The article provides a simple overview on Continuing Professional Development in the Further Education industry, the various CPD requirements, the difference between further education and higher education, as well as the types of CPD courses that are available.
Further Education (FE) and Training
Further education – abbreviated to FE – in the United Kingdom is a means to attain an intermediate, advanced or follow-up qualification necessary to progress into Higher Education (HE), or to begin a specific career path outside of university education. Normally, FE courses teach vocational skills such as bricklaying, hairdressing, childcare or catering. An NVQ is a form of FE, and so are many diplomas, awards and certificates. These courses are focused on workplace skills and equipping you to excel within a particular vocation.
Unlike with Higher Education, Further Education doesn’t (usually) take place at a university. Rather, FE courses are delivered in a range of different settings, such as colleges, community centres, private training centres or workplaces.
Continuing Professional Development in the Further Education industry
Wherever you are in life – be it straight out of school or an established expert in your field – pursuing further education and training will always provide both personal and professional value. CPD is the term used to describe any learning and training activities which professionals engage in to develop and enhance their abilities. The CPD process usually involves logging your development and training activities, along with your reflections and opinions on each activity. These can include taking training courses, peer mentoring and keeping abreast of developments in your subject area.
In order to enhance the impact of CPD on teaching, your employer may require you to complete a CPD report, and you will likely need to show evidence of this record in order to become a member of a professional body or organisation. There’s no national curriculum for FE, so courses are often tailored to meet you or your employer’s needs.
CPD in Further Education requirements
Since the removal of workforce regulations within the FE sector in 2012, it is no longer a legal requirement for teachers and trainers to declare their CPD record each year. Previously, a minimum 30 hours of CPD per year was required for membership to the Institute for Learning (IFL).
The IFL has now been replaced with The Society for Education and Training (SET), a professional membership organisation for practitioners working in the post-16 education and training sector. SET is the only body that can confer QTLS (Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills) status.
As a SET member, you are asked to agree to make a commitment to your CPD when you renew your SET membership each year. This commitment demonstrates that you are improving your relevant knowledge and skills.
SET does not have a points system or minimum number of hours of CPD that members must achieve. A wide range of formal and informal activities could count as meaningful professional development. You need to be able to answer "yes" to these questions:
- Have you undertaken professional development activities this year?
- Have you reflected on the learning you have gained from these activities?
- Have the activities and the reflection made a difference to how you teach or train?
- Can you show evidence of this difference and the impact it has made to learners, colleagues or the organisation in which you work?
Types of CPD courses for FE teachers
There are a wide number of activities you can undertake which all count towards your yearly CPD ‘record’ or journal. Examples of CPD activities include:
Training courses: Gaining further qualifications in your subject or industrial expertise through accredited courses.
Peer Coaching, shadowing and mentoring: Coaching and mentoring other members of staff and being coached yourself in your subject or vocational area.
Reading and reviewing books or journal articles: To be recorded in and reflected upon in your CPD record.
Being an active member of a committee, board, or steering group related to teaching or your subject area.
Online learning, including engagement in discussion on forums and blogs.
Why is CPD in Further Education Important?
Unlike with other types of teaching, you do not need to get ‘qualified teacher status’ to teach in further education. Completing CPD can help teachers obtain new teaching techniques, share best practice, and apply fresh approaches to teaching that allows them to improve their ability both for students, as well as expand their own personal opportunity within the further education industry.
CPD in Further education can provide both training and qualifications delivered in a flexible way. Whether it’s through training courses, attending conferences, being mentored, or taking part in good quality online courses and podcasts, the impact of CPD on teaching aims to enhance confidence and fulfil career aspirations.