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How to Become a Further Education Teacher: A Step-by-Step Guide

February 3, 2024

Table of Contents

Becoming a Further Education Teacher is a journey that combines passion, dedication, and a commitment to lifelong learning. This guide offers a step-by-step approach to acquiring the necessary qualifications, developing crucial skills, and understanding the diverse roles and responsibilities of an FE teacher.

From initial teacher training to advanced career progression opportunities, this article is your roadmap to becoming an adept educator in the FE sector, where you'll not only impart knowledge but also inspire and guide a wide range of learners towards their educational and career goals.

How to Become a Further Education Teacher

1. Understand the Role of a Further Education Teacher

Before becoming a further education (FE) teacher, it’s important to understand what’s required of the role and whether it would suit you. You will be playing a pivotal role in providing academic and vocational training to a diverse student population, including young people over the age of 16 and adults. Your main responsibilities will involve:

  • Designing and delivering courses: Crafting the curriculum that aligns with your subject specialism, whether it’s in academic subjects, vocational skills, or work-related education.
  • Assessment: Evaluating student progress and providing feedback is crucial to their development and the success of the programme.
  • Guidance: Offering career and educational counselling to help students make informed decisions about their futures.

Day-to-day activities may include:

  • Preparing lesson plans
  • Conducting classes and workshops
  • Marking assignments and exams
  • Attending staff meetings
  • Maintaining records of students’ progress

You will be expected to stay abreast of your field, ensuring your teaching methods and material are current. This will involve continuous professional development (CPD), allowing you to improve your teaching practice and expand your knowledge base.

FE teaching is highly adaptive. You may teach various level courses from basic English and Maths to more advanced speciality subjects. Your role is not just to educate but to inspire and enable a wide array of learners to acquire new skills and knowledge, empowering them to achieve their educational and career objectives.

2.Get the Relevant Qualifications

To embark on a career as a further education (FE) teacher, specific qualifications are required to ensure your expertise and ability to educate learners effectively.

Undergraduate Degrees

If your aim is to teach an academic subject, you typically need an undergraduate degree in the subject area you intend to teach. This ensures you have a foundational knowledge of the content you'll be delivering to your students.

Postgraduate Certificates

Pursuing a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) with a focus on post-compulsory education can be highly advantageous. Although not always mandatory, a PGCE may afford you additional opportunities and recognition within the FE sector.

Teaching Qualifications

You will often start your FE teaching career without a formal teaching qualification, but you will be expected to achieve one as you progress. The level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (DET) is widely recognised, alongside the Certificate in Education (Cert Ed). Some institutions may also offer the Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) qualification.

Subject Expertise

For vocational or skill-based subjects, your industry experience and expertise are crucial. You will need relevant qualifications or a substantial professional background in the area you wish to teach, such as plumbing, healthcare, or manufacturing. This practical insight is invaluable in a vocational education setting.

3. Gain Professional Development

Embarking on a career as a further education (FE) teacher requires engagement in structured professional development, beginning with initial teacher training and continuing with ongoing skill enhancement activities throughout your career.

Initial Teacher Training

Your journey into further education teaching starts with Initial Teacher Training (ITT). This is a mandatory step to ensure you possess the necessary qualifications and skills. Typically, you'll need:

  • A degree relevant to the subject you intend to teach.
  • A recognised teaching qualification such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) with a focus on post-16 education.
  • For non-degree holders, relevant vocational experience combined with a teaching qualification is also considered.

To enrol in ITT programmes, explore universities or education colleges offering courses tailored to FE teaching. They often include a blend of theoretical classroom learning and practical placements.

Continuous Professional Development

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is crucial to remain current in your field and meet the evolving demands of educational settings. As a FE teacher, you should:

  • Regularly attend workshops and training sessions relevant to your teaching discipline.
  • Engage in peer observations and mentorship opportunities to exchange knowledge and best practices.
  • Stay updated with the latest educational technologies and pedagogical research.

CPD can be tracked and planned using a professional development portfolio to reflect on your progress and set future goals. Remember, effective CPD is both reflective and proactive, catering to your own development and the enhancement of your students’ learning experience.

4. Get Registered and Certificates

To embark on a career as a further education teacher in the UK, certain registrations and certifications are necessary for compliance with educational standards and safeguarding policies.

Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills Status

To become a recognised further education teacher, you need to obtain the Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status. This professional designation is awarded by the Society for Education and Training (SET) upon successful completion of a professional formation process, which is a period of structured, supported professional development and evidence-gathering.

  • Path to QTLS:
  1. Initial Teacher Training: Complete an initial teacher training program which could lead to a Diploma in Education and Training (DET), or equivalent qualifications.
  2. Professional Membership: Register as a member of the SET.
  3. Professional Formation: Undertake professional formation, demonstrating your effective practice based on the Professional Standards for Teachers and Trainers.
  4. Submission of Evidence: Submit a professional formation portfolio to SET, along with a recommendation from your supporter, who should be someone from your teaching practice.
  5. SET Review: The SET assesses your submitted evidence and may award QTLS.

Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service Check

As a teacher, you will be working with young people and vulnerable adults, which necessitates an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. This enhanced check provides a thorough background review, verifying if there are any cautions, warnings, reprimands, or convictions in your name that should be considered before entering the profession.

  • Process for Enhanced DBS Check:
  1. DBS Application: You, or your employer, submit an application for your enhanced DBS check.
  2. Verification: Relevant information from the police and other authorities is collated.
  3. DBS Certificate: The DBS certificate is issued, which you need to present to your employer.

It is essential that you maintain a clean record and renew your DBS check periodically to ensure ongoing eligibility for teaching roles.

5. Look at Employment Opportunities

To embark on a career as a further education teacher, you have the option to work in various settings, each offering unique roles and experiences. Identifying the right work environment for you is crucial for a successful and fulfilling career.

Further Education Institutions

These include colleges and sixth forms offering a vast range of courses, from vocational training to academic qualifications. Your employment opportunities in these institutions span a range of subject areas according to your specialisation.

Adult and Community Education

Your role in adult education centres often involves teaching mature learners, and providing a pathway for them to gain new skills or improve existing ones. Community education often focuses on personal development and employability skills.

Private Training Providers

Employment in private training organisations typically involves delivering specialised industry-specific training. These providers cater to the needs of employers and focus on practical, job-related skills.

Prisons and Youth Offender Institutions

Working within the justice system, you'll have the opportunity to teach a diverse curriculum aimed at rehabilitation and providing offenders with the education needed to reintegrate into society upon release.

6. Essential Skills and Attributes

To excel as a further education (FE) teacher, you require a specific set of skills and attributes that will enable you to effectively educate and inspire learners aged 16 and above.

Interpersonal Skills: Your ability to communicate clearly and build rapport with your students will be crucial. You should have the capacity to engage with a diverse range of individuals respectfully and empathetically.

  • Communication: Articulate complex concepts in a way that is accessible and understandable to your students.
  • Listening: Be attentive to students' needs and feedback to provide support.

Subject Expertise: A deep understanding of your subject area is fundamental. This proficiency should not only cover theoretical knowledge but also practical skills, especially if you're teaching vocational courses.

Passion and Motivation: A genuine enthusiasm for your subject and the teaching profession helps you inspire students. An unyielding drive is essential for fostering a positive and motivating learning environment.

  • Enthusiasm: Display a fervent interest in the subject to motivate students.
  • Commitment: Show dedication to the continual improvement of your own teaching practices and professional development.

Organisational Skills: Plan lessons effectively and manage your time efficiently to cover the curriculum while also addressing the individual needs of your class.

  • Lesson Planning: Develop structured sessions with clear objectives.
  • Time Management: Balance teaching, marking, and administrative tasks gracefully.

Adaptability: The FE sector is constantly evolving, so you must be able to adapt your teaching strategies to embrace new technologies and methodologies.

Remember, educating in the FE sector is as rewarding as it is challenging, and possessing these skills will enhance your ability to make a significant impact on your learners' educational journey.

7. Craft Your CV and Cover Letter

When pursuing a role as a further education teacher, your CV (Curriculum Vitae) and cover letter are crucial tools that provide your first impression to employers. These documents should be tailored specifically to the teaching position you seek, reflecting both your professional qualifications and your enthusiasm for the role.

CV Guidance:

  • Personal Details: Start with your name, professional title, and contact details.
  • Personal Statement: Craft a brief statement summarising your teaching philosophy and career objectives.
  • Work Experience: List your relevant teaching experience in reverse chronological order, highlighting your responsibilities and achievements.
  • Education: Detail your qualifications, particularly those pertinent to teaching.
  • Skills: Include a section dedicated to your teaching abilities, technological proficiencies, and any additional skills.
  • References: Provide contact details for referees, typically previous employers or academic tutors.

