InTuition - Summer 2020

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Issue 40 Summer 2020

The journal for professional teachers and trainers in the further education and training sector

CHANGE TACK Amanda Melton on going forward in an unsettling landscape


Be the best on show when teaching online 16

Teachers meet tech: how digital learning changed everything 20

Building inclusion makes business and education sense

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Professional development for experienced and advanced teachers NEW 20 FOR 20

Advanced Teacher Status (ATS) is the badge of advanced professionalism and mastery in further education and training. New for 2020, the eligibility criteria** has been widened to enable those advanced practitioners who do not hold QTLS or QTS, but have FIIR XIEGLMRK JSV EX PIEWX ƤZI ]IEVW XS ETTP] JSV %87

Apply for the ATS programme:

* Normal price for ATS is £750. A bursary of £500 is available upon application reducing the cost to £250. Subject to eligibility. 7II 7)8 [IFWMXI JSV JYPP HIXEMPW SJ %87 IPMKMFMPMX] GVMXIVME [LMGL MRGPYHIW LSPHMRK E QMRMQYQ SJ E PIZIP XIEGLMRK UYEPMƤGEXMSR

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T Level providers share their latest research findings

Vocational, practical and creative education needs a different approach

08 OPINION Views from David Russell and Susan Wallace

30 FE RESEARCH FE practitioners share insights from their day-to-day professional practice

10 ADVICE The best approach to take when interacting with students online over video


12 INTERVIEW Amanda Melton, CEO, Nelson and Colne College Group

15 INSIGHT Ofqual’s Phil Beach on the tailored response to exam cancellations

The lockdown has propelled self-determined learning to the forefront of education




Geoff Petty on making students more independent

One positive from the lockdown is the acceleration of the use of education technology across the sector

MEMBERS’ CORNER 36 THE FORUM Adapting to new ways of working during lockdown



38 MY LIFE IN TEACHING Martine Ellis on moving from the boardroom to teaching

20 SEND Making those with special educational needs and disabilities feel included and valued is a vital part of the role played by colleges and FE establishments

24 ITPs A vital part of the further education mix, independent training providers are rising to the challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic

26 CASE STUDY: ATS Advanced Teacher Status not only inspires, but gives individuals newfound confidence and motivation that benefits both their organisation and learners

39 BOOK REVIEWS The latest educational titles reviewed

EDITOR: Nick Martindale

DIRECTOR: Martin Reid

LEAD DESIGNER: David Twardawa


InTuition is published on behalf of the Society for Education and Training

SUBEDITOR: James Hundleby PICTURE RESEARCHER: Claire Echavarry


Redactive Publishing Ltd +44 (0)20 7880 6200

PRODUCTION: Jane Easterman +44 (0)20 7880 6248


PRINTED BY Precision Colour Printing, Telford


157-197 Buckingham Palace Road London, SW1W 9SP +44 (0)20 3567 5999 membership.enquiries@

While every care has been taken in the compilation of this magazine, errors or omissions are not the responsibility of the publishers. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the publishers or editorial staff. All rights reserved. Unless specifically stated, goods or services mentioned are not formally endorsed by the Society for Education and Training, which does not guarantee or endorse or accept any liability for any goods and/or services featured in this publication. ISSN: 2050-8980


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Rising to the challenge The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the further education sector, but we can be proud of the way in which teachers, trainers and sector leaders have responded elcome to the latest issue of inTuition, which I hope you will notice has a rather different look and feel to it. We took the decision last year to bring in a new media partner and freshen up the publication, and this is the result. The journal now features clear sections including news, opinion pieces, feature articles and the practitioner-led pieces we know you value so much. It has been completely redesigned too, and we hope you will find it more visually appealing and easy to navigate and read. As I write this, we’re all still coping with the coronavirus pandemic and having to adjust the way in which we work. We’ve heard many inspiring stories from across the sector about how you’ve been responding. You will, hopefully, have received our special issue a few weeks ago, outlining how we can respond to the challenges of home-based teaching and working. Our cover interview with Amanda Melton (page 12) provides insight into how Nelson and Colne College has adapted. The current situation isn’t all she’s had to cope with: the college is busy preparing for the roll-out of T Levels in September while her remit takes her far beyond the realms of the college itself, even in normal circumstances. On page 16, our feature on EdTech should provide some food for thought around making best use of the latest technology, which has been a saviour in recent months. It’s also something likely to become an increasingly prominent part of teaching in the future, and the current situation has only served to accelerate that.


