While Michael Gove gains an unenviable reputation as a meddler in the world of compulsory education, his attitude to the further education sector seems to be ambivalent, to say the least. How else to explain both his failure to visit an FE college since taking office and also his willingness to allow a closed-shop to flourish in the form of the Institute for Learning (IfL)?
Having managed to avoid the ‘bonfire of the quangos’ – a fate that befell its sister organisation the General Teaching Council (GTC) - the IfL has now announced that its - generally reluctant – associates, members and fellows, who rejoice in the acronyms AIFL, MIFL and FIFL, will have to stump up £68.00 for the dubious privilege of belonging to an organisation that is, for many, a prerequisite to continued employment in the sector.
The imposition of this levy comes at a very bad time in FE, with colleges and other providers fearing deep cuts to funding with the inevitable loss of courses and jobs. Yet the IfL, which is highly adept at portraying itself as being essential for the career and professional development of teachers and trainers, feels it is justified in becoming self-funding on the less than auspicious date of April 1 this year. In reality, the move was forced on it as the government has announced it is no longer going to pick up the tab of paying the full cost of all subscriptions, as has been the case since the IfL was formed in 2006.
Needless to say, the lecturers and their union, the UCU, are far from pleased. The UCU is canvassing support for a boycott of the IfL, with the result that AIFLs, MIFLs and FIFLs now questioning whether they need the IfL could refuse to stump up £68.00 to belong to an organisation whose much vaunted, and largely self-publicised, benefits and services mainly consist of a pointless online database on which they have to record the endless round of meetings and training events that represent the necessary number of continuous professional development (CPD) hours they have to undertake each year as a pre-condition of retaining their professional status.