Its name may have changed, but the intent of the Talent to Teach in FE programme has not. Its strength of purpose is reflected in it having recently reached the 300 participants milestone. Three-hundred is a significant number, but what it represents is even more significant. Because it’s not just a number, it’s 300 real people; 300 talented final-year undergraduate and postgraduate students – or in a few cases experienced industry professionals – who might have been otherwise unaware of the opportunities that a career in FE teaching can offer.
The programme – known as Pathways to FE until its relaunch in May 2019 – responds to the imperative to attract talent into the sector, a priority for most providers across the FE sector. For the unaware, it is an Education and Training Foundation programme that offers 40-hour work placement opportunities in FE providers. In doing so, it inspires fresh talent to consider a teaching career and raises the profile of our sector.
At Cognition – the delivery partner the ETF is working with Talent to Teach in FE – we have had the pleasure of seeing our work pay significant dividends for the profession, and for the very talented individuals we have introduced to it. In February 2018, we were commissioned by the ETF to deliver the Further Pathways programme, placing 120 students with providers in six key locations – Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Leicester, London, and Manchester.
Very quickly, we began to receive large volumes of applications from graduates who were keen to explore working and teaching in FE. As a result of this, we were asked to place additional students in the first two academic terms of 2019/20. As the programme drew to a close recently, nearly 300 students had successfully completed placements with FE providers. Many of them have gone on to take up teacher training programmes, either with the organisation where they have undertaken their placement or elsewhere, and some have taken part-time or voluntary posts.
Feedback from participating providers and individuals has been very positive. Our post programme survey results show a significantly increased interest in FE and teaching in FE amongst graduates post-placement, with the majority of providers reporting that engaging in the programme and placing students has a positive impact on their organisation and their staff. Graduates really enjoy being exposed to a whole range of different activities and having the opportunity to see what working and teaching in FE entails. In terms of encouraging students to consider a career in FE, many students report this is something they are now actively pursuing – as one student put it, (the placement was an) “…amazing experience, I loved every minute of it. It helped me to find my future”. Another stated, “…after my first day of placement I knew teaching was the right career for me thanks to the opportunity and the staff/students I met throughout this amazing experience.”
It goes without saying that the success of the programme is undoubtedly down to the hard work of the providers and staff who support the graduates throughout their placements. We are in the privileged position of having many excellent providers who continue to provide placement opportunities for graduates, and who do so in order to raise the profile of teaching in FE and of the sector as a whole. They report enjoying both the opportunity to showcase the wide variety of educational practice in FE and the skill and dynamism of its workforce, as well as the positivity and enthusiasm of the mentees undertaking placements.
Given this success, we are delighted to have been asked to continue to place students with providers and are doing so under the new Talent to Teach in FE banner. We have added two new components, which we believe will add value and enhance the programme. These are:
We are now placing students across all locations in England where there is demand and will seek to place a minimum of 360 students between now and the end of March 2020.
We are therefore keen to engage with new providers who feel that they can support the programme, and offer placements to students this term, (June, July or August for those providers who remain active over this period), but also to engage with new providers who will be able to support student placements in the new academic year.
We are also keen to further support all providers by sharing vacancy information with participants who have recent and direct experience gained through their placement on the T2TFE programme. If you would like to share your vacancies with us, please complete our vacancy information form, which you can download by clicking here. Please make sure you download and save the form before completing it. Return your completed form to Lauren Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Providers will receive £300 per placement, in return for offering 40 hours of work experience of varied activities to final year/postgraduates and providing a nominated mentor. Students receive a bursary on completion of their placement – also of £300. Cognition will recruit the students and match them to providers and provide guidance on the work placement and mentoring activities.
As noted above, the programme to date has been enormously successful, with very positive feedback from providers and students. As one student commented “I am really grateful for the opportunity, I would never have considered this as a potential career before completing the placement. I would highly recommend it”.