Teachers versus lecturers
Let’s start with a positive... sort of. Every teacher who moves from secondary to FE breathes an immediate sigh of relief as the burden of marking, administration and record keeping is suddenly and dramatically lightened. In fact, teaching staff in colleges are frequently referred to as “lecturers,” rather than “teachers.” My own quality of life certainly improved. I was able to spend Sundays and weekday evenings with my family – something I only really experienced during the holidays whilst in secondary school.
Another crucial difference is that personal responsibility is thrust directly onto the students. There is no break duty, no form time, no equipment and uniform checks. All these small, extra responsibilities that eat into a teacher’s time vanished when I arrived in FE, and it was suddenly possible to make a cup of coffee between lessons, and drink it while it was still hot. In fact (and this may seem fantastical to teachers in school), it is even possible to leave the building, nip down to costa, and buy a drink!
The image that I have created is no doubt an appealing one, but of course, it is not so simple. Days are longer in most colleges (9 to 5), there are fewer holidays (more on that strange setup another time), and the pay is often significantly lower, for “lecturers,” at least (again, more on this in the future).
There is one more downside to the “lecturer” approach, and it’s a big one, mainly for the students. They are not really adults yet. They often drop out of compulsory subjects like maths and English, and when they do, they are not always chased up about it. Many college lecturers do not see it as part of their job to contact parents, and shabby attendance and effort can sometimes be left unchallenged until it is too late. Many staff, of course, are conscientious, and do their best, but are failed by the absence of rigorous, consistent college policies. There is a reason for the absence of such policies, and I will come to that in my next post.