Having been a college manager for many years I know how easy it is to get carried away with your own projects and plans and possibly also your own importance. However, all of the research I have read, the feedback I have had from learners and the impressions I have gained during observations suggest one thing, the single most important determinant of quality in education is the relationship between the teacher and the student. This not to say that college strategies, policies and management culture are not important or insignificant. It is to say that if learning provider leadership teams wish to have a real impact upon the quality of the learner experience and make a real difference to people’s lives they would be advised to concentrate on supporting teachers to develop and grow both their subject knowledge and their teaching skills. To create an organisational culture of learning, where everybody in the institution is an enthusiast for education and everyone is a lifelong learner.
This is not an easy thing to achieve, you may have tutors who have taught the same courses for many years and have lost their enthusiasm and creativity. You may have people in posts who are defensive and fearful of change. People may feel insecure about admitting their weaknesses. The challenge is to create a culture where people are not afraid and feel confident about taking responsibility for their own development.
If you are interested in organisational change and staff development in an educational organisation there is a very good publication from the IfL (Institute for Learning) which contains a wealth of practical tips on how to support your teaching staff to become brilliant teachers.
See Brilliant Teaching and Training in FE and Skills – A guide to effective CPD for teachers, trainers and leaders. Published by IfL and funded by LSIS
Martin Sepion is an educational adviser working for JISC Regional Support Centre London