HE lecturer or FE teacher?


I'm new to the forum so apologies if this is a topic covered elsewhere.

I am a UK mature student coming to the end of my undergrad BA in English and have achieved some very high marks with a First overall. I always hoped to become a HE lecturer so had planned on the Masters > PhD route, and I have a clear area of research that I am really passionate about. However, now I'm starting to look at my career prospects more realistically, I feel a little shaken by the dearth of full time/permanent positions in HE. Since I already have a fair bit of industry experience, the prospect of a further 4 years of study followed by poor job security and potentially quite low pay is making me reconsider my career expectations.

I have a place on an MA course at my current university to start in September, but I am now applying for trainee teacher/PGCE courses to pursue a career as a FE English teacher instead. I appreciate that job security isn't guaranteed in any sector, but I wonder whether this will be a more realistic goal. At the same time, I wonder if I will ever be in a position to undertake my PhD if I don't begin now.

Opinions from Masters/PhD students or those with experience of teaching would be really appreciated.

Avatar for rewt

No experience as a HE or FE teacher, so I may not be the best person to answer.

Lecturer jobs are not guaranteed and getting one can require some luck. I don't think people should do a PhD for the job prospects but because they like the work/project. The payback is minuscule but worth it if you enjoy yourself doing it. So if you are looking solely at career prospects do the PGCE.

PS: You can also do a PhD then go into FE


Here's my reply... though you might not like it......

I taught FE for 3 years.

I was paid okay (our pay scale was £24-36K)l However, a lot of college's do not pay that much.

We were contracted to 24h teaching hours per week on a 37h per week contract. So, that's 13 hours per week to (in may case).....
- Lesson plan 24h of teaching
- Mark all the assessments (you'll be doing 1000s per year, esp if BTEC)
- Manage any students you have (you'll probably have one or two tutor group).
- Manage any courses you run
- Forward plan (course design etc)
- Moderate other courses
- Other stuff that I cant recall.

I taught HE in FE with some FE. It is generally better as class sizes are smaller.

The problem I also had was that kids now have to be in education until they are 18. When I was that age the only kids doing A levels etc wanted to be there! Thus behavior is worse and due to the way colleges are (not!!) funded, they only get money if the kid passes the course....so you have to drag them through (Help and chase, chase and help.... learning to fail do not happen!)!

I would work Mon-Fri 8-5 (brain would stop working), then do some Sat and Sun.

Teaching HE in FE got me some HE interviews...but always lost out to those with PhDs even if they had no teaching experience or life experience.

Also, be aware, if you are teaching English, you may be asked to teach the resit L2 English classes...those who had 5 years at secondary school to pass their GCSE at grade C/4 and above, and failed....yet now you'll get pressured to getting them that grade in a year!!!

However, in saying that, I taught Sport (Science), thus you might get better kids and smaller classes. Also, the people I worked with were great and I still miss them despite leaving over a year ago. Holidays were great (although I only took them at the end of the year, too bust other times).

Now, with your PhD head on...... all the above is my biased opinion :-)