How things change!  In August last year I responded to the question "Do I need a PTLLS qualification?".  That question has never been more topical than it is currently.

Have you read the Interim Report established by the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, "Professionalism in Further Education", March 2012?  You should if you are a training/teaching professional in the Lifelong Learning Sector.  It certainly isn't evolutionary; more like a ticking bomb of the revolution!  Basically it states the 2007 Regulations and everything that has occurred as a consequence of those Regulations since 2007 has been a failure.  The suite of qualifications: PTLLS, CTLLS and DTLLS, the licenses to practice, ATLS and QTLS, compulsory membership of IfL, compulsory CPD, and so on!

I agree, there are areas that required improvement, especially to better reflect the whole of the sector rather than focusing primarily on FE Colleges.  I believe that the qualifications suite was greatly improved by the recent revisions that incorporate the competency qualifications as an alternative route, i.e. the Units from the Learning and Development qualifications.  This change alone allows the PTLLS, CTLLS and DTLLS qualifications to better reflect a wide range of teaching and training environments.  I strongly support the need for CPD and making it a requirement to maintain professional status.  IfL?  Well other than conferring QTLS I can't honestly say I've gained much benefit from being a member. 

I've always supported ATLS status because, if nothing else, it acknowledges that NVQ assessors (for that read QCF qualification assessors) do train and teach their learners.  To state that they simply "assess" is to do assessors a very great injustice.  Their practice is, in my experience, more developmental, inclusive and learner centered than the majority of "classroom/training room" tutors, trainers, lecturers, etc. 

The Interim report recommends that:
  • The 2007 Regulations be revoked with effect from 1 September 2012.
  • Public funding of IfL should come to an end in the financial year 2012-1013 and IfL membership should be voluntary as with all private members bodies.
  • Professionalism should be fully the responsibility of LSIS
  • The CTLLS qualification and ATLS status to be abolished.
  • PTLLS to be replaced by a new preparatory award intended as a threshold license to practice in FE.
  • DTLLS to be replaced with a Certificate in Further Education (sounds rather like Cert. Ed. PCET to me!)
  • A new Diploma in FE at Level 7 for those that aspire to the highest professional levels in FE.
There is also much emphasis in the report about professionalism being a matter between the employer and employee, funding agencies incorporating robust clauses about competence of delivery staff, Ofsted being given more guidance about professionalism being part of the inspection framework, etc.

Perhaps I'm a cynic, however, in terms of employer/employee responsibilities, I can't help thinking that in these tough economic times, if it isn't a mandatory requirement it won't happen.  The problem with the 2007 Regulations is that they were seen as applying only to FE Colleges and similarly, the P/C/DTLLS qualifications were not inclusive in their original incarnation.   The benefit and relevance of ATLS was never recognised and therefore CTLLS  was merely a part of DTLLS.  In turn, DTLLS always played second fiddle to Cert. Ed. which was viewed, especially by FE College staff, as having more academic rigor and prestige.  The revised P/C/DTLLS incorporating Units from the Learning and Development qualifications (essentially NVQs) were probably doomed to failure because Teacher Education departments in FE Colleges will never see them as having equivalence as options to the "academic" units.  Private sector training organisations only tended to offer employees the PTLLS qualification because it was a contractual requirement in LSC funded contracts.  Few that achieved PTLLS in the private sector ever progressed to CTLLS or DTLLS and despite the 2007 Regulations containing a five year time limit this was never enforced - who was supposed to enforce it?

So, to revisit my original question of August 2011 and it's relevance today:
My opinion remains unchanged; YES YOU STILL NEED PTLLS if you train or teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector.  Perhaps more so today  than at any time since September 2007.  We know that when the proposed changes occur in September 2013, existing qualifications held by teaching/training professionals will be recognised.  We know that the marketplace is likely to be at least as tough as today and that indicators of quality will continue to influence where public funds are allocated.  Furthermore, the report suggests that funding agencies will incorporate more robust clauses in contracts in respect of the "professionalism" of delivery staff and that Ofsted will routinely inspect this aspect.  My conclusion is inevitable therefore, that a threshold license to practice will be of greater importance in future than perhaps it is today.  The difference is that it will have credibility in its own right with progression being more discretionary between the employer and the employee.  A threshold license gained by achieving PTLLS today could be a very wise future-proofing move indeed!

On a final note:  if CTLLS is going, why do a 12 Credit PTLLS now when there are still plenty of 6 Credit PTLLS qualifications available for enrollment?

Please feel free to join the debate on this increasingly hot topic!