Getting Into Further Education Teaching

Getting Into Further Education Teaching

To help with your decision to teach in the further education sector we've put together some information to help you understand the training and the funding that's available.

If you're good at relating to people and would like to help people with their development, this could be the career for you.

Experience and Work Shadowing

Before you decide to go into teaching it can be a good idea to either try and get some experience or to do some work shadowing. This can help you to get an idea of what teaching in further education is like. Some organisations may even let you teach on a voluntary or paid basis if you have enough experience. As a starting point, talk to local further education providers for more information.

Areas of teaching

Teaching in the FE sector can be split into three areas:

  • Academic
  • Basic skills
  • Vocational

As an academic teacher you'd be expected to have a qualification at least one level higher than the one you want to teach (usually a degree.) You will also need a teaching qualification or be willing to work towards one.

As a basic skills teacher you'd normally be expected to have a minimum of a level 3 qualification in the subject area that you'd like to teach, for example an A level in English to teach literacy. You would also need a teaching qualification in conjunction with a specialist diploma, or be willing to work towards one. 

As a vocational teacher or trainer you would be expected to hold substantial qualifications and/or experience in your subject area such as carpentry or plumbing. In addition you'd be expected to have or be willing to work towards a teaching qualification.

The teaching qualifications on offer

The qualifications to teach in the further education sector can be a little confusing but we'll cover the framework below.

Ultimately you’ll be aiming towards getting a qualification at level 5. You can do this through a one year full time (or two years part time, depending on availability in your area) teaching programme, or through a staggered set of standalone part time courses. Each route has the same destination – becoming a certified teacher – but through the choice of options you can fit your training around work, family or other life commitments.

Bear in mind that Employers are free to set their own requirements so it's always a good idea to keep an eye on job vacancies or to check with colleges in your area to find out what employers are looking for as a minimum requirement.

  • Level 3 Award in Education and Training (QCF) – This is an introductory qualification and can be taken without already being in a teaching role. It's approximately a 10 week part time course and includes learning about teaching and assessment methods. If you've been out of education for a while or want a short introductory course this could be a good way to start.
  • Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training (QCF) – This is for learners with a minimum of 30 hours of teaching practice and lasts between 6 – 9 months. The level 4 course helps you to develop your practical teaching skills and if you're already teaching, lets you to have your experience and practice accredited. Once this is completed, you may be able to find paid employment in your chosen area, especially if you have specialist or in-demand skills. In this situation you would be classed as an associate teacher, and typically move on to achieve a level 5 qualification whilst in post.
  • Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (QCF) – This is the recognised full teaching qualification for FE teaching and is for learners who have a minimum of 100 hours of teaching experience. The course takes 1 – 2 years to complete and covers teaching and assessment skills, theories and models of learning, and professional practice.  Expect to learn a lot in a relatively short amount of time – teaching methods, learning styles and education theory, planning and assessing, alongside a variety of optional units to reflect the different environments FE can fall into. Your English, maths and IT skills will have to be up to scratch and you’ll spend a lot of time reflecting and putting your newly acquired knowledge into practice.
  • Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training with a specialist pathway (QCF) – This diploma includes an additional specialist pathway allowing you to teach numeracy, literacy and/or ESOL, and disabled learners. The course takes 1 – 2 years to complete and covers teaching and assessment skills, theories and models of learning, and professional practice. 
  • PGCE or Cert Ed. in Post-16 and Further Education – This qualification is still offered by universities and is equivalent to the level 5 Diploma making you a fully qualified teacher.

Most of these qualifications are available via online and distance learning organisations. Whilst this can be a convenient way to study, do check that it’s a recognised provider. Explore how the practical elements will be supported and assessed. It’s best to speak a careers adviser or local college if you’re unsure.

Professional status

Whilst you’re training, becoming a member of a professional body for FE teaching and staff will certainly be worthwhile. There is some ongoing debate as to who should offer this. Currently the Society for Education and Training is very focused on providing a membership service for all levels of staff, including ‘associate’ and ‘affiliate’ level.  On offer is a range of networking and research opportunities. As a member you may be able to achieve Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status. This is a process is a post-qualification option, and is equal to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in compulsory education. Once achieved this may mean you could transfer into teaching in a primary or secondary setting.

Sources of funding and incentives for training

  • Help with course fees – All level 5 courses and post graduate course fees do not need to be paid up-front and can be added to student loans.
  • FE Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Bursaries – Bursaries are available to graduates wishing to take the full time level 5 diploma or PGCE to teach English language, maths and numeracy (from basic to GCSE and level 3), or to support learners with Special Educational Needs (SEN). This is also available to those wishing to study the diploma on a part time basis as long as they are not working in-service. Bursaries are applied for by the providers and when awarded the bursaries are passed on to trainees.

Depending on your degree classification and the subject you wish to teach you could receive a bursary of between £4,000 and £25,000. For more information on the amounts available go to the GOV.UK site.

  • FE Golden Hello Scheme – The Golden Hello Scheme of £7500 is available to newly qualified maths teachers. To be eligible you need to:
  • Be a graduate
  • Hold a full FE teaching qualification enabling you to teach maths to GCSE level
  • Be employed by a publicly funded FE provider
  • Teach maths GCSE for at least 50% of your timetable
  • Have started your 1st maths teaching post after April 2014
  • Remain in continuous employment for 2 years

If you also complete specialist training to support SEN learners before the end of your 2 years continuous employment your Golden Hello may be increased to £10,000.

  • In-service scheme for graduate maths teachers – This scheme allows colleges and training providers to apply for £20,000 per graduate trainee. It is offered to encourage further education providers to employ graduates with a minimum of a maths degree and train them whilst in-service.
  • Mathematics Subject Knowledge Enhancement Scheme (SKE) – The SKE is only for pre-service post graduates who require additional training in maths to be able to start the Initial Teacher Training course to teach maths such as the level 5 diploma, PGCE or Cert Ed. Providers of Maths SKE training are able to claim a fee to cover the costs of providing your course.

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