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between FE and HE, and these will be able to make a major contribution to this debate.

The centrality of teaching and learning Whilst recognising the importance placed by Foster on putting the learner at the heart of policy and practice, this rhetoric misses an important point. The TLRP’s further education projects all highlight the central importance of the relationship between the tutor and the learner in the success of FE. Therefore we would argue that teaching and learning, rather than simply learners, should be considered as central. We would welcome a TLRP contribution to the debate that emphasises the importance of looking at teaching as well as learning within further education. 10

The experiences of learners in FE Colleges already appear to be carrying out remedial work to restore or repair damaged learning identities for some groups of learners. Interviews with learners in FE have highlighted the important role of schooling and prior educational experiences in shaping the issues for students in FE and the challenges they present to FE staff. Many of the learners we have interviewed talked of their negative experiences in the school system, which they contrasted with the very positive experience of learning they were getting in FE. In addition, a significant proportion of the learners interviewed in London received part or all of their prior education in countries outside the UK, presenting a further set of challenges for these colleges.

The effects of qualifications on literacy and numeracy The Foster review refers to the importance of literacy and numeracy in the purposes of FE but overlooks the negative effects of changes to the qualifications framework and definitions of ‘achievement’ and ‘key skills’ that affect how literacy and numeracy are taught in vocational courses. The Literacies project shows how good teaching and learning principles in this area are undermined by misunderstandings about how adults and young people use literacy in vocational and other contexts.

Conclusion

We wish to reiterate our strong commitment to playing a constructive role in discussing research evidence with policy makers formulating a response to the Foster review, and with those working in the proposed Implementation Unit. 11

10 Again while the rhetoric is clear that the “needs and interests of learners and employers [are] at the heart of the system” the FE White Paper (DfES, 2006) also acknowledges the need for a “national strategy for teaching and learning in Further Education.” The main proposal in relation to FE staff development is to introduce from Sept 2007 ‘a regulatory CPD requirement’ that all lecturers fulfil at least 30 hrs of continuous professional development (CPD) a year and maintain a portfolio showing, for instance, records of industrial experience.

11 The White Paper remains open for comment until 30 June 2006 and even after that date there is scope for dialogue over various aspects of implementation.

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