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Lost and Confused about FE and how to get started :S

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by 700W, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. I graduated from a literacy based PGCE in Post Compulsory Education and Training last year. I started off working for a private training company teaching unemployed adults and am now working for an FE college.

    You can either complete the course in-service where you secure employment or voluntary hours yourself and then study for the course part-time or you follow a pre-service route which is similar to a school based PGCE as the uni will arrange your placements for you. I completed a pre-service route which I believe made me a much more competent and confident tutor than when I started my first post.

    If you complete the pre-service route the funding works the same as studying for a degree, you are entitled to a loan for your tuition fees and living costs and some uni's also offer a grant. If you complete the in-service route you can apply for a £500 grant from the IfL and then make up the remaining fees yourself.

    Although there are not as many jobs in sixth form centres with a PCET PGCE you can teach for the prison service, FE colleges, private training providers, charities and community centres etc so there are a lot of opportunities out there.

  2. Hi Lost and Confused,

    I can't give you an overview, but I have recently been offered a job as a fractional lecturer at an FE college and I can tell you about my own experience in case it is helpful.

    I have a degree in English Literature and Language and I spent 15 years in business before deciding I wanted a career change. I self funded an intensive CELTA course in the summer of 2011 to qualify as an EFL teacher and I am currently halfway through a full time Masters in Translation Studies. My plan was to combine teaching with freelance translation work.

    The day after completing my CELTA, I rang around local private language schools and FE colleges finding out the names of the people I should be directing enquiries to. None of them had vacancies but all were happy to receive a CV and I secured an interview at a language school which ended with them assuring me that they would consider me should a vacancy arise. I submitted a speculative application form to join the ?pool? at the college that I am now about to join even though they had no vacancies and I got my name down at that college to study for a self-funded PTLLS course (PTTLS is the threshold diploma for teaching in the FE sector).

    I knew that my lack of experience of teaching was my biggest obstacle so I made sure that everyone I know, everyone my partner knows, everyone my mother knows - knew that I was looking for work. A friend of my mother alerted her to the fact that the university she works for was recruiting EFL teachers for their summer school. She put in a good word, I rang up, had a interview and got the job despite my lack of experience (I sent them copies of feedback from my CELTA teacher trainers and in short I was very, very keen!). Since September I have been teaching ESOL on a voluntary basis at a local charity that work with asylum seekers and refugees.

    Recently the college I have been doing PTLLS at advertised a post for a fractional lecturer of English within Functional Skills. The head of Skills for Life remembered me from my initial speculative enquiries and my PTTLS tutor put in a good word. I was invited for interview and they rang the same day to say that they wanted to offer me the post but that there were candidates with more experience so they were seeking the Director's permission to take on another candidate (me), presumably in addition to a better candidate with more experience. I got the good news a week later. At interview they suggested that ESOL work would be a strong possibility at a later date and that they I might ultimately teach GCSE English. My PTTLS tutor thinks that the college will fund me to do the two year in service PGCE PCE in September which is fantastic.

    Based on my (very limited) experience my top tips are:

    - Be really proactive. Don't just scan for job vacancies: ring around, make contact with people, ask if you can send a CV, tell them what you hope to do to address your lack of experience. After three months get in contact again, by email this time as it is less obtrusive, and update them on your progress and gently remind them of your existence.

    - Do anything to get experience; even if the travel/childcare costs mean you will effectively be working for nothing. You are getting the monkey off your back. Voluntary work is great fun, incredibly rewarding and another way of gaining that oh-so-important experience.

    Consider PTLLS: it only costs around £260 and will enable you to teach in FE. Once you have secured a job your college may well pay for you to gain further teaching qualifications.

    - Anyone could lead you to a job. Make sure everyone knows that you are looking, people generally like to help other people and you may get leads or assistance from the most unlikely sources.

    - Make every interaction with people connected to your job search count. Cheesy but true. Be unfailingly polite and pleasant, even with the receptionist who is tellingly you X doesn't take unsolicited calls. People do talk to each other. When I was in business it used to amaze me that sales reps were rude to my secretary and clearly hadn't considered that she might actually tell me. I have no time for people who are rude or bullying towards people they perceive to be too low in the pecking order to merit courtesy and I am sure other people take a similar view.

    - Be flexible; I was looking for EFL/ESOL work but I am looking forward to learning about and teaching English in the context of Functional Skills. I have been told that it is common in FE for people to get their break by taking on a different role to the one they anticipated.

    - Persist! I think that I've been very fortunate but the fact is the majority of my phone calls and applications did not yield any positive result. I was repeatedly warned that it is very difficult to get work in FE and that there are a lot of candidates with years of experience chasing the few permanent posts. That may be true but my case demonstrates that it is possible.

    I wish the very best of luck whichever route you choose. Please don't think that I am holding up my approach as a perfect model to others, I am just sharing my experiences and my take on what conclusions can be drawn from them.

    Kind regards

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