Cover Letter Structure:

  1. Introduction: Mention the role you're applying for, the institution, and where you found the vacancy.
  2. Why You’re Suitable: Outline your relevant skills, experience, and knowledge. Use examples to substantiate your suitability.
  3. Why the Role Appeals to You: Communicate your interest in the specific role and institution.
  4. Conclusion: End with a proactive statement, expressing your eagerness to discuss your application in an interview.

Remember, your cover letter should complement your CV, not repeat it.

Recommended reading: How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job in Further Education.

Formatting Tips:

  • Use clear, professional fonts like Arial or Times New Roman.
  • Maintain a consistent format throughout both documents.
  • Utilise bullet points for easy reading in the 'Work Experience' and 'Skills' sections.

Reflecting confidence and clarity in your CV and cover letter sets the stage for a strong application as a further education teacher.

8. Apply to Jobs

Navigating the job application process effectively is crucial to securing a position as a further education (FE) teacher. You will need to explore various vacancies, submit tailored application forms, and prepare thoroughly for the interview stage.

Finding Vacancies

To start your journey towards becoming a further education teacher, you will need to identify available teaching positions. You can start by:

  • Checking dedicated job boards, such as Bolt Jobs: websites that specialise in education vacancies, often list available FE teaching positions, check out our vacancies in further education colleges and sixth forms.
  • Exploring college websites: FE colleges typically advertise job openings on their own sites, so it's worth visiting those directly.
  • Networking: attending education sector events and joining professional teaching forums can lead to job opportunities.

Application Forms

When submitting application forms:

  • Follow instructions carefully: ensure you complete all sections as directed, adhering to any specified word limits.
  • Highlight relevant experience: draw attention to your experience in education or in the subject area you wish to teach.
  • Check qualifications: confirm you meet the requirement, such as a degree in the subject and GCSEs at grade 4 (C) or above in English and Maths (and Science for primary education).
  • Tailor your application: adjust your application to match the job description and person specification of the vacancy.

Interview Preparation

Preparation is key for a successful interview. Consider the following:

  • Research the institution: understand the ethos, values, and educational offerings of the college or organisation.
  • Anticipate common questions: be ready to discuss your teaching philosophy, strategies, and how your experience aligns with the job role.
  • Prepare examples: have concrete examples of past teaching successes and how you've addressed challenges.
  • Practice your answers: run through potential questions with a friend or mentor to build confidence.

By following these steps attentively, you stand a strong chance of advancing through the job application process in the field of further education.

9. Consider Career Advancement Opportunities

As a further education teacher, your growth trajectory can be both rewarding and diverse. Your advancement in this role will largely depend on the qualifications and experience you acquire over time. Here are some pathways you might consider:

Qualifications for Progression:

  • Level 4 Certificate: Starting point for teaching qualifications.
  • Level 5 Diploma: Advances your teaching theory knowledge and practice.
  • Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS): A professional status that can enhance your teaching practice and employability.

Roles for Career Development:

  • Departmental Team Leader - Lead a team within a subject department, and oversee the curriculum development.
  • Head of Subject - Specialise and take charge of a specific subject area, influencing teaching strategies.
  • Head of Department - Manage and lead entire departments, shaping the educational offerings and strategies.

Your progression may also involve moving into more specialised roles, such as becoming a curriculum developer, an advanced skills teacher, or even entering into educational management. Each step will demand a combination of further qualifications, robust teaching experience, and a dedication to professional development. By actively seeking out additional responsibilities and showing initiative in your own learning, you can build a strong case for career advancement within further education.

Additional Useful Resources

  1. Explore the benefits of working in the further education sector in our article, Why Work in Further Education.
  2. Discover key strategies for career progression in our guide, Career Advancement in Further Education: How to Stand Out.
  3. Learn how to craft an effective cover letter for education roles with How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job in Further Education.
  4. Enhance your personal brand in the education sector by reading our tips on Crafting a Personal Brand in the Further Education, Skills, and Learning Sectors.
Alex Lockey
Director | Bolt Jobs
Founder Alex Lockey is an expert in further education, learning, and skills sector. He leads cost-effective hiring solutions and is known for successful talent placements. Dynamic and driven, Alex seeks innovative solutions to solve sector hiring challenges.