With the increasing focus on retraining and acquiring new skills, Further Education (FE), the widest educational field in UK, has never been more important. The goal of FE is to provide young people with high-quality technical and vocational education and to prepare students with useful job skills to help improve their employment prospects, thus enhancing local, regional and international economies (General Further Education colleges, 2021).

There are 244 Further Education colleges across England. They prepare 2.2 million students with valuable employability skills, helping to develop their career opportunities (College Key Facts 2019/20, 2021). FE colleges offer a diverse range of provision for students from 14 up to adults of any age. They offer Higher Education, including undergraduate and post graduate programmes, apprenticeships, STEM, academic (A’ Levels and GCSE), vocational and technical provision.

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) was founded by the sector in 2013 to standardise and oversee the workforce development for Further Education. According to the Institute for Learning (IFL) the single most important influential factor that determines a positive outcome for all learners is the quality of teaching and training. Based on the ETF IFL research conducted in 2014 (What needs to be done to promote teaching in further education as an attractive career option to top graduates and well-qualified industry professionals?, 2021) FE does not have a well-known high-profile national graduate recruitment scheme currently. Teaching is also second career to most teachers in FE and the decision to become a teacher comes at different points in people’s lives. Teaching can be very challenging in Further Education due to the diversity and past educational experience of the learners, thus attracting motivated and talented graduates and industry professionals is key.

Workforce recruitment has always been on the forefront of the ETFs work and thus they developed a recruitment initiative Talent to Teach in FE (T2TFE), which encourages second year, final year undergraduates and postgraduate students to consider the opportunities in FE.

The Talent to Teach FE (T2TFE) programme (now run across England) aims to raise the profile of Further Education (FE) by offering second year undergraduates, final year undergraduates and postgraduate students the opportunity to experience FE first-hand in local colleges or independent training providers through a 40-hour placement, with the hope that it will entice them to choose teaching as their career.

 

The impact of Talent to Teach in Further Education

A total of 287 student placements were completed in the three terms, when the Talent to Teach in Further Education (T2TFE) programme was first delivered by Cognition Education, commencing in April 2018 and finishing in March 2019. Upon conducting an impact survey, 91 students responded to provide further information about their experience while partaking in the programme.

97% (88 out of 91) of respondents reported that participating in the Talent to Teach in Further Education (T2TFE) increased their knowledge of Further Education (FE).

T2TFE increased Participants knowledge of Further Education
(T2TFE Evaluation Report, June 2020)

Also, more than half (48 out of 91 or 53%) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that participating in the T2TFE programme had convinced them to enter a career in Further Education (FE).

Would you in future consider teaching in FE?
(T2TFE Impact Report, 2019)

Students gave the following responses to explain how the Talent to Teach in FE (T2TFE) programme had impacted their career decisions:

  • “I am now enrolled on a PGCE course, wanting to be a teacher in the Further Education (FE) sector.”
  • “I was already set on this before the placement. The placement simply strengthened my resolve.”
  • “I have joined a college who supports Further Education and helps students in their work experience.”
  • “I had not considered working in Further Education, but it is now a possibility.”
  • “I have finished my study course and I am now looking for a teaching role in College or University.”
  • “This work placement has made me reconsider working in the Further Education sector.”
  • “This experience has helped me make up my mind to start teaching privately before college level.”
  • “The placement that I have attend has been very helpful in building my career in education sector.”
  • “I am now on a PGCE course because of this programme.”
  • “I got a job at the college as a tutor!”

100% (25 out of 25) of the Further Education placement providers said their motivation to engage with the programme was to help raise the profile of Further Education or teaching in FE. Half of the providers agreed to engage with the programme to support with workforce development.

 

Classroom experience

The Further Education (FE) providers were given free reign with what they deem appropriate for students to experience as long as it provided a high quality, holistic but realistic experience of what a teacher role in FE looks like.

The students experienced a range of activities, including working with learners in the classrooms/workshops and getting involved with lesson planning and marking. They also benefitted from a structured programme, including ongoing mentoring, throughout their placement.

How did the experience of the programme develop students’ knowledge and insight into a career in teaching?

Following multiple students agreeing to be case studies, we have analysed the data and established that the Talent to Teach in Further Education programme had a very positive impact on developing students’ insight into a teaching career, with 100% students confirming their knowledge has improved.

The programme gave students insight into all aspects of learning and not just a teacher’s perspective, which ensured the placement would offer a realistic experience of what the role would look like in real life, should they pursue it.

The experience also helped students who felt they were not confident enough to teach in a Further Education (FE) environment by assuring they had adequate support and encouragement during their placements.

Students were also required to fill in a reflective journal whilst on placement. This improved their communication and organisation skills, enabling them to fully take in what they had learnt.

  • “This [programme] allowed me to see all aspects of the learning experience and not just a teacher’s perspective. I was able to see what ‘worked’ and what didn’t to engage learners in the information being taught. Also, the Level 3 Award in Education and Training course provided by Cognition Education was even more insightful and complimented the placement well.”
  • “I believe this experience developed both my knowledge and insight into a career in teaching as I was involved in tasks which all members of the provider had to do daily. Therefore, this assured me that everything I was learning and observing on this placement was a real-life example of what my job would entail, should I choose to teach within the Further Education sector.”

 

Entering the Further Education sector following the placement

Not only did the placement enhance the participants employability skills and improve their interpersonal skills, as well as build relationships with the providers, 54% of the participants have agreed that the opportunity has convinced them to enter into a career in Further Education (FE).

“Once I have finished my degree next year, I would be happy to either go on to another course in education and training, or even better to find a job within the sector (that is fairly close by) in order to continue to train as a Further Education teacher.”

Angela Royle

BSc English Literature student, placement at College of Exeter

“As I am still completing my PhD, I have not yet applied for a job within Further Education. However, I’m eager to gain further first-hand experience of working with learners in the FE sector.”

Elsie Linley

PhD Latin Literature, placement student at Cambridge Regional College

“Whilst I was completing the programme, I was searching for a part time role within the Further Education sector, however, there did not happen to be any available, so I was unable to secure a role. I did, however, manage to secure a part time role with my old Primary School so, I was still happy I found a role within an educational setting as this will no doubt be invaluable experience and helpful towards my future career goals.”

Nikita Sowan

MA Global Public Policy, placement student at Juniper Training Walsall

For more information on the Talent to Teach in Further Education programme, visit our expertise page.

References

Association of Colleges. 2021. General further education colleges. [online] Available at: <https://www.aoc.co.uk/general-further-education-colleges> [Accessed 8 February 2021].

  1. College Key Facts 2019/20. [ebook] Association of Colleges. Available at: <https://www.aoc.co.uk/sites/default/files/AoC%20College%20Key%20Facts%202019-20.pdf> [Accessed 8 February 2021].

Et-foundation.co.uk. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.et-foundation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Talent-to-Teach-Evaluation-Report-June-2020.pdf> [Accessed 8 February 2021].

Et-foundation.co.uk. 2021. What needs to be done to promote teaching in further education as an attractive career option to top graduates and well-qualified industry professionals?. [online] Available at: <https://www.et-foundation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/2014_03-premium-graduate-recruitment_short.pdf> [Accessed 8 February 2021].