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United-Kingdom-Scotland:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

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The system of continuing, post-school, non-tertiary education in Scotland includes three main types of provision that are available to adult learners (see Chapter 8 Adult Education and Training):

  1. Community Learning and Development (CLD)
  2. Training
  3. Further education

There is overlap among these types of provision. For example, colleges contribute strongly to both training and CLD, as well as providing college courses formally described as “further education”.

The term ‘teachers and trainers’ therefore encompasses the wide range of roles and titles that exist in these sectors, including teachers, trainers, lecturers, tutors, assessors, mentors, coaches, and workplace supervisors. These individuals may work in a wide range of contexts, including: colleges; CLD providers; voluntary sector organisations; commercial organisations and independent training providers; work-based learning settings; prisons and offender learning institutions.


Further Education

Each college in Scotland is individually responsible for its own recruitment processes, including the qualifications it requires its lecturing staff to hold or acquire. Teachers in colleges may undertake training leading to a Teaching Qualification (Further Education). The majority do so. They may also thereafter register with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). There is, however, no legal requirement for them to do either. The Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 1992 is the relevant legislation allowing colleges to enable teachers to undertake training.

Training for the Teaching Qualification (Further Education) is open only to persons holding a recognised appointment in further education. The requirements for admission to training for this qualification are an appropriate specialist degree or, as a minimum, a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or equivalent qualification. Candidates must have appropriate experience in industry or commerce and a basic qualification in English and mathematics.

Three universities – Aberdeen, Dundee and Stirling – are approved by the Scottish Government, on behalf of Scottish Ministers and in consultation with the GTCS, to offer courses leading to the award of a Teaching Qualification (Further Education). There is no standard Teaching Qualification (Further Education): the institutions offer a variety of courses at undergraduate or postgraduate level, ranging from Certificates to Masters. They are undertaken mostly on a part-time basis by staff already in employment.

Between 50% and 80% of Teaching Qualification (Further Education) course credits may be taken through approved local providers such as the colleges themselves. The Further Education Professional Development Forum (PDF), working with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), has produced criteria for approved providers and has developed units which may carry credit towards the full Teaching Qualification (Further Education). Further units of initial teacher training and Continuing Professional Development may be developed by providers, including higher education institutions, colleges and consortia of colleges, for approval by the PDF and subsequent publication in the National Index.

Registration with the GTCS is accorded in the first instance on a provisional basis. Final registration is granted to lecturers subject usually to the submission of a professional reference. The probation period is not an obligation in further education. Further education lecturers holding a recognised subject qualification in secondary education may apply for full registration in that subject in further education.



There are no central arrangements for the training of teachers who provide vocational training outwith colleges.


Community Learning and Development

A professional CLD worker should have undertaken a CLD programme at degree or postgraduate level. The training involves both academic and practical work. Guidelines for community education training (encompassing adult education, community work and youth work) were published by the Community Education Validation and Endorsement (CeVe) committee, the role of which has now been taken over by the CLD Standards Council for Scotland. There are also a number of approved programmes below degree level. These provide community activists, volunteers and paid staff with nationally accredited training, are an access route to degree level training, and enable training providers to devise programmes of training which reflect the skills necessary for trainees to secure employment at a pre-degree qualifying level.

In 2012, a Professional Development Framework for adult literacies' practitioners and employers was launched. It provides guidance about professional pathways into roles in adult literacies work, for developing within roles, and for progression.

Current providers of CLD initial qualifying training include the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Strathclyde, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and a number of colleges (a list can be found here). Flexible and work-based modes for professional training have been developed in recent years, with a particular emphasis on widening access to community activists. A CLD Work-based and Part-time Training Consortium brings together higher education and further education providers and some others.


Legislative references

Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 1992 (Act of Parliament) : 1992, c.37.

Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 2005 Act of the Scottish Parliament) : 2005, asp6.