Two-thirds of parents ‘interested’ in FE teaching career – but not told about stunted salaries

Survey finds FE teaching is 'the perfect career pivot' for working parents interested in flexible work

Survey finds FE teaching is 'the perfect career pivot' for working parents interested in flexible work

Parents quizzed on the appeal of a career in further education teaching were kept in the dark about the sector’s typically low salaries by government researchers.

A survey by the Department for Education for its Teach in FE campaign revealed two thirds of working parents said teaching in the sector would “appeal to them”.

But the seven-question survey did not mention the sector’s typically low salaries, which colleges often cite as a key reason why they struggle to recruit and retain staff.

Teachers in FE are paid much less than teachers in schools, with an average salary gap of nearly around £7,000 between school and FE college teachers.

Government data shows that in 2021/22 year, the median average salary for FE college teaching staff was £33,400, in comparison to £40,251 in schools. And in private training providers, teachers are paid £28,100 a year on average.

Strikes over low pay have meanwhile broken out in colleges throughout England in recent years, with staff at 32 colleges voting to walk out in a union vote just earlier this month.

The DfE’s survey, which was answered by 1,002 working parents in England, showed that seven in ten see work life balance as the most important factor when choosing a job, while 43 per cent said they look for flexible working hours.

Around a quarter of the parents said they are most interested in a job where they could use their existing skills. The survey found 95 per cent already have the industry experience colleges require.

That makes FE teaching “the perfect career pivot for working parents interested in exploring roles connected to their field that offer the potential for part-time and flexible opportunities”, the survey said.

Asked why the DfE’s researchers didn’t include information about pay in their survey, a DfE spokesperson said: “We were exploring the perspectives and motivations of prospective FE teachers, with a specific focus on how teaching in FE could be an opportunity for those seeking more flexibility within their current industries.”

The DfE launched the multi-million pound Teach in FE campaign in January 2022 to get skilled workers to take up part-time teaching roles in FE, in a bid to tackle the widespread skills shortages in the sector. The department launched a new website as part of the campaign and said TV, radio and social media would also be used to tackle the staff shortages.

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  1. And let’s not forget that in those average figures, anyone on a sessional or zero hours contract is excluded from that average.

    Just over 20% of staff in General FE colleges are on zero hours contracts.

    Zero hours contracts have inferior pay and conditions to permanent staff.

    So, the ‘real’ average will be lower than what is reported.

    It would be tragic to see resources wasted to entice new blood into the sector, only for goodwill and motivation to evaporate when they realise they are undervalued.

    DfE would do better by upping funding rates, to allow pay increases and avoid wasting money on shiny marketing campaigns.

    It could also take some heat off AOC who have gone ‘post truth’ in trying to convince people that a 6.8% recommended pay award will close the pay gap with schools, when basic mathematics proves that is not the case!

    £40,251 School teacher pay versus £33,400 in FE. Which is a £6,851 gap.

    Apply 6.8% to both.

    £42,988 & £35,671. Which is a £7,317 gap.

    (and that’s before you factor in the effect of zero hours contracts, which are much less prevalent in schools.)

  2. Albert Wright

    I am more concered about ITPs, where teachers earn even lower wages ” teachers are paid £28,100 a year on average.”

    I understand that ITPs deliver over 50% of apprenticeships, and they do not get government funding for capital projects while colleges and schools do.

    Either colleges and schools are very inefficient providers or ITPs are remarkable.

    In a market economy, where school teachers are the best paid group for helping young people learn, it is not surprising schools are not good promoters of apprenticeships to their students

    • And that is where it starts to get really interesting.

      You could be forgiven for believing that the lack of parity of treatment across different providers types is a deliberate strategy. It ensures no one can ever be held accountable for shortcomings in policy.

      The finger can be pointed at some ITPs for making a profit.

      The finger can be pointed at some Colleges for being inefficient.

      The non profit making ITPs and the efficient colleges get caught in the crossfire.

      The DFE get their strings pulled by politicians but pretend they have autonomy.

      Then every time there is a cabinet shuffle or change in government a little bit of short term tinkering occurs and a shiny new initiative gets wheeled out.

      But protectionism and self preservation across the different corners of the sector means nobody dares to try and fix it.