Many of us are familiar with the line from George Bernard Shaw’s play Man and Superman: “He who can, does; he who cannot teaches.”

Well, I would beg to differ - some of the best teachers/trainers I have come across in my career are also highly successful industry professionals. When that blend is right, you have a powerful combination. You have someone who does the job, who knows what they’re talking about and who can effectively pass that skill and experience on.

Teaching can become a useful part of a portfolio career. But making the leap from thinking about it, to successfully doing it, means considering a few key things:

Are you sure teaching is for you?

Unless you really want to enable others, moving into teaching/training may still be possible but you may not enjoy it or be any good at it. Or, it may be that you say to yourself, ‘I won’t know until I try.’ Fair enough. So, in that case, it might be useful to explore ways of dipping your toe in to the water. For example, if you have a colleague/contact who teaches, maybe you could shadow them and help out as an assistant at a few of their classes. That way you will get a feel of what it is like to be at the front of the class, enabling and enthusing others.

What audience are you most suited to?

We are looking here at using teaching/training as an additional skill, not as a full-time job, such as a school teacher (unless you love it so much you wish to go that way!) But as a practitioner/teacher, all age groups are still open to you and it is important to know what your preferences are.

I enjoy teaching adults of all ages and feel confident with the 16-year plus age group. But I don’t teach younger children, as I think my skills are more suited to adults. This is useful information as I can concentrate on what I am at my best. So, think about your preferred age group and focus on opening up opportunities there - at least to start.

What training do I need?

The truth is that many industry practitioners who now teach have not had any training. They have learned on the job as they expand what they teach. It also depends where you want to teach. For example, as an Associate Tutor (AT) at university level, this can mean being hired for your current industry experience and your proven ability to teach (which can come from experience in other areas, for example, running workshops or courses for other organisations).

In my case, as an AT, once accepted on the staff, I was then offered ongoing CPD (continuous professional development) and training.

If you wish to teach in further education, perhaps delivering evening classes in adult and community education (a very common sphere for industry practitioners like ourselves), then doing some basic training might be essential. For example:

PTTLS – pronounced ‘petals’, this stands for 'Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector'. It is a bare minimum to have as a formal qualification. If you do put yourself through this, it will show potential clients and employers that you have shown a level of commitment to teaching and have an understanding of how to teach.

PTTLS can be done through local colleges or privately. The cost differs vastly, so be careful which one you choose. Depending on your needs, you can take the PTTLS course in an one intensive week or over a number of months.

When you start looking online for PTTLS courses and information, you will find a dizzying array of providers. Look for a good overview of the qualification and higher ones (e.g., DTLLS – the Diploma level beyond PTTLS) the Institute for Learning’s (IFL) website is very useful.

'Train the trainer' courses

Unlike PTTLS, where there is a common nationally recognised framework that must be worked to, train the trainer courses can vary vastly in content and effectiveness and industry recognition so, again, it's important to be careful to choose the right one.

When starting out, my advice would be to look at PTTLS first, then consider other training as and when you feel the need and can afford it. With teaching, experience is the key – the more you do it, the better you get at it and the richer that aspect of your career becomes.

Disclosure and barring

If you have worked in your creative field with children or vulnerable adults, you may well have been subject to a CRB – Criminal Records Bureau – check. If not, and you intend to go into teaching/training, even if it is with adults, it is likely that you will be asked to undergo checks.

Recently the government created the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), which replaces the old CRB system. Its aim is to keep information on an individual’s suitability to work with vulnerable groups. Once you have been checked and receive your certificate, you can register to keep it updated and accessible online to future clients and employers. *Note – the initial application must be made by an employer. You cannot apply to have yourself checked. So, for example, if a college requires your services, they will make the application.

Thereafter, registering to keep it updated and accessible online currently costs you £13 a year. This means that future clients and employers can check your status instantly, rather than having to apply and wait (and perhaps you losing that teaching job to someone who has an updated DBS certificate). For more information on the DBS.

Want to learn more?

FEU Training is running a number of free workshops around the country this year. If you would like to attend, look out for updates for workshops coming to your region or register your interest at (if we have sufficient demand, we’ll come to you).

Business skills training
for creative freelances