Higher education classroom

New guidelines for managers in Further Education hope to improve working practices and stop high staff turnover.

14 October 2022

3 min

New guidelines for managers in Further Education hope to improve working practices and stop high staff turnover. 

A five-year research project by the University of Portsmouth examined the problems facing management in the Further Education sector and identified solutions to these challenges.  

The result has been the development of four sets of Professional Standards, just published by the Education and Training Foundation.

Together, these standards provide a staged approach to the expectations of leadership, at each step of the journey from aspiring middle leader to Principal or CEO. 

Up until now, the further education sector has not provided managers with clear expectations or the same level of support that it has its teachers.  When you consider the huge amount of effort invested into training and enabling of teachers, letting them flounder when they decide to progress into management doesn’t make sense. The system is setting leaders up to fail and many are opting to leave the sector altogether.

Lead researcher, Dr Stephen Corbett, Head of the School of Education, Languages and Linguistics in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Portsmouth said: “For too long managers have struggled in jobs they weren’t fully trained to do.  

“Consider the journey of becoming a teacher. The further education sector sets out a framework of professional standards, which in turn informs teacher education courses reinforced with continual professional development programmes.

“This is not to suggest that teachers do not have significant pressures in assuming their roles. It is more to highlight that in comparison, there are no such standards for managers, no sector-specific qualifications and a limited number of tailored professional development programmes.”

This research began in 2017, when Dr Corbett identified four pillars of professional expectations for further education managers including; the ability to lead and foster team working relationships, a focus and drive to ensure students are successful, resilience and the ability to respond to change, and a good understanding of and commitment to the sector.

The newly developed professional standard has an accompanying Training Needs Analysis that can be used by managers and leaders to reflect on their current repertoire of knowledge and skills, providing an individualised feedback report to help them to identify and prioritise their training and development needs.

Dr Corbett said: “While this may not solve all of the challenges faced by Further Education sector managers, it feels like a step in a positive direction of clarity of expectations and the provision of meaningful support.”

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