The government’s Build Back Better policy has put skills at the heart of its plans to support economic growth. Central to this plan is a “mission is to unleash the potential of our whole country and restore the energy and confidence of the Victorians themselves”, according to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Key to this aim is investing in the next generation of teachers and teacher trainers in further education (FE). FE teachers require the requisite skills to teach with confidence and the ability to equip students with the tools they need to succeed in their life beyond education.
The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill has been launched to provide support for vital reforms to a sector that already contributes an estimated £26 billion to the national coffers over the working life of those learners embarking on FE studies in 2018/19.
The Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth white paper published in January 2021 makes a compelling case for supporting outstanding teaching in the FE sector. A key tranche of the white paper is the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which is designed to “allow everyone to access the education and training they need throughout their lives”, according to then education secretary Gavin Williamson.
He added: “It is our mission to make sure that opportunity is there for everyone, wherever they live, to level up every inch of the country.” Therefore, upskilling the FE teaching force is critical to reaching this lofty aspiration.
The government has made a raft of new FE Professional Development Grants available worth £9.5 million. The high-quality professional development opportunities are designed to enable FE teacher “to deliver top class education and training to young people and adults”.
Crucial to ensuring the post-16 education reforms are a success is to give FE institutions the tools to deliver excellent teaching. The government has highlighted that there is evidence to show that quality of teaching is the single largest driver of student outcomes. Therefore, demand for FE teacher educators has never been greater.
Kirsti Lord, deputy chief executive of member services from the Association of Colleges, stated: “Colleges are well used to working together on quality improvement and CPD; this fund will enable those collaborating to provide high quality CPD in a variety of areas and specialisms which it would be challenging to deliver individually.”
The grants form part of a larger investment of £65 million in 2021-22 to provide support for a number of measures announced in the Skills for Jobs white paper. Apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan said: “This investment will help build on that by making sure the sector can develop and grow and unlock even more potential.”
Designed by the FE sector for the sector, the Learning and Skills Teacher Level 5 Apprenticeship aims to be “current, relevant and challenging, inspiring learners to engage and achieve their full potential”.
The apprenticeship is designed primarily for industry experts seeking a career change. The programme aims to provide a “deep learning experience that equips them with the knowledge and skills to be highly effective teachers”. Delivered over the course of two years, participants will be assessed against nine themes.
The apprenticeship will help develop an individual’s knowledge, skills and behaviours to ensure they will be well placed to deliver effective teacher training. It represents a growing awareness to provide access across the board to contemporary programmes of teacher training for the FE sector.
FE Associates is a good example of an education specialist working in tandem with teachers to develop and learn through collaboration. “Building on our successful track record across the sector, we have developed a unique suite of innovative and ambitious national training programmes, funded by the Levy, for teachers and quality professionals in FE and Skills,” the organisation states.
Entry requirements for the apprenticeship include:
Formerly known as Pathways to FE teaching, The Talent to Teach in FE (T2TFE) is another scheme that should appeal to FE teacher educators. The programme is delivered by Cognition Education, which was established in New Zealand but offers it services across the world. Its focus is to improve education outcomes for all learners, as well as “giving educators from all walks of life new ways to inspire their students”.
Educators delivering T2TFE play an integral role in raising awareness of FE teaching as a career option among second year and final year undergraduates and postgraduate students in the UK.
The Education & Training Foundation explains that almost 1,000 participants of the T2TFE programme have been successfully placed and a “recent Evaluation Survey conducted by Cognition Education [showed] 100% of the providers said they would recommend the scheme to other providers”.
This is a prime example of the synergies that exist between private companies and government, and the opportunities that exist for those seeking to get into teacher educator roles given the spotlight on improving FE teaching standards.
Talent.com puts the median salary for a teacher trainer at £30,000 in the UK with entry level positions starting at £27,061 a year, while most experienced workers bring home up to £40,000 per year.
AoCJobs, part of the Association of Colleges, connects teachers and support staff with schools and colleges for online job opportunities.