Another must-read is an article by Phil Beach CBE, executive director for vocational and technical qualifications at Ofqual, who explains how the Government has gone about awarding grades for vocational and technical qualifications, GCSEs, and AS and A Levels (page 15). And don’t miss our feature on teaching learners with special educational needs and neurodiversity (page 20), or our in-depth look at the independent training provider sector (page 24). Thanks to those who have contributed their own experiences and learnings to this issue. We’re pleased to feature incisive articles by Melanie Lanser on vocational education (page 28), Kathryn Langford on the development of heutagogy (page 32) and Geoff Petty on the topic of independent learning (page 34). Special thanks, too, to Dr Anne Davis, head of mathematics at Earlscliffe, who offers her critical analysis of the latest book releases on page 39. Finally, a reminder please – if you haven’t already done so – to renew your SET membership with us. We are stronger together, and I do hope you feel that SET provides a valuable and supportive network. I wish you all the best and hope you enjoy this issue of inTuition.


MARTIN REID, director, SET


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TRIPS REPORTS SUBMITTED: THE FOUR KEY FINDINGS he Teacher Regional Improvement Projects (TRIPs) have submitted their final reports and case studies. TRIPs have been taking place as part of the T Level Professional Development (TLPD) offer from the Education and Training Foundation (ETF). Across England, T Level providers came together to focus on high-priority areas to share effective practice, research and find solutions to challenges in preparation for T Level delivery. Peer advisors were appointed to support the projects to develop their understanding of changes and to share ideas, promote discussion and disseminate effective evidence-based practice from the sector that would inform project design and planning. The advisors also provided the necessary challenge for TRIP partners to consider how they would measure successful project outcomes. The key findings and learning can be summarised into four themes.




Collaboration and networking

Participants from the northern TRIPs said that the opportunity to collaborate internally and externally was one of the most positive impacts. The projects have enabled staff to network, build cross-organisational relationships, discuss approaches for addressing subject-specialist content, share effective practice, and collaborate on ways of teaching different topics to make them more engaging. The willingness and enthusiasm of those involved has resulted in the development of sustainable working relationships that will continue beyond

the life of the projects and could be hugely beneficial to staff, students and the local communities. They also felt that establishing a model of subject-based networks that allowed teachers to share learning experiences, challenges and successful intervention strategies, and ideas and resources was really useful. Relationship and partnership-building enabled action-planning for quality improvement in technical teaching and learning. There was also an added benefit of promoting staff wellbeing. In the south, TRIP participants appreciated hearing about the approaches


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of other providers, and said they found the insights informative and would share them with colleagues. The TRIPs gave the participants a shared sense of community and fostered a sense of camaraderie.


Employer engagement

The new and enriched employer relationships that have been created are seen to be integral to the ongoing success of T Levels. One benefit of this togetherness is that staff have been able to identify gaps in knowledge, undertake industry insight placements and attend employerled workshops to upskill their own practice and industry knowledge in fast-moving sectors. For many, employers and providers have been working together on co-curriculum design, planning and delivery to ensure that learners will get the most out of their industry placements, which are a substantial element of the T Level course. By working with employers to address communication strategies and review course content and resources, providers are preparing learners for the ways of working and behaviours expected of them in the work environment. In turn, employers better understand the student learning journey. One college intends to take T Level students to masterclasses run by local employers, particularly in the first year, to help them prepare for their industry placements.


Continuing professional development

For all, the remission funding provided for staff, within providers involved in a TRIP, has offered the chance to prioritise meaningful professional development. This helps upskill staff through immersion in other elements of the TLPD offer and ensures staff feel better prepared to commence T Level delivery in 2020 or 2021. One college said that without its TRIP it would not have the

Halesowen College has joined SET as corporate partner

dedicated resource in terms of employer engagement through STEM First, and key areas required for organisational development may have stayed uncovered.


