United Kingdom - Lingfield Report

The fragility of professionalism in the de-regulated environment

Dr. Lesley Doyle, School of Education, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom (Research Network 3)

In October 2012, Lord Lingfield, an advocate of school autonomy (ie from local control) presented his final report Professionalism in Further Education in the UK[1]. Commissioned by the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong, Lingfield led a four-person independent review panel. Two of the other three members run private training companies. It is difficult not to see the Lingfield report as disingenuous for in spite of its stated support for a professional workforce in FE it recommended that power over professional standards be placed in the hands of employers and Ofsted[2], the inspection agency, which would ensure that training and continuing professional development is adequate.

The report, and the adoption of its main recommendations by the UK Government, heralds a sea-change in professionalism in further education. It comes after several years of criticism, from both the profession and training providers, of the complicated array of qualifications and the failure of further education (FE) providers to support the continued professional development of FE teachers. The role of the Institute for Learning (IfL), set up as a professional body to oversee the qualifications, has added a further twist because controversially it was accused of supporting employers rather than promoting professionalism. In responding to demands from the profession through its union, the University and College Union (UCU) to remove compulsory registration with the body, Lingfield also recommended de-regulation of the profession so that ‘it will be up to employers to decide what is appropriate for their staff and organisation’[3]. A new body, the Education and Training Foundation[4], a private limited company funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has been established to provide an overarching organisation for employers and professionals but there is at best scepticism from the latter who see the body as part of the Government’s willingness to de-regulate the teaching profession in order to allow its flagship ‘free schools’, established through state funding, to employ teachers without qualified teacher status. Lingfield has been accused of ignoring ‘most of the positive evidence about improvements in professionalism since 2005 (including many more trained teachers; growing confidence and capability from teachers; improving mentoring; and promotion of a more expansive professionalism)”[5]. Hillier and Appleby (2012)[6] note that BIS[7] itself reported that initial teacher training was having an impact, with good progress towards ‘ensuring a qualified and expert teaching profession’, and that some teachers were not being supported in their professional development by their employers. They also write about the fragility of under-resourced professional networks created by staff. It is difficult to see how the latest developments will address these deficiencies, particularly given two other recent and pivotal reports on vocational education and training for young people and adults[8]that make further demands on the professionalism of staff in FE.


[1] Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) (2012), Professionalism in Further Education in the UK URN 12/1198, London: BIS www.bis.gov.uk NB In effect, the report relates primarily to England. It also significantly affects adult education because the further education colleges are key providers.

[2] Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills is the non-ministerial government department of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools In England.

[3] LSIS (learning and Skills Improvement Agency) (2013)

Teaching and Training Qualifications for the Further Education and Skills Sector in England (2013) Guidance for employers and practitioners March www2.warwick.ac.uk/study/cll/othercourses/teachertraining/stage2/guidance-for-employers-and-practitioners-2013-april1.pdf

[5] Lingfield: the future of professionalism in FE (2012) Adults Learning (Winter Edition) NIACE, Leicester

[6] Hillier, Y. and Appleby, Y. (2012) Supporting professionalism: see-saw politics and the paradox of deregulationAdults Learning (Winter Edition) NIACE, Leicester

[7] Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2012) Evaluation of FE Teachers’ Qualifications (England) Regulations 2007, BIS Research Paper Number 66, March

[8] Wolf, A. (2011) Review of Vocational Education: the Wolf Report . London: Department for Education (www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-vocational-education-the-wolf-report) and LSIS (2013) It’s about Work: excellent adult teaching and learning Summary report of the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning, London: BIS repository.excellencegateway.org.uk/fedora/objects/eg:5937/datastreams/DOC/content


Dr. Lesley Doyle, School of Education, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

Lesley Doyle is a lecturer in Education at the University of Glasgow, and experienced in education transitions (including of young adults), pre-vocational and VET research and evaluation. She is Deputy Director of the European Centre of the PASCAL Observatory on Place Management, Social Capital and Lifelong Learning. She s Research Advisor for the PASCAL Universities for a Modern Renaissance (PUMR) project which works with universities to enhance their collaboration with external partners from business, industry, civil and voluntary services and the community. Her research has included: projects that develop learning audits (Lilara), evaluations of Vocational Education & Training Programmes, a comparative study of VET and career pathways in English, Scottish and American schools and co-investigator on a study of universities and regional engagement (PURE) in 19 regions around the world. She is trained as a teacher both at school and vocational college level, and contributions to various teacher training programs.