What are the conditions of service and benefits of working in the post-16 education sector?
Depending on which industry you are thinking of leaving to become a lecturer or assessor, you may consider the conditions of service good, moderate or not so good!
Below are general comments about conditions of service within the post-16 education sector. Conditions and benefits will vary significantly between different colleges, between colleges and independent training organisations and between different independent training organisations. It would always be advisable to clarify what you are being offered by any organisations that you consider applying to work for.
- Holiday entitlement is usually good when compared with other professions. Although lecturers working in the post-16 sector do not get the full duration of the student holiday periods off, they do get a generous holiday entitlement plus bank holidays and usually the Christmas holidays in full. Typically 7 weeks plus bank holidays.
- Pensions schemes are also a valuable benefit of entering into this sector. Depending on the role that you apply for at a college, you will be invited to join one of two different schemes. Pension schemes offered by independent training organisations are likely to be significantly different from those offered by colleges.
- Working hours may be considered favourable or not depending on your existing profession! Whilst most lecturing takes place between the hours of 09.00 – 17.00 classes do also run in the evenings and sometimes on a Saturday. Also, you will need to take work home with you whether that is marking or preparation for future teaching sessions. There can be a fairly substantial administrative load relating to writing reports, writing up assessments, marking and evaluating student work and responding to data requests from your managers. This level of work is usually not so high for someone undertaking an assessor role but in turn, this may be reflected in a lower salary for the assessor.
- Working environment. There has been significant capital investment in the college sector in the last decade resulting in the building of some very inspirational new college campuses with state of the art equipment and facilities. Both students and staff benefit from this investment. If you become a lecturer in a college you can generally expect to work in a well-resourced environment. You may or may not get parking depending on the location of the college. Town Centre colleges may not have parking for all staff; other colleges have ample space for parking. When you are not teaching, you will probably work in an open plan office environment with your colleagues from your particular subject area – individual offices are very much a thing of the past! This helps in planning sessions, benchmarking assessments, and generally is a great way to build up lasting friendships with your work colleagues. There will always be a variety of places to eat at a college and prices are usually very competitive. Some colleges also offer their staff discounts to have treatments in their hair and beauty salons and even to have work done on their cars in their motor vehicle training units. Classrooms and training areas are often very well set up although this does differ from college to college and subject area to subject area. In the best case scenarios you would have access to the latest technologies and resources.
- Contribution to your local community. Colleges are and have always been an important part of many towns across the UK. It may surprise those that are new to this sector exactly how much a college involves itself with its local community and employers. If you choose to leave your current profession to become a lecturer or assessor, you will never need to lose contact with your industry because you will be asked to bring all of those links and contacts with you by way of work experience opportunities for your learners, apprenticeship vacancies and working with local employers to help fill their skills gaps and their vacancies. The opportunities to become involved in local events and initiatives are always present within the college sector and as a member of staff you will be encouraged to participate with your students.
- Opportunities for promotion. Colleges tend to be fairly large institutions which require a management structure to oversee and run the organisation. Opportunities exist for promotion of qualified teachers into various management roles which may be related to teaching and learning or to support services. Salaries and benefits for higher level roles are generally good.
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