IfL and University of Wolverhampton launch FE and skills research centre

2 May 2013 04:42 PM

Research into the practice of teaching, training and learning in further education will be given a welcome boost by a research centre launched last night at the University of Wolverhampton’s School for Education Futures (SEF).

The new Centre for Research and Development in Lifelong Education (CRADLE), established in partnership with the Institute for Learning (IfL) and chaired by Professor Denis Gleeson, will be an important hub and repository for policy and practitioner research that has a distinctive focus on the early years of practice. CRADLE aims to provide more and new kinds of research for practitioners and policymakers, providing evidence-based and authoritative resources for the FE and skills sector, including the teaching of vocational education. IfL’s members from across the diverse sector will help inform CRADLE’s research priorities.

Professor Gleeson said, “The launch of CRADLE is a landmark development at the University of Wolverhampton, reinforcing the university's strong commitment to promoting and developing vocational education and training in the region and the UK. With its sector partners – colleges, schools, employers and IfL – CRADLE is being launched at an opportune time when the demand for high-quality vocational education and training is high on the policy agenda for improving the life chances and employment opportunities of young people and adults.”

IfL’s chief executive, Toni Fazaeli, said, “IfL is very pleased to have jointly created CRADLE with the University of Wolverhampton to address the urgent need for more research and development with an emphasis on the early years of teachers’ and trainers’ practice and on giving more support for excellent vocational teaching and training, as identified recently by the Commission for Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning (CAVTL), chaired by Frank McLoughlin.

“IfL’s work with CRADLE will build on and extend IfL’s existing and productive partnerships in further and higher education, which always focus on supporting teachers and trainers to be the best they can be in their practice: this is IfL’s object as the professional body for individual teachers and trainers.

“Each year, millions of young and adult learners depend on expert teachers and trainers to help them develop the skills and capabilities needed in our economy. Learners and employers rightly expect the practice of teaching, training and learning to be expert; that practitioners are qualified; and that their practice is based on sound research and evidence of innovations that work. IfL has long advocated evidence-based practice and that evidence informs continuing professional development (CPD). This aligns closely with CRADLE’s participatory approach to research and development, and the idea of teachers and trainers being empowered to take ownership of their professional learning and to develop applied research skills early in their career.

“At the launch event, the panel of experts tackled the question, ‘Why educate teachers?’ Strong and persuasive reasons, backed by evidence, were put forward to support the need for initial teacher education and ongoing CPD for teachers and trainers to be central to world-class further education.”

Lynne Sedgmore, executive director of the 157 Group, said, “This university and IfL partnership initiative is a crucial one for the sector and one the 157 Group fully supports. We have huge hope and confidence that CRADLE will add powerful value, evidence and innovation for the professionalism and excellence of our teachers.”

The event was chaired by Professor Gleeson, and speakers included Professor Geoff Layer, vice-chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton; Toni Fazaeli; and Dame Christine Braddock, principal of Birmingham Metropolitan College. Panel members for the interactive session and debate were Adrian Bailey, MP for West Bromwich West and chair of the business, innovation and skills select committee; Kate Green, 157 Group director of business development; Julie Hughes, head of department (Post-Compulsory Education) at the University of Wolverhampton; Matthew Harrison, director of education, Royal Academy of Engineering; Geoff Petty, researcher and writer on effective teaching, and IfL patron; and Toni Fazaeli.