Further education (FE) teachers are integral in shaping the workforce of the future. Computer science teachers play a crucial role in giving students the desire and drive to forge a career in the computing world, whether in website design, 3D modelling or IT consulting.
It has never been a better time to become a computer science teacher. With the majority of jobs having a digital element to them, “it is predicted that within 20 years 90% of all jobs will require some element of digital skills”.
With skills such as coding, computer programming and cyber security growing in importance in the workplace, the UK government announced a boost to computer science teaching in 2018. Nick Gibb, Minister for School Standards, announced the UK’s first ever National Centre of Computing Education to ensure the next generation is equipped with the technological skills needed to help the UK continue as a leading global digital economy.
In 2015, the digital sectors contributed £118bn to the UK’s economy and an estimated 1.2m more people with specialist digital skills are needed by 2022. Exports of digital goods and services are currently worth over £50bn.
How do I become a computer science teacher?
The Qualified Teacher Status route is the most common for FE teachers. To follow this path, you will need a relevant degree (a subject knowledge enhancement course is required if the degree is not deemed relevant), a GCSE grade C/4 in English and maths, and pass a professional skills test and DBS check.
Eddie Playfair of the Association of Colleges explains that FE teachers should take an interest in the latest news in education policy, the curriculum and funding policies. He recommends trying “to see the whole student in the context of their life and their identity; the hopes and skills they bring with them, the challenges they face, their learning and their future progression”.
What qualifications do you need to be a computing teacher?
The best universities to study a computer science degree in the UK for 2021 are (overall score in brackets):
· University of Cambridge (100%)
· University of Oxford (100%)
· University of St. Andrews (96%)
· Imperial College London (96%)
· Durham University (95%)
· University of Manchester (95%)
· University of Bath (94%)
· University of Glasgow (94%)
Though largely a graduate profession, FE teaching jobs can be had without holding a degree. This would usually be the case when a candidate has relevant work experience. For computer science, specifically, experience as an IT consultant, web developer and cyber security analyst, for example, would enable a college to overlook the lack of a teaching qualification.
An FE computer science teacher role will normally require a minimum of a Level 3 teaching qualification. A relevant teaching qualification may also be expected, though these are not mandatory under law.
According to UCAS, these include:
· Level 3 Award in Education and Training
· Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training
· Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training
· Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training with specialist pathway
Requirements for new FE teachers to have such qualifications were lifted by the government in 2013 so don’t be put off exploring job options if you don’t yet have a teaching qualification. You may even be able to earn one on the job.
If you needed a further incentive to become an FE computer science teacher, teacher training bursaries and grants for the academic year of 2020/21 are worth between £12,000 and £26,000.
The Department for Education explains that additional funding for training with a tuition fee, maintenance loan and extra financial support is available for candidates who are parents or have a disability.
Computer science teachers working in secondary schools in the UK can also take advantage of the student loan reimbursement scheme. Teachers that are in the first to fifth years of their careers must meet employment and subject criteria to apply for the scheme. This may be a scheme that is expanded to FE in the coming years so watch this space.
Required skills for a computer science teacher
It is very beneficial that candidates keep their subject knowledge up-to-date as technological advances are frequent. A successful candidate will need to show skills in a range of IT related areas.
An IT lecturer role at Peterborough Regional College requires the successful candidate to have knowledge in digital security, programming, digital graphics and hardware development. Proven teaching/training experience is preferred.
To get ahead in the interview, it is recommended that you display your commitment to ongoing professional development. Strong interpersonal skills will always be looked upon favourably.
Can I become a teacher with a 2.2 degree?
There is absolutely no reason why a 2.2 degree should be a barrier to becoming an FE teacher. Basic eligibility requirements for teacher training eligibility include a degree (non-specified grade) and a GCSE in maths and English at grade C / 4 (or standard equivalent).
Although colleges will have slightly different recruitment criteria to each other, Prospects states that to be eligible for postgraduate teacher training, “you'll need a minimum of a 2:2 degree, plus other requirements such as a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check”.
How much do computing teachers earn?
An unqualified FE computer science teacher can expect to earn between £19,758 to £23,325. Once qualified, this rises to between £24,702 and £37,258. These rates are recommended by the Association of Colleges. The average salary for a computer science teacher is £36,400 per year. This equates to £18.67 per hour.
As of July 2020, recommendations from relevant bodies to see FE teachers receive a 5.5% pay rise were accepted by UK education secretary Gavin Williamson. This is the biggest pay rise for teachers in a generation and will be worth between £1,342 and £1,677, depending on location.