What is a lecturer?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the term ‘lecturer’ is a little confusing. It means different things according to where a person works, whether in Further Education (FE) or Higher Education (HE). The word ‘lecturer’ suggests that a person delivers a lecture and sometimes that is the case but not always. The title of ‘lecturer’ is often used as another name for a ‘teacher’.

This website however, is not focused on lecturing posts in HE, it is looking instead to provide information for professional individuals who wish to become teachers within the Further Education or FE Sector.

In the FE or the post-16 sector, a teacher can be employed within a college or an independent training provider (ITP) company, where they will teach learners about a specialist area of knowledge or technical and vocational skills. They may depending on the nature of the education and skills training they deliver, be described for example as lecturers, tutors or assessors.

In any event they will primarily be involved in the delivery of teaching, learning and assessment and in most cases these activities will fall within the scope of Ofsted. Provision at higher levels and degree level apprenticeships will mostly be within scope of the Office for Students (OfS) and the UK Quality Code for Higher Education.   

The range of industries and subjects taught in FE is vast, as is the level range of the skills training delivered. FE teachers might teach learners at entry-level, although the majority of provision in colleges tends to be at Levels 2, 3, 4 and 5 including full and part-time programmes of study and apprenticeships. The largest age range in colleges are those aged 16-18, although most also deliver to significant volumes of adult and professional learners. ITPs tend to focus on adult and professional learners in the main with specialist qualifications and apprenticeships often making a higher proportion of their learners. 

Teachers in FE often have industry backgrounds and experience, but all teachers and assessors will normally be expected to also undertake and maintain post-compulsory teaching or assessor qualifications and to participate in continuous professional development (CPD), including as appropriate industry updating. New staff coming to FE from industry employers receive considerable training and development to help them make the transition to being a successful teacher whatever the industry skills they might deliver.

Meanwhile, universities make up the main part of the Higher Education sector in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, although many colleges and ITPs also provide higher level training including specialist qualifications. Lecturers in universities generally teach on under-graduate or post-graduate degree programmes. Generally to become a lecturer within a University or other Higher Education establishment you are required to hold a Doctorate (level 8) qualification in your specialist area and you must conduct research as well as teach as part of your role.

As noted, in order to work as a teacher in a college or independent training organisation it is necessary to be a proven practitioner in an area of expertise and to have worked within a specific industry for a few years after having qualified. Teaching staff whether lecturers, tutors or assessors, should hold the relevant qualification for their profession, for example; a Degree, a City & Guilds Diploma or Certificate (or equivalent), an NVQ qualification and/or have been an apprentice. It is also advantageous to have GCEs or GCSEs at the equivalent to level 2 particularly in English and Maths.

Colleges and independent training providers recruit throughout the year, but have a larger volume of vacancies at key times of the year. The peak time to look for vacancies are a couple of months before the start of a new term, so June and July for the start of the autumn term, November and December for the start of the spring term in January and then March for the start of the summer term. 


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