Insights from FE providers and individual teaching staff and leaders about their teaching and leadership workforce 

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

“This is one of the biggest surveys of the FE workforce ever undertaken and it illustrates the incredible expertise and experience within it.

“The quality of the FE profession is a crucial factor in ensuring the success of our reforms to technical education and we hope these findings will help show a wider picture and understanding of the demographics and views of staff that do such important work for young people and adults across the country.”

While this particular survey will not be repeated year-on-year, we are introducing a single ESFA-led data collection of the FE workforce which will be mandatory from academic year 2021/22. This will include full coverage of all provider types in the FE sector.

Transforming the Further Education (FE) sector is at the heart of government plans to improve social mobility, raise productivity and increase economic growth through improving technical skills (traditionally delivered through FE) to strengthen the nation’s industrial base and performance.

With this in mind, the Department for Education (DfE) commissioned IFF Research to deliver the Education and Training Professionals (ETP) Survey 2019. All Independent Training Providers (ITPs), Adult and Community Learning (ACL) providers and Sixth Form Colleges (SFCs) receiving funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) in England were in-scope for the research.

The study addresses the evidence gap on workforce data available to DfE and the wider sector on teaching staff and leaders in ITPs, ACL providers and SFCs in England. It also provides insights into the experience, qualifications and expectations of teachers and leaders in these parts of the FE sector and explores recruitment and retention issues. It is based on a similar survey of teachers and leaders conducted among general and specialist FE colleges and their staff in the College Staff Survey in 2018.

The research involved two components: a telephone survey of Human Resource (HR) managers or their equivalents, such as a senior manager with responsibility for staffing issues; and an online survey of other leaders and of teaching staff. Leaders were defined as those members of staff who selected ‘senior management team’ or ‘middle and junior manager’, which included managers of ‘departments, divisions, units, teams or functions’. Teaching staff in SFCs and ACL providers most commonly used the terms ‘teacher or tutor’ to describe their role, whereas ITPs appeared to deploy a greater range of titles including ‘teacher or tutor’, ‘trainer or instructor’ and ‘specialist assessor or verifier’.

Given the range of descriptions used by staff in ITPs, the report uses the over-arching phrase ‘teaching staff’ to refer to any member of staff involved in teaching or assessing students in ITPs. The main stage was informed by cognitive testing and piloting between April and July 2019. Fieldwork began in August 2019 (in ITPs) and September 2019 (in ACL providers and SFCs) and finished in November 2019. In total, 582 providers took part in the organisation-level survey, giving an overview of their staff numbers and contractual composition, deployment across programme and subject areas, and recruitment issues.

This represents 50% of the population of ESFA-funded providers in the relevant subsectors, comprising of 473 ITPs, 78 ACL providers and 31 SFCs. For the online survey, 1,303 individual members of teaching staff and/or leaders took part. The staff data has been weighted to account for non-response amongst different staff characteristics (where relevant).

The authors would like to thank all of the senior staff in Independent Training Providers, Adult and Community Learning providers, and Sixth Form Colleges that facilitated the Education and Training Professionals Survey 2020 by taking part in the organisation level survey, and distributed the survey link to their relevant teaching, training and assessment staff on our behalf.

We would also like to thank all of the individual teachers, trainers and assessment staff, who gave their valuable time to complete the online survey or take part in a qualitative interview.

Finally, we would like to express our thanks to Rosie Chalam-Judge, Helen Wood, Ben Rockliffe, Ginny Howles and Richard Garrett at the Department for Education, as well as the members of the study’s Advisory Group and other representatives from the AELP, SFCA and HOLEX, for their advice and support throughout the project.


The education and training professionals survey: research report September 2020

Ref: ISBN 978-1-83870-123-9, DFE-RR994PDF, 1.75MB, 94 pages

The education and training professionals survey: technical report September 2020

Ref: ISBN 978-1-83870-122-2, DFE-RR994PDF, 1.66MB, 126 pages


This report provides findings from a survey of independent training providers, adult and community learning providers and sixth form colleges receiving funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency in England.

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