You know what you want to teach and you’ve set your sights on Further Education (FE). What now? The paths into teaching in this field are varied. There are a range of job roles involved; you can teach at different levels and from there develop new responsibilities, specialise or progress into management.
It’s common to move into FE from other people-focused careers, such as youth work or coaching. There is a degree of movement between the different levels of education too. Many teachers move out of compulsory education into post-compulsory, preferring to teach at a higher level, in a different environment, with a different range of learners. Another common path is to become proficient and experienced and potentially qualified in a chosen profession or skill and then train to teach in it further down the line. This can include academic subjects such as English and maths or professions including customer service or skilled trades.
Before you start
As well as an in depth knowledge and passion for the subject you want to teach, you’ll need excellent communication skills and the confidence to speak in front of groups of people. A sound grasp of Information and Learning Technology (ILT) will be useful as this a key function in most learning environments. Aside from ‘contact time’ – the time spent teaching in class you’ll have plenty of other duties to juggle alongside. Time management and planning skills are essential, aided by a healthy dose of perseverance and of course a sense of humour!
The role of the FE teacher
You may be known as a teacher, lecturer, tutor or even coach. In FE terms, it means you are qualified in both your chosen subject and in a teaching capacity (You can read more about the different qualifications required here). Your job is to support, inform, educate and guide your students to success, whether that’s achieving a certain grade, qualification or proficiency in a certain skill. You’ll also come across the term ‘associate’ teacher. This refers to those who have experience and skill in the subject they are teaching, but may not be fully qualified in the teaching aspect. As an associate it’s likely you’ll have already started your training but haven’t finished it yet. Perhaps you’ve got a high level of ability and expertise in your subject, or a specialist skill. This would make it more likely that you’d be taken on as an associate, with the expectation that you would then gain the necessary teaching credentials.
Benefits and progression
Starting salaries for a fully qualified FE teacher can vary depending on which setting you choose to teach in, as each organisation sets its own pay scale. As a guideline, you can expect to earn £21-24,000* a year as a newly qualified starter. Many organisations offer pay scales that rise over time and/or with consistent performance.
Once in post there may be a variety of development opportunities open to you. You could become an ‘ILT champion’, supporting colleagues in the use of various technologies, such as interactive whiteboards. You may get involved in a coaching programme, supporting the development of other teaching staff, become an advanced practitioner by taking further subject specialist training or train in a specific area of support, such as dyslexia. Taking on these extra responsibilities usually attracts monetary reward, as well as enhancing your own teaching practice.
With experience and further training you may progress into a management role; a departmental Team Leader, Head of Subject and Head of Department. As your management responsibilities increase, your hours spent in a teaching capacity will decrease. Once you have moved into Senior Management, you’ll be focused on quality, growth, budgeting and community engagement.
Related job roles
Other related job roles that relate to teaching include the Assessor role. This is suitable for those with a vocational background (such as hairdressing or construction), and experience of supporting others to achieve work-based qualifications. Some teachers find they are drawn towards the pastoral side of this sector. This can mean working in an Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) role, youth worker, student mentor or behaviour specialist. As you advance in this field you may move into an internal Quality role, supporting and maintaining standards.
* Salary correct as of October 2015