Innovative curriculum design

One college noted that its key learning from the TRIP was that preparing learners to understand different assessment methods is key to successful T Level delivery. They found that a more collaborative curriculum team approach to planning, delivery and assessment was needed because of the breadth of the T Level curriculum content. They also concluded a need for greater emphasis on rigorous tracking for monitoring learner progress and managing the holistic assessment process. Another further education provider said that TRIP participation had impacted upon the organisation’s implementation of 2020/21 curriculum design to ensure learners are industry-ready, and that the needs of learners and stakeholders are taken into consideration. In turn, requirements of the recently released Education Inspection Framework will be met, and curriculum design will enable appropriate sequencing. The case studies from each TRIP will be published on the T Level Professional Development pages on the ETF’s website at etfoundation. You can also sign up to the TLPD bulletin, via the TLPD pages, to receive notification of the publications and other updates.

NEWS IN BRIEF In other news... NEW ANNUAL ETF BROCHURE RELEASED The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has announced its governmentfunded professional workforce development plans for 2020/21 for the further education (FE) sector in a new brochure. The plans display why the ETF is the national expert in designing and delivering effective CPD for the FE workforce. To access, visit etfoundation.

#ETFSUPPORTSFE CAMPAIGN During the Covid-19 pandemic, the ETF launched the ‘ETFSupportsFE’ campaign to further promote the huge range of first-class online CPD resources specifically for teachers, trainers, managers and leaders in the FE sector. All are funded by the Department for Education and aimed at improving practice and supporting excellence. Find out more at and follow the hashtag on social media.

PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS CASE STUDY VIDEOS RELEASED New videos illustrating how the Professional Standards can underpin a change in staff development are now available to watch.


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They focus on work at four provider institutions – Guernsey College, Lincoln College, MoD Lyneham and Waltham Forest College – that have moved away from topdown performance management to put responsibility into the hands of practitioners. For more information, visit professionalstandards

FURTHER FORCES DEADLINE EXTENDED UNTIL AUGUST Potential recruits to the ETF-led and Ministry of Defence and Gatsby Foundation-supported Further Forces programme have until the end of August 2020 to complete their induction and orientation. Applying by the end of August will allow recruits to begin initial teacher education training by the end of September 2020 at the latest.

ETF BECOMES ARMED FORCES COVENANT SIGNATORY The ETF has become a signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant. In doing so, it has committed to upholding the covenant’s key principles – namely that no member of the armed forces community should face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services compared with any other citizen, and that in some circumstances special treatment may be appropriate.

IPFREC CHANGES The inaugural࣢International Practice-Focused Research in Education Conference࣢(IPFREC) has been postponed until July 2021. The ETF’s sixth annual Practitioner Research Conference will still take place in July 2020, but be held࣢online.

INSPIRATIONAL CHILDREN REPORT RELEASED The ETF and the Council for Disabled Children have published Tomorrow’s Leaders – A World Beyond Disability, which profiles the achievements of over 30 inspirational young people who are leading in their communities with a dedication to improving࣢society.


Receiv e regu lar upd the ET ates fr F on n om ew an CPD c d upda ourses ted and re well as source selecte s as d to Sign u pic areas. p at etfoun dation newsle / tters

A warm welcome to two new corporate partners of the Society for Education and Training (SET): Halesowen College (pictured, left) and New Directions College. Corporate partners have access to a range of professional development opportunities for their staff that can help providers improve outcomes for learners. Find out more about the benefits at membership/set-corporate-partners

CFEM HANDBOOKS PUBLISHED Handbooks developed through the Centres for Excellence in Maths (CfEM) programme have been released to support FE maths teaching up to Level 2. The evidence-based resources follow four core themes of activity: mastery, contextualisation, motivating and engaging learners, and data and technology. First editions are available at

ETF GUIDE TO FE UPDATED The ETF has updated its guide on the FE system in England, So What Is the FE Sector? The guide (below) explains what the FE sector is and the opportunities offered to potential learners, their parents, teachers and trainers, and employers. Visit

