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Further education (FE) tutors teach a wide range of subjects, encompassing academic subjects, such as maths and English, diplomas, leisure and hobby courses, such as photography, and vocational courses. FE can be a hugely rewarding and fulfilling career and you don't need to worry about having a degree to embark on it.
There is an increasing onus being placed on vocational subjects in the UK with the introduction of T Levels (which are equivalent to three A Levels) coinciding with the government’s commitment to this sphere. This commitment is designed to provide students and employers with “the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow”.
With the increasing emphasis on upskilling the workforce, demand for FE tutors is on the rise. Teaching staff in the FE sphere currently account for around 42% of overall staff in UK colleges, which is 24,998 members of staff.
In 2013, the UK government got rid of the requirement for newly-appointed teachers to have undergone formal teacher training before working in the FE sector. Due to the fact that there is no pre-requisite for FE tutors to have a degree, this makes it a desirable career for those who wish to impart their wisdom on the next generation.
Each institution will usually have specific rules around training.
They usually centre around the following standard teaching qualifications:
There are a few routes available to those wishing to pursue a career in the FE sector. The first one is the university route. In order to teach academic qualifications, such as A levels, you'll usually need a degree in the subject, but as previously mentioned, this not a necessity.
This involves doing one of the following qualifications:
Training providers will be able to help with organising teaching practice for you.
To meet the entry requirements for this route, you will need GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths; and 1 or 2 A levels or a level 3 diploma for a level 4 or level 5 course. Relevant experience will also qualify you for this route.
This involves completing a learning and skills teacher higher apprenticeship. To do so, you’ll need a relevant qualification in the subject you want to teach. Relevant work experience in the field will be looked favourably upon by employers when applying for an apprenticeship.
This involves applying for an FE tutor role directly after having several years-worth of experience and qualifications in a specific trade. The National Careers Service website cites plumbing or hairdressing as examples. You will then be able to train for a teaching qualification on the job.
Some examples of using experience in the workplace could be a business studies tutor using his or her experience of working in retail or running a business. You could be a journalist or editor who wishes to try their hand at teaching FE education or you may have worked as a database administrator or software developer and want to pursue a career teaching computer science and IT.
Employers will check your criminal record, which is called a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. This is crucial given you will be working with young adults.
Once you have established yourself as an FE tutor, you can become a senior lecturer, the head of a department, education programme co-ordinator, or else move into management. Your experience could also lead you to pursuing a career as a training assessor.
Career progression can also take the form of engaging in research, increasing your hours if you’re part-time, developing a broader range of courses, teaching methods and strategies.
In terms of enabling factors for career progression, a study found that by far and away the most effective factor was ‘gaining a formal teaching or training qualification’. This was ahead of ‘gaining on-the-job experience’ and ‘achieving Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS)’.
Bursaries are available for some subjects in the FE sector and act as a great incentive for increasing participation. These are available for those wishing to teach in the following areas: maths, science, engineering, computing, SEND, and English.
The funds available range from £12,000 for English tutors, £15,000 for SEND tutors and rise to £26,000 for maths, science, engineering and computing tutors.
Conditions needed to get your hands on the bursary are that the trainee has been accepted onto an FE ITE programme (minimum Level 5, for example, DET, Cert Ed or PGCE), as well as holding at least a Level 3 qualification or appropriate professional experience related to their teaching subject.
Grants are available for in-service trainees who have been accepted to take their place on an ITE programme and encompass English, maths and SEND. These are worth £18,200 apiece.
In terms of the person specification, colleges will be looking for a motivated individual who can demonstrate enthusiasm for working with young people. Experience of working with 16-18 year olds will be desirable, but is not a pre-requisite.