Becoming a teacher

This page covers:

  • What is teaching and training?

  • Support for teachers and trainers

  • What to teach

  • Where to teach

  • How to teach
  • Skills needed to teach

  • Professional standards for teachers and trainers

  • Teaching qualifications

  • Teacher training courses

  • Applying for a teaching position

  • Websites advertising teaching jobs


What is teaching and training all about?

The further education and training 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.

The sector is often wanting skilled people to teach and train learners in various vocational subjects. Perhaps you are a plumber, a hairdresser, or a motor vehicle engineer and you wish to pass on your expertise. Read down the page for more details of how to become a teacher.

Teaching and training is about helping someone reach their full potential, whether this is for personal or professional reasons. You will do this by facilitating the teaching, learning and assessment process. 

As a teacher, you will 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 someone perform a new skill, acquire new knowledge, gain a qualification or even a promotion at work.

Check out this page for FAQs for new teachers.

Support for teachers and trainers

  • Online modules for teaching and training can be found by clicking here.

  • Resources to support teachers and learners of the teaching qualifications can be found by clicking here.

  • Tips for teachers can be seen by clicking here

  • Videos can be seen by clicking here.

  • A free online course from the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) is available to introduce you to a career in FE teaching. Just click here.

  • A Teachers' Guide to Cybersecurity can be found by clicking here.

  • There is a free online introductory course to teaching in FE from the ETF.

  • A free guide regarding managing behaviour in colleges can be downloaded from UNISON here.

  • You can sign up for free behaviour management emails from Pivotal Behaviour Training here.

  • The mental health and emotional well-being of teachers is important. Information can be accessed here from the ETF.

  • Scroll down the page for job weblinks.

  • If you are on Twitter, you can join in a community of practice with @FETeacherEd


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 just 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. However, this is not always the case as some subjects don't have a higher level qualification.

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. If you are teaching towards a particular qualification, the qualification specification from the awarding organisation will state what qualifications and experience you must have. You should be able to search online to find the specification and it will state what qualifications and/or experience is required. 

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, be employed by an agency to work at different organisations, or volunteer your services for free, for example, for a charity.

  • If you are considering taking an online teaching course, check out these tips to help you find a legitimate provider.
  • You can find lots of advice from the Education and Training Foundation regarding becoming an FE teacher.
  • The DfE has some useful information about becoming a teacher in FE here.

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 need to consider is how learning will take place, not just how you will teach your subject.

If you can use a variety of approaches and activities, this will give your learners more chances to be involved, to 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, provide feedback to them and evaluate what you have done.

If you are due to be observed as part of your teaching practice, you can find lots of information to help you here.

Skills needed to teach

Ideally, you need to have skills that will help you to 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 with honesty and integrity.

Professional standards for teachers and trainers

The Education and Training Foundation have a set of Professional Standards for further education teachers and trainers in England. You might like to take a look at them to see what you can aspire to achieve, or to self-assess your current practice.

It's possible to gain professional teacher status (QTLS) once you are a qualified teacher at level 5 or above. This has parity with QTS status if you wish to teach in a school in the future.

Teaching qualifications

In 2013, the Government removed the requirement for teachers in the FE, skills and training sector to be qualified (in England). It’s now the responsibility of the individual employer to make the decision as to what teaching qualifications their staff should hold. However, most people in a teaching or training role will want to be qualified, 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 you 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 (or Cert Ed/PGCE) require you to have teaching practice hours (30 and 100 respectively). You can find out about these qualifications here.

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

Teacher training courses

You could also join relevant Facebook and LinkedIn groups to ask for recommendations of courses in your local area or online. 

Do check out these tips for finding a legitimate provider before you sign up for a course.

Please contact me if any of the above links no longer work. 

Applying for a teaching position 

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 for your particular subject. 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 training course at the moment, you could talk to your 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 taught in your subject area. This will help you to 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, try and 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 funding, 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 funding and outcomes.

Websites advertising teaching jobs

You might find it useful to look at the websites listed below for possible jobs. The sites are not endorsed by me, they are for your information, and I recommend that you check their legitimacy before agreeing to anything.

Most offer a sign-up service for updates when any jobs in your specialist subject and location are advertised.

There will also be relevant forums on social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook which you might like to join. 

Please contact me if any of these links no longer work.

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