NEW LEGAL MEMBER BENEFIT SET has launched a new benefit for members by partnering with Law Express to help navigate uncertain times. Members can now access free telephone legal advice on queries including employment issues and data protection. Visit law-express





The proportion of teachers who feel skills learned during lockdown will improve their teaching back in the classroom, a study by the University of Exeter reveals

60% The amount of employers that have stopped recruiting apprentices in the current climate, a survey by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers finds


The proportion of adults who believe the National Living Wage should be increased, according to a Learning and Work Institute study


The number of qualifications for 16- to 19-year-old students that will receive a £400m funding boost from the Department for Education


The a amount of 16- to 25-yearolds who will struggle to find meaningful employment as a mea result of Covid-19, an Association resu study suggests of Colleges Co


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Plotting a new route The impact of Covid-19 has changed the way in which the further education sector operates, perhaps forever. It’s down to us to help shape what the future looks like, says David Russell t’s a tough time. It’s a strange time. It’s a time of anxiety and of loss. When I began to write this, in April, I knew that a small number of readers would have lost loved ones to Covid-19. Now, in late May, the numbers have climbed up the international league of woe. Though the fear may currently be receding as we look to a relaxation of lockdown, we have all suffered loss of one kind or another, even if we have been spared the loss of a loved one. We have lost some freedom due to confinement, and psychologically we have lost freedom from fear. We have lost the future along with the pre-Covid world we knew. The threat of the virus will recede – in time, maybe all but vanish – but we can never go back to a world in which the pandemic never happened. That familiar world – for all its problems – we are all grieving. What does this mean for teachers and for post-16 education policy? In the short term, it is too early to tell. So much depends on how the pandemic progresses and what the science dictates in terms of physical distancing in the months ahead. But we cannot simply wait and see. We are not currently in the



waiting room or delayed in the departure lounge, waiting to see when our flight will finally take off and our lives will resume. This is our life now. We have to live it, and shape it, and do our best with it for those in our sphere of responsibility. Many teachers and leaders have spoken about how proud they have been of their colleagues’ responses to lockdown, and how quickly colleges and providers flipped their provision to online almost overnight. I’ve heard some amazing stories, especially from the world of local authority adult education, where teachers and leaders have turned their hands to all sorts of different work: for example delivering health and social care training for volunteers, staffing venues for adults in need of social care, and assisting with ‘reablement’ (helping people at home that have been released from hospital to make room for Covid beds). Truly, adult learning services lie at the heart of our communities. Many others are worried about the financial impact, especially independent training providers who stand to be hit hardest by funding decisions around apprenticeships. It will be a terrible loss for our sector if skilled and dedicated teachers, trainers and assessors find themselves unemployed because goodquality providers cannot ride out the financial storm. Most of all, as is so typical of our sector, people have spoken to me about their concern for the learners. Digital education body JISC has pointed out that an estimated 30,000 or more of the poorest 16- to 18-year-olds do not have even a mobile phone on which to learn, let alone

a laptop or tablet. Many more do, but have data packages that will not stretch to fulltime online learning as well as normal use; young people will make choices, and not always good ones. Colleagues have spoken of their worry about high numbers of unemployed in the coming months across the economy – possibly averaging 20%, and much higher in some areas. They ask whether the sector will have the right provision in place to give those people the training and support they need. Most immediately there is concern about young people’s disengagement from learning over the long summer of confinement, and whether we will have a ‘Covid generation’ whose progression is permanently hit and in which the disadvantage gap is even wider than the norm. One College CEO spoke of the sense of loss of the ability to be a social and educational leveller, “the power to generate equality” which is the driving motivation for so many of us in the further education sector. As a leader, my first response of course has been to secure my organisation and the safety and future of those who work in it and make it what it is. But quickly we moved on to the next circle out: the needs of the teachers and sector leaders we serve. This is very hard, as their needs are changing, unknown and currently unknowable. And then, beyond the sector itself, is the economy and society it in turn serves: what knowledge, skills, wisdom and wonder will our sector need to focus on to help our young people and adults thrive in the world as it unfolds in the coming years? I do not know. So like everyone, I keep listening, talking and reading. We are not in the airport departure lounge. The flight we were expecting to catch will never fly. This is our journey now, and we are already on it. Let’s look out the windows and talk about where to head our plane. Together. It could be amazing.

