What is Further Education teaching?

Someone working within further education will typically teach a range of subjects in one of three main areas, including vocational training, academic teaching or basic skills.

  • Vocational training includes apprenticeships and courses/qualifications involving preparing students for work and ensuring they have up-to-date skills for the work area they are looking to get into.

  • Academic teaching includes a range of academic qualifications, mainly at GCSE and A Level.

  • Basic skills may include areas such as numeracy, literacy and ESOL - English for speakers of other languages. Qualifications associated with these areas may include Functional Skills.

There may also be the opportunity to teach recreational courses that support personal interest areas, such as languages, creative activities or local history.

Whilst within further education teaching you will mainly work with post-16 and/or adult learners, you may also be expected to work with students aged 14 to 19 who are studying vocational subjects.

Work in this area can take place in a variety of settings and may include a general or specialist FE college; a sixth form college; an adult and community education centre; a university; a prison or youth offender organisation; voluntary and charity organisations; and/or work-based learning.

This information has been sourced from prospects.ac.uk.

The Education and Training Foundation website also offers extensive information about professional development and support for those considering a career in Further Education. This video provides a good overview of what The Education and Training Foundation is and the support it can offer.

What do you need to be a Further Education teacher?

You are able to get into further education teaching without a formal teaching qualification, however, you will probably be expected to work towards one as part of your job role. Having a relevant qualification will stand you in better stead to secure a role, but individual institutions/organisations will have their own requirements. Please see the training routes section below.

Many vocational and skills areas within further education will benefit from the candidate having relevant work experience in their chosen subject area; however essential to all teaching candidates will be a key skills set that includes:

  • The ability to work well with a range of people;

  • Excellent organisation skills;

  • Team work;

  • Expertise in a particular area or areas;

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills;

  • Excellent presentation skills.

This information has been sourced from TARGETjobs.

Getting experience

Across all levels and areas of teaching, we would advise aiming to gain some experience within an educational environment before embarking on a specific teacher training route.

This may be more about establishing what age group you are interested in working with, but further education also presents different challenges to other levels of teaching.

Any experience you gain should enable you to demonstrate excellent written and verbal communication skills, interpersonal skills and the ability to relate to students of all ages and abilities, organisation and planning skills and enthusiasm, motivation and commitment to teach in your chosen subject or professional area.

In 2018 there was a new government programme - Talent to Teach in FE - introduced to offer undergraduates a holistic experience of Further Education; providing the opportunity to get a feel for the environment, attend meetings and observe the collaborative approaches taken in FE colleges, in addition to shadowing lessons. Further information is available through the Education and Training Foundation website.

Training routes

The FE Advice website is a key resource for anyone looking to work within the further education sector in England. The information provided covers details about becoming a teacher, incentives for training, qualifications, the Society for Education and Training (SET), the variety of the sector and most of what you need to know as a new entrant or an existing worker. FE Advice also have a dedicated advice line to offer further support - you can call 0300 303 1877 or email on feadviceline@etfoundation.co.uk if you have any specific questions.

Within the education sector, FE is the most deregulated area with the largest variety of ages of learners served and a wide range of qualifications available. All regulation has been removed and it is up to individual college heads and/or organisations as to which qualifications they require. It will be important to clarify directly with individual employers whether or not you are a suitable candidate based on your qualification level.

Qualifications are available at different levels. These include:

  • The Level 3 Award in Education and Training which provides an introduction to the area, without the requirement for a placement - 12 credits.This course can be completed before working in a teaching role.

  • The Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training - 36 credits - requires you to have at least 30 hours of teaching practice and enables learners to develop practical teaching skills.

  • The Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training - 120 credits - is the recognised, full teaching qualification for the sector and requires learners to have a minimum of 100 hours of teaching practice. This course also allows the opportunity to take a specialist pathway in literacy, ESOL, mathematics or working with students with special educational needs (SEN). There is the opportunity to go straight onto this level of qualification without completing the Level 3 or 4.

  • There are also Level 5 specialist qualifications available for teachers of English, Maths, English for Speakers of other Languages (ESOL) and for teachers working in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) - 120 credits.

