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Further Education Teacher

The role

Further Education, or FE Teachers, usually teach people over 16 years old.

They may teach academic courses, such as maths, science or history, at GCSE and A-Level standard. They could also teach vocational courses, preparing people for the workplace in a specific career, leading to their taking National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ). They may teach the 14 to 19 Diplomas in college, during which they will also be teaching 14 to 16 year-olds. And finally, they could teach courses for hobbies, such as photography, or a beginner’s language course.

They will specialise in and teach a particular subject, which will determine the environment and manner in which they teach – a classroom or a laboratory, for instance.

An FE Teacher would usually plan their lessons and the assignments they will set their pupils, organising the teaching materials used for them. They will plan exams, and keep track of their pupils’ progress. They’ll provide feedback and guidance to their students in order to help them improve.

 They will also carry out administrative work, such as keeping records and attending meetings.

A candidate could teach in a community or sixth-form college, an adult education centre, in a prison, a leisure centre or even in a work-based environment.

How to become a Further Education Teacher

An FE Teacher needs to have gained GCSEs in English, Maths and IT, as well as teaching qualifications that are recognised by Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK). They must also have gained qualifications in the subject they want to teach.

The level of qualification required is dependent on the subject taught – for academic subjects, this is usually degree level, while vocational courses would require a candidate to have achieved a minimum of level 3 in a qualification, such as NVQ Level 3.

At the start of their career, a candidate will take an introductory course – the Award in Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS), before going on to take further qualifications.

The minimum qualification to be a full FE teacher is the Level 5 Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS), which will result in a candidate achieving Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status.

In order to qualify as an associate teacher – a teacher that is only able to teach short courses on a one-on-one basis – a candidate must take the Level 3/4 Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (CTLLS). This qualification isn’t required for candidates wanting to become a fully qualified teacher through taking the Level 5 Diploma.

Courses can be taken on a full- or part-time basis, and are awarded by a number of organisations and universities. There are further details on the Standards Verification UK website (link below). 

Alternatively, individuals who are well qualified in the subject that they want to teach may be able to complete their teaching qualifications whilst working, if they find an institution that will employ and support them in their studies. They would need to do this in a set amount of time.

Please note that the QTLS is different from the Qualified Teaching Status (QTS), meaning candidates would be unable to teach in primary or secondary schools.

Skills and knowledge required

  • Strong knowledge of their subject and the ability to talk about it clearly to pupils at the level required
  • Enthusiasm for their subject
  • Excellent communication skills, both spoken and written
  • Organisation and time-management skills
  • Good sense of humour
  • The ability to plan and produce interesting lessons and materials for class


FE Teachers in colleges can earn £22,000 to £33,000, with those based in London often earning more. Those in more senior positions, such as management, can earn up to £80,000 a year.

The hours

FE Teachers often work an average full-time, 37-hour week, with 25 hours of this spent teaching.

Some may work part-time on a non-permanent basis, such as a course of adult’s evening classes over a set number of weeks.

Others may also work part-time on a permanent basis, which is known as ‘permanent fractional’ work, as they teach for a fraction of the week.

Useful websites - University and College Union (UCU) - Society for Education and Training

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