From education to employment

Becoming a teacher or trainer in the further education and skills sector

Teaching and training is about helping someone reach their full potential, whether this is for personal or professional reasons. The further education and skills sector includes learners from age 14 upwards who will be in many different environments such as schools, colleges, the workplace, prisons, private and voluntary organisations. You have the opportunity to help make a difference to someone’s life and career. It can be extremely rewarding to know that you have helped them perform a new skill, acquire new knowledge, gain a qualification or a promotion at work.

What to teach

Once you have made the decision that you would like to teach, you need to have a specialist subject in mind. Perhaps you have a profession, hobby, interest or trade that you feel you are good at. Depending upon what you are going to teach and where you will teach, you may not need to be qualified in your specialist subject, but be able to demonstrate appropriate skills and knowledge at a particular level. For example, some subjects require you to have a level above that which you will teach, i.e., holding a level 3 qualification to teach it at level 2. Others might not require you to hold a subject qualification at all, but just have the necessary skills and knowledge. There are Sector Skills Councils and Standard Setting Bodies who make these decisions for most subjects.

Where to teach

Teaching and training can take place anywhere that someone needs to learn something. It doesn’t just have to be in a school, college or a university. For example, you might like to give up your current career and teach full time in a sixth form college, teach part time in a prison, train people on the job where you currently work, work via an agency at different organisations or volunteer your services for free at a charity.

How to teach

If your subject is theoretical, you could use lectures, presentations and discussions. If your subject is practical, you could use demonstrations, physical activities and role plays. What you do need to consider is how your learning will take place. If you can use a variety of approaches and activities, this will give your learners more chances to be involved, ask questions and to learn.

Besides teaching, you will need to plan your sessions, prepare your materials and resources, assess your learners’ progress and achievement, give feedback to them and evaluate what you have done.

Skills needed to teach

You need to have skills that will help you convey your subject such as passion, confidence and enthusiasm. You also need to have patience, and be able to inspire and motivate your learners regarding your specialist subject. This might take some practice depending upon the age range of your learners. You will have administrative work to carry out therefore having the ability to be organised will help, as will being dedicated to your role and acting in a professional manner.

Professional standards for teachers and trainers

The Education and Training Foundation have a set of standards for teachers and trainers in education and training in England. You might like to take a look at them to see what you can aspire to.

Teaching qualifications

In 2013, the Government removed the requirement for teachers in the sector to be qualified. It’s now the responsibly of the individual employer to make the decision. However, most people in a teaching or training role will want to do it properly, and organisations will want to give a quality service to their learners by having qualified staff.

You could take the Level 3 Award in Education and Training, a short introductory course which is offered nationwide. The Award is ideal if you are not yet in a teaching role, have just started teaching, or just want to know what’s involved. It will give you the basics of how to plan, deliver and assess. You can then take a further teaching qualification if required. The Level 4 Certificate and the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (or Cert Ed/PGCE) require you to have teaching practice hours (30 and 100 respectively).

There might be grants, loans and bursaries available to help with your costs, particularly in certain skill shortage areas such as construction, maths and science.

Text books and resources

Click these links for reading lists by a variety of authors for the Award, the Certificate and the Diploma. There are direct links to Amazon where you can view samples of most of the books and read reviews.

Resources for teachers and learners of the qualifications can be found here.

Applying for a teaching position

You will need to research organisations that might require teachers or trainers in your specialist subject. You could find out what colleges and training organisations there are in your location and politely contact them to ask if they have any positions available. If they do, ask for an application form. If they don’t, ask if you can send them your curriculum vitae for them to keep on file. Don’t be put off by rejection, you need to persevere and stay positive.

If you are, attending a course at the moment, you could talk to the tutor and ask them if they know of any teaching opportunities. You could even ask if you could sit in on a session which is being delivered in your subject area. This will help you see what is involved for your particular subject. You could make some useful contacts this way and perhaps offer to do some voluntary teaching. This would give you some great experience which would help when applying for jobs.

When applying for a job, resist the temptation of taking whatever might be offered to you. Sadly, there are some organisations that are more focused upon reaching targets and obtaining money than the teaching and learning experience. This might not lead to a happy working environment and you could feel pressured to do things you know are wrong. Always ask what the quality procedures are in the organisation. If there is a good system for supporting staff and ensuring a quality service, it shows the organisation is committed to learning and not just focused on money.

Websites advertising teaching and training jobs

You might find it useful to look at the following site, and sign up for their updates when jobs in your specialist subject and location are advertised:

Ann Gravells is an author and education consultant. She can be contacted via her website:
You can follow her on Twitter @AnnGravells

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