Teachers (often known as lecturers) in FEFC sector institutions or in adult education centres, are encouraged to undertake specialist training for further education teachers but this is not at present a statutory requirement. The Government is currently consulting on proposals to introduce compulsory teaching qualifications for further education teachers in England. It is expected that the new requirements will apply from 2001.
Further education institutions traditionally concentrated on providing vocational education, and teachers (usually called lecturers) were normally drawn from the world of commerce and industry to pass on their skills to the next generation of young people. Many teachers of vocational subjects still start teaching on a part-time basis while employed in industry or commerce. However, further education institutions increasingly provide academic (general) courses in addition to vocational courses. Many teachers of academic subjects have the teaching qualification required to become a schoolteacher qualified teacher status (QTS), having been previously employed in a school or having been employed by a “sixth-form college” during the period when Schools Regulations applied (prior to the implementation of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992).
The Government is currently consulting on proposals to introduce compulsory teaching qualifications for further education teachers in England. It is expected that the new requirements will apply from 2001.
Specific legislative framework
There is at present no legal obligation for teachers in further education to undertake initial training. However, the Education (Teachers) Regulations 1993 state that ‘the staff or teachers employed at a further education institution shall have qualifications appropriate to the giving of adequate instruction in the subjects in which courses are provided’. The Regulations also specify the requirements in terms of health standards and good conduct.
As the initial training of “further education” teachers is not as yet a statutory requirement, further education institutions, (local education authorities in the case of adult education centres) determine their own requirements concerning staff qualifications and training.
However, the Government is currently consulting on proposals to introduce compulsory teaching qualifications for further education teachers in England. These will be based on national standards for teaching developed by the Further Education National Training Organisation (FENTO, 1999). FENTO was recently established as the national leadership body responsible for the development, quality assurance and promotion of national standards for the FE sector. It is one of around 80 UK-wide National Training Organisation (NTOs), employer led organisations established to promote competitiveness by raising education and training standards in the industries and occupations they represent. FENTO replaces the FE Staff Development Forum (FESDF). It is governed by a council of 30 members drawn from a wide range of backgrounds including FE colleges, industry, government and trade unions.
Institutions responsible for FE initial teacher training
Specialist courses for intending teachers in further education, adult education or community education are provided by further education institutions and higher education institutions.
In England and Wales, intending teachers in further education (FE) and adult education are normally required to attend an interview to assess their suitability for teaching and to satisfy the medical requirements. Applicants for courses leading to the Postgraduate certificate in Education (FE) must normally have a degree or equivalent in their specialist subject and approved work-experience relating to their specialisation in industry, trade, business or the community. The City and Guilds Further and Adult Education Teachers’ Certificate attracts both intending and practising teachers. Applicants must normally have a level of general education and a command of English which are sufficient for the successful completion of the course and have qualifications and approved work experience relating to their specialisation in industry, trade, business or the community.
Curriculum, duration of training
The most common qualifications in England and Wales are the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (FE) and the Further and Adult Education Teachers’ Certificate. The curriculum and duration of courses vary according to the qualification and specialisation concerned. The following are given as examples.
a) The Postgraduate certificate in Education (FE)
In England and Wales, these qualifications may be obtained after successfully completing one year of full-time study (or its part-time equivalent) of educational principles and their application to the teaching of specialist subjects. All students spend 11 weeks teaching their subject in colleges. The courses are intended to develop teaching abilities by fostering practical skills and providing the necessary theoretical framework. Serving teachers may be admitted to in-service courses or “day-release courses”.
b) The Further and Adult Education Teachers’ Certificate
In England and Wales, courses leading to this qualification are offered on a part-time basis in daytime or evening classes, to meet the needs of students, and normally involve 170 hours of contact time, including practical teaching. This training may be spread over one or two years. Teachers who are already employed may carry out their practical teaching with their normal classes and colleges provide practical teaching opportunities for those who are not employed as teachers at that time.
Training involves both theoretical and practical elements. Courses may be offered on a full-time, part-time or day-release course basis. Practical teaching experience is an essential element in all courses.
The assessment of students’ performance for these qualifications is, like other teaching qualifications, increasingly based on demonstrated competences, and the practical teaching component is a particularly important part of the assessment.