DAVID RUSSELL is chief executive of the Education and Training Foundation


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Watch and learn Many teachers are guilty of making easily avoidable mistakes. Susan Wallace shows her four simple rules that will make an immediate difference to the quality of teaching and engagement of students have vivid memories, aged about 13, of sitting in despair as our maths teacher wrote up solutions to algebra problems on the chalkboard with her right hand while simultaneously deleting them with the board rubber held in her left. This gave each line of the solution about 30 seconds’ exposure before being obliterated forever. Far from being impressed by her ambidexterity, I was – and remain – perplexed as to why she would do this. My difficulty was exacerbated by the fact that she performed this feat while muttering explanations directly to the chalkboard at a volume just below what is audible to the human ear. Since then, I have had the privilege of observing countless lessons during the course of my professional career, many excellent and none – I am delighted to say – which have matched that one for awfulness. But some have come close, and perhaps one way we can get something positive out of them is to heed them as a warning of what not to do if our intention is to be effective. Here are four major mistakes that the would-be excellent teacher needs to avoid. Starting the lesson by telling the learners they’re not going to enjoy the topic about to be covered. This is usually prefaced by the teacher saying something like: “I know this is boring,


IF WE WANT TO COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY WITH SOMEONE AND BUILD UP A RAPPORT, WE DON’T TURN OUR BACK ON THEM but we’ve got to do it.” This is often said under the misguided impression that it will create a sense of solidarity with the learners. But, let’s face it, who wants to be told: “I’m now going to bore you for 40 minutes?” When I hear this, I have to resist the urge to rise to my feet and say loudly, “Find a way to make it interesting then! That’s your job!” Of course, I do eventually say exactly this, but only afterwards, privately, and in a nice way. Talking to the screen. This is understandable, perhaps, with new teachers, but unfortunately they’re not the only ones who do it. Turning your back on a sea of faces who might be waiting to hang on your every word – but might equally just be waiting for you to make a terrible mistake – may seem to offer a momentary sense of safety. But turning your back is about as effective as putting a bucket on


your head: it’s no real protection from disaster and – worse – you won’t even see disaster coming. And, of course, it sends completely the wrong message. If we want to communicate effectively with someone and build up a rapport, we don’t turn our back on them. Treating a wrong answer as though it’s stupid. It’s very dispiriting to hear an incorrect answer greeted with a blunt “No!” or “Wrong!” or even “Rubbish!” It destroys the confidence and motivation of the learner (doubly disastrous if they didn’t have much of either in the first place); it discourages others from engaging with the lesson; it engenders fear in the class – one of the greatest barriers to learning; and it doesn’t teach anyone anything except that learning carries the threat of humiliation. And there are perfectly good positive ways to respond. “Good try!” “Nearly right.” “Interesting idea, but I need a bit more.” Or: “I like your thinking, but that’s not the right answer.” (We can thank Victoria Coren Mitchell on Only Connect for that one.) Always having to be the one who knows everything. There are three things a good teacher learns to say quite early in their career. They are: “I don’t know”, “I was wrong about that” and “Does anyone else know?” As teachers, we need a sound grasp of our subject. But no one expects us to be a walking Wikipedia. What we do need is the ability to guide our learners towards finding things out for themselves and the willingness to use their existing skills and knowledge as an added resource. None of us is perfect. The upside of our mistakes is that we can learn from them. I could write a whole article about what I’ve learned from my own. And, needless to say, I’ve never really got the hang of algebra.

SUSAN WALLACE is professor emerita of education at Nottingham Trent University


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Facing the camera

Interacting with students online requires a different set of skills to being at the front of a real-life classroom. Simon Day offers a few tips that can help you make the transition f you’re a teacher, you were probably expecting the routine of teaching to be fairly stable for the next however many years. Go to work, teach lessons, come home. I was. Of course, there are the ‘expected’ changes such as deadline pressures, marking, exams and schemes of work, but I don’t think any of


us saw Covid-19 coming! It can be overwhelming to think that we, the teachers and trainers, have now become the students. We have had to rapidly upskill ourselves to support and educate others effectively. Once I adopted online communication, I quickly discovered that a couple of strategies that have served me well as a

teacher are equally vital when communicating via technology. Although, in my view, online conversation will never match standing up in front of a class of students, I hope to share a few pointers that might help settle some nerves and help you realise how many transferable skills you already have as an educator.

