Take it further

By J&C Team

Want to inspire the next generation of young adults? Then teaching the over 16s could be just the job for you.

Now it’s compulsory in England for those aged 16+ to stay in education or training, opportunities in further education have expanded. Currently, three million students over 16 are in the further education (FE) sector.

It’s a huge area, providing academic, vocational and professional courses in diverse settings, from sixth-form colleges to youth offender institutes and the armed forces.

Many colleges and training institutions teach a wide variety of students with a range of ages, abilities and backgrounds, making this a sector where skills are truly transferable. There are opportunities to teach across different qualification levels and types, either during the day or in the evening.

Many vocational FE teaching jobs offer flexible and part-time hours, so you can fit teaching around another career. This is a bonus for the students, too, as it means your experience is up to date.

If you enjoy being with young adults and are looking for high levels of job satisfaction, FE teaching may be for you. Many teachers say the best thing about their work is seeing students blossom, both academically and personally.

Teach the teachers

Since September 2013, there has been no requirement for formal qualifications to teach in FE institutions. But having a good qualification under your belt will always help you to get on.

There are two ways to train to teach in FE: in-service (on the job) or pre-service (before you start).

Train on the job

In-service training means your employer arranges for you to gain a teaching qualification while you are working. Most courses are two years, taking place during an evening or half day each week.

Train before you start

Pre-service training means completing a one-year course in the subject you want to teach before you start work. The course will include a supervised placement in a FE college.

Qualifications available to you as a FE teacher are as follows:

  • Level 3 Award in Education and Training: This is a 10-week introductory course aimed at those just starting out or considering a career in FE. You’ll learn about methods of assessment and learning. There is no work placement and the course can be completed before you start teaching.
  • Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training: You’ll need 30 hours of teaching practice under your belt to do this course, which focuses on practical skills. It takes between six and nine months, and includes teaching resources and lesson planning.
  • Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training: This is the recognised, full teaching qualification for this sector. You’ll need 100 hours of teaching practice to start. It lasts between one and two years, and aims to develop your teaching and assessment skills. You will learn about different theories of learning.
  • Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training with specialist pathway: Similar to the Level 5 Diploma, this is for teaching learners who have disabilities. It is also suitable for teaching numeracy, literacy and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
  • Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS).
  • Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS).
  • Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector.
  • Teaching basic English, maths or ESOL.
  • Certificate of Education: A Cert Ed meets the Level 5 requirement, but you don’t need a degree to take it.

Graduate route 

Most commonly graduates enter teaching by completing a:

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE): This is a certificate in Post-Compulsory Education, which can be taken either full or part-time. It covers everything in a Level 5 qualification, plus extra units at a higher level.

Get a bursary

If you would like to teach maths, English or special educational needs, you may be able to get a bursary to cover your costs – see feadvice.org.uk.

You get to develop, too

Improving other people’s job prospects is a key reason to work in FE, but there are opportunities for you to develop, too. As well as training for the qualifications you need to enter teaching, many providers offer courses for you to update your skills as you progress, for example:

  • Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS): This is the badge of professionalism for post-16 education, as it shows your skills and knowledge have reached a certain professional level. It is equivalent to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which primary and secondary school teachers hold.

You can apply for QTLS status once you’ve completed a Level 5 qualification in education and training. You’ll also need Level 2 literacy and numeracy qualifications and be a member of the Society for Education and Training (find out more at set.et-foundation.co.uk).

How much can I earn?

Your earnings will depend on factors such as your qualifications, how much teaching and vocational experience you have and the demand for teachers in your subject area where you live.

Working as an unqualified FE teacher, you can expect to earn between £19,008 and £22,575. Once you’re qualified, you can expect between £23,952 and £36,162. At advanced teaching and training levels, you’re going to be looking at between £36,000 and £40,000. Leadership and management roles can command considerably higher salaries.

What skills will I need?

To become a further education teacher, you’ll need to be:

  • Extremely knowledgeable about the subject you want to teach.
  • Able to explain your subject in a way students will understand.
  • Enthusiastic and motivational.
  • Patient with a good sense of humour.
  • Able to relate well to students, no matter their age or ability.
  • Able to express yourself, with good written and verbal communication skills.
  • Organised and have planning skills.
  • Creative, to design resources that will grab your students’ attention.

Do you have a trade?

The further education sector needs experienced tradespeople who want to combine their role with training students in their field. From beauty therapy to bricklaying, music production to mechanics, there are scores of courses that need people in the know.

Becoming a National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) assessor is a way to use your skills and experience to help people get started in your trade. The role involves supporting and assessing students who are working towards their NVQs, and making sure they meet the necessary standards.

As an NVQ assessor, you’ll need an NVQ level 3, or higher, plus knowledge, experience and skills in the subject you’ll be assessing. Excellent communication skills, a desire to help people develop and good report writing are also key.

Duties include observing students in the workplace and checking they are operating safely within sector standards by examining their portfolios and interviewing them. You will also sign off their NVQ when they meet the necessary requirements, or give advice if they don’t.

Second Chance

As an FE teacher, you may also work in the prison service or at youth offender institutions, where courses can help prepare offenders for their release.

‘Teaching in prison can be extremely rewarding,’ says the Education and Training Foundation. ‘You will assist prison learners to gain new skills and qualifications. Many of them will be achieving their first qualification. You will be helping them to transform their lives and be successful ‘on the out’. Teaching in prison is challenging and no two days will ever be alike.’