Although certainly not an exclusive route to becoming a further education (FE) animal science teacher, many people have some sort of farming experience before taking on this role. Candidates for FE animal science teacher roles would be well advised to make sure that subject knowledge is up to date. Animal science courses enable students to put theory into practice in a natural environment.
Many animal science teachers will have A-levels, a higher national diploma or a degree in pharmacology, biology, animal studies and/or animal care. A level 3 national diploma in agriculture will tend to focus on sheep, beef, dairy production, agronomy, animal husbandry, DEFRA legislation, and spreaders and sprayers.
As an example, John Walshaw explains that he became a full-time programme area leader in animal studies after starting off in a part-time role at a college. He grew up on a farm and returned there after doing a national diploma in agriculture at college, followed by an agriculture degree at Newcastle University and then a Masters in animal nutrition in Canada.
More so than in most other subject areas, the FE animal science teacher role relies on practical experience. This may be from previous employment history, work experience from the course or ideally a combination of both. Walshaw recommends taking assessor and internal verifier qualifications. Many animal science teacher jobs will class assessor awards as essential but most will allow you to gain this qualification while in employment.
Walshaw states that organisation is key in the role of an animal science teacher. This will help when meeting academic deadlines. He adds that being a good team player will be important as you will play a key part in a student’s progression. He also stresses that there can be no substitute for hands-on experience: “I often help out on the family farm to keep myself up to date on modern techniques.”
Job specifications for FE Animal science teacher roles usually specify punctuality and the ability to work flexibly as an essential personal attribute. The ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines is another essential quality as is effective interpersonal and organisational skills.
The teaching apprenticeship in land and animal science at Leeds City College involves candidates studying towards a higher-level teaching apprenticeship while in post.
The two-year apprenticeship will see the candidate planning, preparing and developing “schemes of work, session plans, teaching and learning resources, learning and assessment plans”. This role also involves creating individualised SMART learning targets for students. The job pays £16,822 per annum.