These qualifications are offered by FE colleges and other training providers on a full or part-time basis. In order to secure a place on a course, it will be a requirement that you have a qualification or experience in the subject you want to teach. If you wish to teach an academic course, for instance, you will typically need a degree. Whereas, for vocational subject areas you will need an appropropriate level of vocational qualification (a minimum of Level 3) alongside professional experience.

The PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) in post-compulsory education is a common route into this professional area for recent graduates. Courses will be offered on a full time or part-time basis. This will include the requirements of the Level 5 course outlined above, in addition to units at a higher level, potentially up to Level 7. You will need a degree in the subject area you are looking to teach.

The School of Education and Sociology at the University of Portsmouth specifically offers a Further Education and Training PGCE. Find out more.

You also have the option of taking a Cert Ed (Certificate in Education) - this also meets the Level 5 requirements, but does not require a degree. With this route you will need a Level 3 qualification in the area you wish to teach and/or extensive experience.

Unfortunately, there is not a central site in this area that lists all courses, however, a number of courses do use the UCAS Teacher Training application system and the FE Advice website also offers further information about qualifications available.

This information has been sourced from prospects.ac.uk.


Funding for the different qualifications outlined above will vary depending on the nature of the route and training undertaken. It is advisable to check all funding requirements directly with the course provider.

However, bursaries are likely to be available if you are looking to teach in Mathematics or English. The amount you will receive will be dependent on the subject and your degree classification. Find out more information from the FE Advice website.

Additional funding

Means-tested, non-repayable maintenance or special support grants may be available depending on individual circumstances.

Repayable maintenance loans may be available for one year courses. For more information, please visit the Education and Training Foundation website.

Application process

Applications for the teacher training routes into Further Education are likely to vary, depending on the route you are looking to take.

Some courses will be listed through the UCAS Teacher Training application system, however, other opportunities, including specific positions and training opportunities may involve a direct application to an institution or organisation. These will be posted on institution’s websites and/or advertised through recruitment sites - please see the information below.

You may be required to produce a personal statement as part of your application for teacher training - more information can be found in the ‘Planning and writing your Personal Statement for postgraduate Teacher Training’ section below.

As part of the selection process, you are likely to have an interview before being offered a place on a teacher training programme. As with any interview, preparation is key and the information offered on UCAS, Get into Teaching, Targetjobs, and Prospects websites around typical interview questions, and the skills and qualities providers might be looking to test at interview, may be helpful. A mock interview with a Careers Adviser can be arranged through the Careers and Employability Service to build your confidence and strengthen your interview skills.

Getting a job once qualified

Depending on the area of work you are looking to get into and the subject you are looking to specialise in, this will impact on the type of organisation you are looking for and the resources you utilise to support you with your job search.

Across the UK there are Further Education colleges - many of whom will run learning centres out in the community, including from public buildings such as community centres, libraries, schools and commercial premises. Some local authorities may also oversee adult education services - this will typically be in collaboration with colleges.

Sixth form colleges also exist in some areas of the UK, excluding Scotland. Some will be privately run and will often specialise in a particular vocational area.

Adult, community and vocational education may also take place across different sectors, including within the prison service, the armed forces or in private company’s training departments. Examples of work in this area may include government work-based training schemes.

Another area to consider will be within voluntary and charitable institutions, including the potential to work abroad as a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) teacher.

Websites to support you with your job search

Searching directly on individual college’s websites and using specialist recruitment agencies, such as Protocol, may also support your job search strategy.

This information has been sourced from prospects.ac.uk.

It may also be of interest to note that if you are a school teacher looking to move into Further Education, QTS holders are regarded as fully qualified, so they can move straight across. You will need to be able to demonstrate familiarity with the curriculum and that they can deliver to the relevant age group.

However, as an FE teacher moving into schools to be paid as a qualified teacher you will typically need QTLS. This type of move may be common with vocational areas, mainly found in Further Education, including psychology and business studies.

This information has been sourced from prospects.ac.uk.