Further education may be a great choice for you if you want to work with sixth formers and above, or with a diverse group of motivated students from all backgrounds. We’ve put together this brief introduction with answers to some of the more frequently asked questions.
FE refers to post-compulsory education, especially for 16 to 19-year-olds. It’s distinct from the higher education (HE) provided by universities, though there are some overlaps. It covers a vast range of topics, from basic skills and language training to degree-level studies and vocational education.
FE roles involve huge variety. There are opportunities to teach in a multitude of other institutions, including sixth-form colleges, community education centres, young offenders’ organisations and charities. Working in FE can boost your career prospects by building vital skills, such as leadership and creativity. As well as that, FE roles offer a better work-life balance with holiday entitlement commonly at 37 days per year plus bank holidays.
All sorts of students come through the door of an FE college. The bright school-leaver who senses that she has a better future in a sixth form college; the adult facing unemployment who wants to re-train to help him find a job; the non-native speaker looking to master English; or the individual who wants to follow a vocation rather than take a degree. They all have an eye on their future and you can help them achieve their goals.
No-one can know how social, economic and technological developments will affect the lives of our young people. Teachers and lecturers provide them with skills to navigate a very uncertain future and the FE sector is known for anticipating changing demands and rapidly reshaping its curriculum accordingly. More recent data points to FE colleges contributing over £20 billion (as measured by GDP) to Scotland’s economy over the long term.
Colleges raise participation rates in their communities but they don’t just provide education; they can attract investment and jobs to the area. Teaching in an FE college can provide a sense of pride and aspiration to local people as well as increasing their skills. Colleges continue to find innovative ways of working in their communities and responding to local demands. Although legally separate, FE colleges are working closely with local authorities, often through the new Local Enterprise Partnerships.
Furthermore, a larger number of employers view 17 to 18-year-old college leavers as more prepared for work than their contemporaries leaving school. FE colleges are also more popular with employers in terms of course content and equipping learners with the right skills for work.
FE students may be looking for an intermediate or follow-up qualification before starting university or they may want vocational qualifications, like HNC, HND, NVQ or BTEC, to help them get started on a career path. In addition, many adult learners study a huge range of subjects, from apprenticeships to post-graduate courses. Some colleges do offer degrees, more cost-effectively than universities.
The UK’s further education sector is thriving. Between 2019 and 2020, 669,000 16 to 18-year-olds chose to study in colleges. An additional 69,000 16 to 18-year-olds were undertaking an apprenticeship at their local college. The average general FE college also trains 1,300 apprentices. The sector employs 111,000 full-time-equivalent people, 55,000 of whom are teaching staff.
Yes. The average A-Level or equivalent point score per student in sixth form colleges is 772. Research shows that students at sixth form colleges are more likely to get top A-Level grades than those in school sixth