking a pre-service PGCE(FE) in England.
'We also intend that time spent in FE colleges will count towards the statutory induction period for those with qualified teacher status. As many of you will know, the Learning and Skills Bill contains powers to do this and should gain Royal Assent in the summer. We hope to put our proposals out for consultation in a few weeks, which will allow us to put regulations in place quickly.
'We are aiming for high standards in colleges and these need to be matched by high standards of professionalism amongst staff. Nothing is more important to the learner than the standard of teaching and support they receive.
September on the way ahead.
'Running in parallel has been the development of FENTO management standards for further education managers, which will form the basis of future qualifications and training to help produce a fully trained workforce in FE. We are also looking at options for the development of a national qualification in principalship to be obtained prior to the appointment of all those wishing to become principals.
'Later this year DfEE will be consulting all FE college principals on a qualification, designed to help future principals gain the skills to make them the leaders FE deserves and needs. The consultation will also address the needs of existing principals and meeting these through the provision of a menu of high quality, well structured, professional development opportunities.
'We have provided substantial extra resources for further education. I believe that the large investment we are making in FE should therefore allow most colleges leeway to provide better pay for their staff. The days of macho management are over. There is absolutely no need for colleges to be denying pay increases to staff given the size of the investment we are now making.
'Our investment in FE started to show through during the last financial year - with an increase of£255m. There is more coming through in this new financial year - a further increase of£215m. And the largest tranche of all -£365m - will come through from next April. These increases will take FE funding from£3.1bn in
1998-99 to£3.9bn in 2001-02.
'So there are timing issues in terms of tackling pay issues. I also strongly believe that staff should be paid on their merits. In all walks of life it is now recognised that we need to reward best those who show true commitment and excellent performance. I therefore endorse NATFHE's view that colleges should find ways of rewarding the excellent teacher who wants to stay in teaching, not just those who
wish to progress through the management route. FE colleges could establish schemes on the lines we have introduced in schools for advanced skills teachers?
'I was heartened to receive the announcement in December from employers' and union representatives that a joint forum has been set up to develop a coherent pay strategy for further education. I am sure that this is the way ahead and we will do everything we can to encourage this process.
'The road to building a lifelong learning society will be a long and arduous one but no destination could be more worthwhile. I welcome NATFHE's company on the journey. It is helping the FE sector to be and to stay healthy. Long may that continue.'
Malcolm Wicks spoke to the Annual National Conference of the National Association for Teachers in Further and Higher Education in Blackpool on Saturday 27th May 2000.