Communication is highly nuanced. When we speak in person, it is much easier to read facial expressions, observe gestures, detect body language and discern variations in vocal tone. All of these combine to give us a clearer picture of precisely what is being said by how it is being said. Online communication can raise barriers to detecting some of these nuances. Poor video quality may obscure facial expression, intermittent audio reception may betray the subtle variations of the voice, and restrictive camera angles may hide the true meaning of body language or gestures. Although it can require a small financial investment, an HD webcam, good pair of over-ear headphones and USB microphone are three pieces of equipment that have notably improved my online communication experience: I can see more clearly, hear more clearly and speak more clearly. My hands are also free to use appropriate accompanying gestures, not being encumbered with wires or handheld equipment. I would estimate the total cost at around £100, but the equipment has proved invaluable. I highly recommend this investment – anything that improves the user experience to improve retention is worth investing in to facilitate a more immersive experience for all participants.


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3 PREPARE AS YOU WOULD IN CLASS If you were going to stand up in front of a class and deliver a session, how much preparation would you put into it? It is easy to think that because we are in a more familiar, comfortable space with no live audience, we can get away with less preparation. This is dangerous ground. We don’t need days and weeks of rehearsal, but reviewing key objectives in advance and having a clear structure to an online session will also communicate to students that we care about them and ensure the session content is better received and retained.


LOOK THE PART Call me old-school, but if I’m in a classroom teaching, it’s a white shirt and a tie. If I’m online in a professional capacity, I dress in a professional manner. Sometimes a tie, other times a shirt and jacket, but I deliberately dress and groom to say: “Here I am. I’ve tried. I care.” Sometimes we must reverse the situation and think about how we will be received by our students – do they get the impression we care about them by the language we use, our mannerisms and our dress? How would we feel if someone turned up to a call speaking, acting and looking like we do? If there is even a slight amount of discomfort at this suggestion, perhaps some revisions are in order.



This should be maintained 30 per cent of the time for a conversation to be deemed fit for purpose. To establish and maintain relationships of trust and respect, this rises to between 60 and 70 per cent. In online communication, it is incredibly tempting to look at the face on screen for much of the time, thinking you are making eye contact.

You are not. Eye contact is made by looking at the camera lens. Stick a Post-it note or arrow near the lens (or, if you’re like me, a pair of sticky eyes) as a reminder that when you speak, this is where you should look. It takes practice, but it will pay dividends as students will feel more involved in the experience.

VOCAL VARIETY When you deliver a live lesson or presentation, people can see your entire person and can therefore read facial expression, body language and gesture. Speaking on-camera limits this, which places more emphasis on the voice. Varying pitch, pace and volume can help you tell your story with greater authenticity and emphasise key points with greater authority. It will require an investment of energy and commitment, but your voice will need to compensate for those aspects of communication hindered by the limitations of online platforms to help deliver your message with clarity. If you are delighted, sound delighted. If you are optimistic, sound optimistic. If you are concerned, sound concerned. This will make it much easier for participants to correctly interpret your intended message. SIMON DAY is vice-president of education at Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation which has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924. For more information, visit


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Changing tack A few months ago, the main focus for Amanda Melton was the introduction of T Levels and helping to shape the future of the further education sector. The emergence of coronavirus ushered in a very different set of priorities BY NICK MARTINDALE


