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.