‘Casualisation’ in Further Education
According to Norman Lucas (Vol.28. 2004) in his article The ‘FENTO fandango’; national standards, compulsory teaching qualifications and the growing regulation of FE college teachers, further education has moved from a sector characterised as being “in a state of benign neglected” by central government to one, which is increasingly becoming more important and regulated during the last decade. The article critically analyse’s the developmental changes taking place in initial teacher training and continuing professional development in accordance with FENTO, together with the introduction of compulsory teaching qualifications amongst other initiatives implemented by DfES. The article illustrates the positive elements of the developments, but conversely argues of the potential danger of over regulation in an area which is largely concerned with the diversity of learners and learning contexts. The writer of this article feels that, seeking policy direction for the next decade or so may prove precarious as it is difficult to embrace the concerns of those who appear to have little opportunity to voice opinion – the teaching academics and the students. Oftentimes, the debate focuses on funding, which inevitably colours the final policies.
The NATFHE (2006) was working towards the ending of ‘casualisation’ in further and higher education. It would seem that they were negotiating to ensure those employed temporarily or paid hourly were offered contracts for full time or fractional posts, and aimed to recruit college employed staff as opposed to agency staff. Although colleges may have their own employment policies it may be useful to examine the ‘generic’ nature of how colleges function to see how all of this impacts on those involved in teaching and learning.
Further Education relies heavily on part-time staff, which can involve just an hour or teaching as many hours as those in full time positions. However, part-time staff will not enjoy the same benefits as those with a contract of employment such as holiday pay, sick leave and are not protected by rights in respect of unfair dismissal or redundancy, although new legislation has recently come into being, which creates similar rights to those who have been employed for six months. However, teachers are only paid for the hours they are actually teaching, they will not receive financial remuneration for the preparation of lessons nor will they be supported in the marking of work or any other additional duties required of them such as completing essential documents for the college and the students and attending meetings. The offer of any work remains precarious and largely depends on the numbers of those enrolling on courses illuminating the lack of security in the profession. It does not take too much imagination to visualise how valuable this way of working is ‘deemed to be by the colleges in terms of balancing the books and making use of ‘limited resources’, but perhaps little focus is being placed on the long term effect on the profession and how this way of being filters through to the student’s learning experience. The ‘NATFHE’ continues to strive towards full rights for agency staff and legal case are being pursued for their members. The Institute for learning now requires that all teachers and lecturers are registered, but this has not been embraced by those in the sector and the ongoing take up is poor due to the costs. Many professionals see this registration as “yet another way of making money”.
The reader of this article undertook a literary review and discovered that; Tertiary education is one of the most casualised sectors in Australia. The recent and significant expansion in casual staff numbers is reflective of the trends, noted in many American and United Kingdom Universities in the last decade”. Universities make use of enthusiastic and talented part-time academics to provide delivery of their resource intensive programmes including the teaching of first year students, and as a result has become a ‘prominent management issue’ in terms of the quality of this experience for both the teacher and the student. For example; how does the sector recruit and support casual staff and ensure a quality experience for all concerned? What are the processes in staff development and enhancement opportunities? A weighted emphasis is oftentimes placed on casual staff to deliver complex programmes to students with complex and diverse needs, many from overseas or whose first language is not English, creating dynamics which may be construed as increasingly exploitative.