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Qualifications required to teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector - further and adult education, sixth form colleges, and work-based learning

Please also refer to the 2013 guidance for employers: Training to teach in the lifelong learning sector (244kb PDF)

There are specific qualifications if you want to teach in the lifelong learning sector. Teachers in this sector can work towards professional status - Qualified Teacher in Learning and Skills (QTLS) though there is not a requirement to do so. QTLS is not the same as the qualification/status required to teach in schools (Qualified Teacher Status QTS).

Teaching qualifications in this sector are generic rather than specific to a particular subject. However, if you are interested in teaching Skills for Life/Functional Skills (literacy, numeracy and ESOL – English for speakers of other languages) there are also subject specialist qualifications - see section below.

What are generic teaching qualifications?

For those wishing to enter into teaching there may be various routes available, so advice should be sought from training providers (colleges and universities) and potential employers. Teachers with existing qualifications don't need to undertake the new qualifications introduced in September 2013.

A teacher training course will help to develop the range of skills teachers require (in addition to knowledge of the subject) such as planning and delivery. Employers are likely to require a relevant qualification (or expect staff new to teaching to undertake a related course) to maintain the high quality and standards of teaching within their college or organisation.

The qualifications includes a level 3 award, a level 4 certificate and a level 5 diploma.

Level 3 Award in Education and Training
This course covers the basics of teaching in the sector and may be a useful introduction to teaching if you are unsure about whether or not teaching is for you. As there is no minimum teaching practice requirement, it is suitable for those who are not yet in a teaching role. The Level 3 Award is usually delivered as either a part-time course (usually one day/evening a week for 13 or more weeks).

Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training
The certificate course is for those working or wishing to work in a teacher or training role in further, adult or continuing education. It focuses on practical teaching skills and there is a requirement to have 30 hours teaching practice for this course.

Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training
This is a full teaching qualification. (Universities and colleges may offer the Cert Ed or PGCE). It can usually be taken over one year on a full-time basis or part-time over two years (usually over a half day or one evening a week). The part-time route is designed for those already working as a teacher, as there is a requirement to have a placement/teaching hours throughout the course.

What if I’m not yet in teaching?

It is not necessary to hold a teaching qualification before you start working in the lifelong learning sector. If you are not already in teaching, you should decide what you want to teach and have or make sure you get appropriate experience in that field, along with at least a level 3 vocational qualification related to the subject you want to teach (or a degree level qualification if you want to teach an academic subject).

Do I need to gain full professional status?

Previously, teachers in this sector were required to be fully qualified and gain professional status within five years. Since 2013, it is the responsibility of the employer to determine what qualifications their teaching staff should hold/undertake.

It is worth noting that there may be quite a bit of competition for adult education teaching roles. You may be in a better position if you have a relevant teaching qualification.

Teacher Training Provision for 2016/17
(98kb PDF)

Is there any funding?

You should contact the course provider regarding the course fees and any funding or concessions that may be available.
Fees for courses may vary. If you are:

a new teacher taking a part-time in-service course, your employer may contribute to the cost of your training.
intending to do a full-time, pre-service course, you may be able to apply for student finance.
a graduate, you may be eligible for a Further Education Initial Teacher Training Bursary. Bursary levels will vary according to the degree classification held by the trainee and the specialism in which they wish to train to teach ie English language, maths (from basic to GCSE and level 3), or supporting learners with special educational needs. Trainees must have at least an honours degree to access a bursary for maths, and at least a 2:1 degree for the English language or SEN bursaries. - see further education initial teacher training bursary guide academic year
on a level 3 or 4 course, depending on the your circumstances; the course and the provider, you may be able to apply for a 24+ Advanced Learning Loans Student finance for full-time students


What if I want to teach literacy, numeracy (Functional Skills) or ESOL or work in learner support?

To become a Skills for Life/Functional Skills teacher you are likely to need a level 3 qualification in the subject you wish to teach, a teaching qualification and a higher level subject specialist qualification. Depending on your experience and qualifications, you could follow one of the routes listed below:


An integrated subject specific programme - which will cover both full teaching and subject specific requirements
A generic Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector and a subject specific diploma
A subject specific diploma for teachers of literacy, numeracy or ESOL (for those already holding a generic teaching Diploma/Cert Ed qualification)


Useful links:

FE Advice
Information and Advice Service E: T: 0300 303 1877
Excellence Gateway
Society for Education and Training
Skills for Life Network
FE Jobs

Times Educational Supplement

Guardian Education
Learning and Work Institute (formerley NIACE, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education and the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, CESI)
Student Finance England T: 0300 100 0607


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