Teaching in further education can be broken down into 3 broad categories; academic, vocational, and basic skills. The qualifications needed to work in each area vary, but one thing remains the same; further education teaching offers some of the most rewarding, varied and challenging opportunities within the education sector.
Unlike primary and secondary education, the further education sector has enjoyed higher retention rates of teachers and tutors. Preparing school-leavers for employment, helping adults to learn new skills, or readying students for higher education can be incredibly satisfying as the learners are there primarily out of choice rather than obligation. Einstein said “it is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge,” and with further education students hoping to improve their skills and prospects in life, you'll find many pupils willing and eager to learn.
In this article we're going to cover 3 reasons why you should consider teaching in further education. Whether you're a graduate, an industry professional or a passionate and skilled hobbyist, the further education sector could be just what you're looking for!
The further education and skills sector is arguably the widest educational field in the UK. The sector is made up of diverse institutions and teaching environments. As well as a network of well over 300 FE colleges, you could find yourself teaching in sixth-form colleges, community education centres, prisons, young offenders organisations, workplace training environments, and even charities.
The courses taught in further education vary just as much as the settings, ranging from interest courses without a qualification to basic literacy and numeracy, GCSE's and A levels, apprenticeships, and vocational qualifications. Given the variety on offer you'll have more to choose from ensuring that you find the right fit for your skills and passions.
As a teacher in further education your students could be of any age; with learners as young as 14, through to retired learners, some as old as 90. The Open College of the Arts registered their oldest student at an impressive 92 years of age and unsurprisingly, many teachers in further education often cite this variety and diversity in students as something that helps to keep the job fresh and exciting.
Importantly, for many prospective teachers the opportunity to work part-time as well as full-time makes working in further education an attractive option, especially for those who have commitments elsewhere.
Earn while you learn (and teach)
Whether you're a graduate looking to choose a career path or an industry professional considering a career change, being without a wage whilst you gain the necessary qualifications can be a real barrier. Fortunately, there are opportunities to help you make a smooth transition without having to go without a wage.
If you're coming to teaching with experience from industry in a vocational skill, many colleges are happy to let you teach before you've gained your teaching qualifications. A popular route into teaching in this way, includes taking a part time introductory qualification that only lasts 10 weeks. Once in employment, you can then take more advanced qualifications to become fully qualified whilst being paid.
If on the other hand you are a graduate with a degree or joint degree in the 'shortage subjects' of english and maths, or hoping to work in Special Education Needs (SEN) you could be eligible for a Further Education Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Bursary of between £4,000 and £25,000.
There's also a generous Golden Hello scheme of £7,500 for those who qualify to teach maths and stay in continuous employment of 2 years. This Golden Hello can be increased to £10,000 if you complete additional specialist training to support students with Special Educational Needs (SEN).
Demand for teachers
The further education sector is brimming with opportunities at the moment. Whilst the demand for 'non shortage' subjects has remained fairly static, the demand for teachers of GCSE English and Maths, basic skills such as literacy and numeracy, and vocational skills is booming. This rise in demand stems from UK industry's struggle to fill skilled vacancies. This struggle has led to a change in government policy towards basic skills, apprenticeships and vocational training.
According to a poll by the Confederation of British Industry two in three businesses expect to need more staff with higher level skills in the years ahead, but 55% fear that they will not be able to find them. It's also estimated that the UK economy needs 830,000 new engineers over the next eight years just to replace workers reaching retirement age. As such the government is relying on the further education sector to support an increase in apprenticeships whilst meeting the widespread need for basic skills training and with that will come a rise in the number of vacancies over the coming years.