Agriculture teachers must prepare, deliver and assess materials effectively to support and guide students in fulfilling their potential.
The employer-led National Land Based College (UK) has called for an improvement to the training of the next generation of land-based workers; this is where agriculture teachers come in.
The importance of industry knowledge and soft skills
Liz Lakesman, who joined Brooksby Melton College after a career working with dairy herds, stressed that “good people skills” are essential in the FE agriculture teacher role. She also said that knowing agriculture inside and out was a plus, as was patience.
Eddie Playfair of the Association of Colleges explains that FE teachers should take an interest in the latest news in education policy and the curriculum. For those wishing to become FE agriculture teachers, keeping an eye on governmental agriculture policy and the latest developments would be advantageous.
Educational opportunities in the agriculture sector are constantly developing to reflect the changing requirements of employers and technological advances in the field. New courses that have emerged in recent years include ‘Applied Agriculture’ at Hartpury College and ‘Agricultural Technologies’ at Moulton College.
Staying up to date with the ever-changing academic landscape in agriculture will give you an advantage.
What qualifications are needed to teach agriculture?
Most colleges will be seeking a minimum of three years’ industry experience. It will also be beneficial to have a working knowledge of the current developments in the agriculture industry.
A relevant degree and/or level 5 qualification in agriculture will be needed as will GCSEs in maths and English (grades A-C).
Often a college will sponsor a person to do a PGCE course.
How much does an agriculture teacher make?
As a general rule, a qualified FE agriculture teacher will earn anywhere between £24,702 and £37,258. Salaries vary on the job title, experience, geographical location and responsibilities of the job.
For instance, a lecturer in garden and planting design in Enfield, London, pays between £24,129 and £37,243 a year. A curriculum leader in horticulture at the same college pays between £39,387 and £42,852 a year, inclusive of London weighting.
What are the roles of an agriculture teacher?
Specialist land management colleges offer improved teaching tools and technology compared to more conventional colleges.
For example, Askham Bryan College unveiled a new Digital Robotic Milker in 2019. The curriculum team at the college were then tasked with embedding the new technology into courses.
Units taught on an FE agriculture course encompass a wide range of topics, such as crop production, estate skills and dealing with livestock. You can expect to be feeding pigs one day and castrating lambs the next — you will be the gateway to the next generation of farmers or agricultural engineers.
The jobs currently available in the further education agriculture and horticulture sphere can be found here in the FE Agriculture & Horticulture jobs section.
Agriculture: a subject on the up
Then environment minister Liz Truss declared that agriculture was the fastest growing UK university subject in 2016. More than 19,000 students were studying agriculture and related subjects with student numbers up by 4.6% year-on-year. A large driver of growth has been an increase in female students and it can only be a good thing that more women are entering the industry.
Specialist designated colleges and agriculture and horticulture colleges have seen their median employee size grow by around 60% and 49%, respectively.
In 2018, then business secretary Greg Clark announced an injection of £90m into the agri-tech sector. With the agri-tech sector employing half a million people in the UK, the planned investment underlines the depth of opportunities available.
Can you teach agriculture remotely?
Recent events have made social distancing measures part of the ‘new normal’. One development in the teaching of agricultural and land-based courses is remote teaching.
Such methods have proved a success, such as using CCTV footage in lambing and foaling boxes at Abingdon and Witney College. Students were able to use a live stream to see lambs being born, as opposed to needing to be present on-site.
These emerging teaching methods may pave the way for more remote teaching opportunities in the future.
Which course is best in agriculture?
The answer to this question depends on where you see yourself at the end of your education journey. Put simply, qualifications in agriculture at FE level range from level 1 to level 7. Level 1 is GCSE level and level 7 is a master’s degree. The most common level you would teach at sixth form is level 3 qualifications.
One often leads to another, for example, after successful completion of a level 2 agriculture course at a minimum merit level, students will then be able to study a level 3 qualification in agriculture.
A level 2 agriculture course aims to offer a “solid introduction to agriculture and related industries”, while moving to level 3 you will provide an overview of “every element of the agricultural industry”.
The amount of students wishing to do an apprenticeship in the agriculture sector is currently on the rise. Usually, a student will work for four days per week and undertake formal training at college one day a week. An agricultural apprenticeship pays around £145 per week for a 16- to 20-year-old.
Some colleges offer students the chance to gain valuable work experience with big names in the industry. In April 2019, Coleg Cambria Llysfasi in Wales linked up with Kubota, the Japanese tractor and heavy equipment manufacturer, to provide learners with a head-start in their chosen career.
In an effort to keep apprenticeships in agriculture both innovative and future-proof, the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education launched a review of them in October 2019.
The institute’s route panel chair for agriculture, environment and animal care, Dr. Jude Capper stated: “It is great to be starting to review agriculture, environment and animal care apprenticeships, to make sure that they’re of the highest quality and meet the demands of both employers and apprentices.”