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FE should target teachers turned off by the 'behaviour dimension' in schools

The FE sector should increase its recruitment of trainee teachers by targeting graduates who “don’t want to teach children”, according to a leading figure in the sector.

More should be done to entice university students to a career teaching in FE, according to David Russell, chief executive of the Education and Training Foundation (ETF). While recruiting graduates to teach in schools is already a well-established career path, Mr Russell told TES that the more “adult environment” in colleges would be better suited to many teachers.

Promoting FE as an alternative setting for teaching without the difficulties posed by younger pupils’ “emotional immaturity” could also help reduce drop-out rates among trainees, he added.

“The government pours a huge amount of money into promoting school teaching, and rightly so,” Mr Russell said.

“But there are just as many potential FE teachers, I think, coming out of universities and looking to career changes from other walks of life. All the rewards of teaching are there, but in an adult environment.”

Some graduates, Mr Russell added, were put off teaching in schools by the “behaviour dimension”.

“There’s always that reorientation when people, especially young graduates, realise this is not an academic pursuit, this is about your students… In FE there are different characters, different types of students," he said.

“The biggest reason for the drop-out of people going into the school teaching route is that, one way or another, they realise they don’t want to teach children. It’s not that they’ve gone their subject or have gone off the vocation… but quite a large number of people are lost to the profession altogether.”

Earlier this month, TES revealed that the ETF is establishing three pilots of a Teach First-style graduate recruitment programme for the FE sector.

FE providers, Mr Russell said, should also reach out to university teacher-training courses to “plant the thought” about teaching in the sector in graduates’ minds.

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, welcomed Mr Russell’s intervention.

“The reason that schools are more popular with graduates is that there’s better marketing, and the pay and conditions are better [in schools than colleges],” he said.

“There have been moves to achieve parity of esteem [between the sectors], but with the deregulation in FE and the ending of the requirement that teachers be qualified, this has taken a backward step. The more people we can get teaching in FE, the better.”

Last month, it was announced by the government that up to £20 million was being set aside to encourage the “brightest and the best” to teach maths in FE colleges in England.

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