From education to employment

£24 million support package to boost the FE workforce – Sector Reponse

Further education providers across the country are to benefit from a package of support, worth up to £24 million, so they can continue to recruit, retain and develop excellent teachers, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced today (Wednesday 5th February). This £24 million package will strengthen the FE workforce and help to level up skills and opportunities up and down the country.

Funding is part of the significant £400 million investment to boost access to high-quality further education and training. The government is investing significantly to improve access to high-quality further education and training for 16 to 19 education in 2020-21, with additional funding and by introducing new T Level qualifications.

The multi-million pound investment will support this drive by bolstering the FE workforce, helping to deliver the government’s commitment to level up skills and opportunity across the country, with more support for FE professionals to teach the skills needed to unleash the potential of the next generation.

It includes:

  • £11 million to provide bursaries and grants worth up to £26,000 to attract talented people to train to teach in FE, in priority subject areas such as STEM, English and SEND teaching.
  • A £10 million boost to expand the government’s successful Taking Teaching Further programme, delivered in partnership with sector body the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), which sees industry professionals working in sectors such as engineering and computing to retrain as further education teachers. The scheme has already supported over 100 people to work in FE across the country so far. This additional funding will support up to 550 more people to train to teach a range of technical subjects in 2020.
  • £3 million for high-quality mentor training programmes, designed and delivered by the ETF to support FE teachers – including those in the important early years of their careers – to develop and progress.

Sector Response

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“Our ambitions for a world-beating technical education system can only be achieved if we have outstanding teachers who will inspire the next generation.

“I’ve seen first-hand just how much brilliant work is already going on up and down the country. I want to thank the many thousands of further education teachers doing fantastic jobs and changing lives.

“This investment is a clear signal of the government’s commitment to helping the FE sector to continue to recruit and retain excellent teachers who will help to unlock their students’ full potential.“

Kirsti Lord, Deputy Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said:

“Supporting FE providers to recruit and retain the best possible teachers must be a top priority for a government with ambitious plans for improving technical education in this country. We are delighted with the new investment from the Department for Education in the sector’s teaching workforce which our members will welcome – and we believe it marks an important step in giving FE teaching the recognition and support that it rightly deserves.”

James Noble-Rogers, Executive Director of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), said: 

“Teacher training providers will welcome this new investment in training high-quality teachers for the further education sector. The decision to extend the availability of pre-service training bursaries to a wider group of potential applicants in more subject areas is particularly welcome, and will help to ensure that more individuals can access high-quality teacher training programmes.”

The Taking Teaching Further programme was launched in 2018 to support further education providers to attract talented industry professionals to retrain as further education teachers so they can pass on their knowledge and expertise and help give more people the chance to secure a rewarding career.

Shaun McDonagh – Lecturer in Plumbing, EKC Group Broadstairs College:

“Taking Teaching Further has provided me with an excellent chance to be fully supported in making the change from industry to FE teaching. The extra time to learn, prepare and gain essential skills during my first year of teaching since leaving the plumbing trade to become a lecturer has been invaluable”

The government has also today confirmed that it will introduce plans to collect data on the FE workforce every year, starting in the next academic year. The move follows a consultation with the FE sector last year, which the government has now published its response to. The annual data collection will make sure the government has robust information on the FE workforce to enable a greater understanding of who makes up the FE sector.

An NUS spokesperson responded to this announcement:

“It’s great to see the government recognising the need to attract and retain talented staff in Further Education. We hope that this will be used for staff across further education, including teachers, pastoral staff and technicians, to recognise the value that many different roles bring to a students’ experience of further education.

“However, we have to be clear: the government is announcing this as if it is giving the Further Education sector new money. It’s not, and they’re not fooling us. This might be a step in the right direction, but the further education sector urgently needs the £1 billion cash injection that was recommended in the Augar Review in 2018, and we hope to see that included in the government’s comprehensive Spending Review.”

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