Reasons Why You Should Return to Teaching
Are you thinking about a career change? Would you like to make a real difference and inspire the next generation?
You may have completed your teacher training a number of years ago and worked in the corporate world. Perhaps you gained some teaching experience in the past and you are now looking at a number of career options including working in the Further Education sector (FE).
The Further Education environment has experienced a significant change since the start of the pandemic. In the pre-COVID world, the FE sector has primarily delivered all teaching and learning activities in face-to-face classroom settings. When the initial lock down happened, schools and colleges had to quickly transition to 100% remote working. FE providers responded with resilience and creativity.
Here are some of the benefits of returning to FE teaching:
# Every day is different – Many FE teachers would agree that working with students is both challenging and incredibly varied. While in a traditional nine-to-five job you might be dealing with the same issues, your job as a teacher is varied every day. You may be delivering lectures, marking assignments or researching for new course materials. You could use the latest digital education tools to make your lessons more engaging and inspiring.
#Support – There are a range of support initiatives available for FE teachers which include employee coaching, counselling, peer-to-peer mentoring and professional development courses. In addition, the UK Government has recently launched a new £9.5 million grant scheme to support the professional development of FE teaching staff.
# Make a real difference – Have you previously worked in an office and felt that your work made only a small difference to the lives of other people? Do you wish that you could make a more fundamental contribution through your everyday work?
FE teachers find that their work makes a genuine difference. As a teacher, you would be sharing your subject knowledge, your skills and experience of working in your field of specialism. You could be a role model to your learners. You could share with them your deep interest in your field, and inspire them to develop a career in your area of expertise. You could empower and encourage your students on a daily basis. For some of your learners, you may be the first person who has ever believed in their potential. You could help your students develop their self-confidence and become aware of their strengths.
# Continue expanding your knowledge – Working as an FE teacher, you would be able to use a wide range of skills, starting from communications, creativity, organisation and problem solving. You would be able to continuously expand your subject knowledge. When developing teaching materials, you will be engaging in research and keeping your knowledge up-to-date. You could attend conferences and workshops, and share best practices with other educators. You could be asked to teach on new academic courses and widen your repertoire of skills.
# Become part of a community – You could become part of a supportive network of teachers and feel part of a community. Most FE teachers care deeply about their work and they are delighted to welcome you to the team.
# Varied work pattern – Based on the 2018-2019 Further Education Workforce Data for England report, 46% of FE teachers at colleges and 43% at other providers work part-time.
If you are an industry professional interested in returning to teaching, you could start with part-time teaching alongside your current job. Transitioning gradually to FE teaching would allow you to ‘dip your toe in the water’ without making a significant career shift.
The academic year is based on autumn, spring and summer semesters, and you will be able to enjoy some generous summer holidays. FE teachers can choose between working full-time, part-time, in the evenings, or even on a casual hourly basis. Teaching also offers great job security.
# Strong demand – Vacancies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields are increasingly hard to fill due to an ongoing shortage of applicants. Based on the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s report in 2021, ‘the UK economy suffers a loss of £1.5bn per year due to STEM skills shortages’.
You might be surprised to hear that there is a real shortage of FE teachers specialising in STEM subjects. As the figures indicate, there is an acute shortage of people entering STEM professions as well as strong demand for educators. The FE sector is actively looking to recruit people with industry experience to share their knowledge and experience to the next generation and prepare them for the world of work.
# Diverse working environments – There are many General FE and tertiary colleges, Sixth Form colleges and Private trainer providers you could work for. You could teach young people who want to improve their basic literacy and numeracy skills prior to applying for an apprenticeship. You could teach adult part-time learners and deliver evening courses. You could be involved in teaching mature learners who wish to reskill and change careers.
Suzette returned to FE teaching nearly two years ago and she is now employed by a college in the South of England. Suzette completed her teaching degree more than a decade ago however she decided to develop a career in events management. At the start of the pandemic, Suzette spent some time re-evaluating her career. She genuinely missed her interactions with learners, seeing them develop over the years, and being part of a closely-knit community of teachers. She applied to a part-time vacancy advertised by her local FE College and was immediately offered some weekly teaching sessions.
A few months later, a full-time permanent teaching post became available and she was encouraged to apply. She is now delighted to work as a lecturer and make a valuable contribution to the development of young people.
As a returning FE teacher, you will be training the next generation of workers. You will be passing on your knowledge, experience and skills to future talent. It can give you the opportunity to make a positive difference in both a personal and professional capacity. It can enable you to make a real contribution.