Lecturer Professionalism in Practice - what does it mean to you?

At the EIS Professional Learning Conference 2020, EIS-FELA members had access to a series of specialist seminars and workshops led by EIS-FELA President Pam Currie and EIS National Officer Anne Keenan.

This event provided a welcome opportunity to look in depth at the importance of teacher and lecturer empowerment.  With the advent of College Lecturer Professional Registration, the professional status of college lecturers is being formally recognised for the first time in Scotland. 

Lecturers from across the country gathered to discuss what empowerment means for them, the impact of registration and how they can take ownership of decisions around professional learning and development to enhance learning and teaching.

The day started with an active session, exploring what professionalism means for lecturers in the college sector.  It wasn’t long before participants were in full flow, identifying the core values of professionalism and unleashing their inner creativity as they designed lecturers of the future. 

The end products, in their own innovative styles, emphasised common core values – a commitment to the delivery of lifelong learning, underpinned by reflective practice and professional development, putting the student at the centre, being responsive to needs and promoting diversity and equality of opportunity for all.  It is no surprise that the designs captured the superhero qualities of the role!

Building on these core values, members then explored the synergy with the Professional Standards for College Lecturers and their role in supporting continuous professional development in the sector. 

It was clear that whilst members of the group know what the new standards are and could identify the close connection with their professional values, they was little evidence of the standards being used in practice to plan the development of professional learning.  

With the standards underpinning the delivering of teaching and learning, the consensus was that there is still some way to go in embedding them in professional dialogue in the context of PRDs in colleges.

The final session of the morning was led by representatives of EIS-FELA, Colleges Scotland and GTCS. Participants looked at how professional registration with the GTCS will help to cement a culture of lecturer professionalism and ongoing professional development which can deliver high-quality learning experiences and outcomes for students.

Discussion focused on the work of the College Lecturer Registration Working Group and the progress being made to move the sector closer to registration, as well as the challenges encountered along the way. 

Members raised vital questions over relevant teaching qualifications, being registered with another regulatory body, and arrangements for lecturers who are already on the register as a qualified teacher. Posing these questions, EIS-FELA members communicated to sector partners the need to deliver registration which respects the distinct identity of the college sector.

Registration for college lecturers must ensure that the professionalism of lecturers is recognised and developed through the integration of professional standards, professional review and development and ongoing professional learning.

The overarching conclusions of the group were clear - college lecturers play a pivotal role in our education system through widening access and in addressing the poverty and socio-economic barriers which exist in our communities.

For many, college education is the gateway to accessing employment or progressing to higher education.  Those students deserve to be taught by skilled, qualified, empowered professionals – and college lecturers deserve recognition and to have their voices heard in taking ownership of their professional development and practice.