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t’s a Friday morning when I speak to Amanda Melton, principal and chief executive of Nelson and Colne College Group in Lancashire. It should have been the end of the first week back at college after the Easter break, but instead she is in her garden. It’s a slightly surreal scenario, but not much is normal in the further education (FE) world just now. Despite the somewhat unusual circumstances though, Melton has been pleasantly surprised by how well the college has coped with the challenges of Covid-19. “Like most colleges, we turned on a sixpence when lockdown happened, and we were able to become an online college in a very short space of time,” she says. “We had an extra staff development day on that last Friday to get everyone online, which was just in time. We’re coping pretty well but now, like everyone, we’re trying to see how we can sustain the initial momentum.” Initially, her biggest concern was whether the IT would cope with staff and students needing to access systems remotely, after a difficult experience trying to get the college onto a single domain after its merger with Accrington and Rossendale College two years ago. “But our IT staff did a magnificent job of getting everything going, and within seven days we had no staff on the college premises at all,” she says. “The whole college is on Microsoft Teams, which we’re using for document sharing, board meetings and project management, and students are using Google Classroom. It’s been the burning platform that we needed, and even personally I have overcome my reticence to change my ways of working, which others are benefiting from.” It’s not just the IT to which Melton has had to adapt. “I’m quite an outwardfacing principal – on many occasions I’ve called myself head of sales – and my key strength is in building relationships, negotiating and influencing,” she says. “This is a completely different kind of leadership and I have had to redesign my own job description because in this time of crisis, both inside the college and


outside, it’s more about trying to support colleagues, students and other partners and stakeholders in a compassionate and emotional, as well as a practical, way. But I feel more connected to my staff than I have in a very long time as a result.” She’s worried it will sound crass to talk about any positives that might emerge from the current situation, but firmly believes the new skills everyone has had to learn could come in handy in future. “We’re thinking about our reopening plan, and teaching students when they’re not in the college needs to be part of that, not just from a pragmatic point of view but because it will enhance students’ preparedness for what they do next,” she says. “We all need to develop our independent thinking and learning


education system to a place where it is more closely aligned to getting young people into valuable jobs where they will continue to learn on the job for a long time. I’ve been a massive advocate of T Levels from the outset.” Melton’s hope is that the new system can form part of a wider framework in which employers and colleges can work closer together. “It’s important that we don’t get too hung up on making colleges do what employers want because employers have a habit of changing their minds,” she says. “We need employer engagement to contribute to the development of curriculum but it needs to become part of the personality of colleges to be in that space, and in the best colleges that’s already the case.”

Teaching journey

LIKE MOST COLLEGES, WE TURNED ON A SIXPENCE WHEN LOCKDOWN HAPPENED. WITHIN SEVEN DAYS WE HAD NO STAFF ON THE PREMISES skills.” The college needs to be prepared for only partial returns of students and future temporary lockdowns, she says, adding that knowing staff and students can work remotely could even help with construction projects in future. Distance learning, of course, was not what Melton envisaged dominating her agenda at this point. Like many others, the college will start offering T Levels from September, and Melton herself has been a firm advocate. “The central intent for colleges is to get young people ready for what they do when they leave, not to give them a qualification,” she says. “For me, the T Level conversation is about how to take your vocational

Melton’s own route to running a college was a circuitous one. Having studied a modern languages degree and worked in sales for a software firm, she was introduced to the world of FE when she had her hair cut at her local college. “I had two young children and was working as a freelance IT consultant, and I applied to my local college, which was South Trafford College at the time, to see if they wanted someone to teach French and Italian,” she says. “They came back to me and said they did but they also needed someone to teach IT and business, and before I knew it I was working virtually full-time.” She would remain there for 16 years, rising to assistant principal by the time she moved to Nelson and Colne in 2012. “When I got to Nelson, to my pleasure, and also slight concern, I found that it was an amazingly good college, and I was worried about how I could possibly improve it,” she says. “But the college and I have grown together and it’s now a spectacularly successful college. The people who work and learn there are part of a very happy family who are keen to learn. Our purpose architecture is built around the idea that ‘we exist to create the extraordinary’. We want extraordinary outcomes for our students and for them to have extraordinary success in their lives, and we want


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our teaching staff to enjoy being extraordinary teachers.” Nelson and Colne, though, is not her only focus. She’s also a trustee of the Pendle Education Trust, a multi-academy trust chain sponsored by the college. “We set it up when I had been at the college for only a few days as a result of a local primary school which was in significant difficulty having got an Ofsted grade 4, and a secondary school that was in the same position,” she recalls. “We were able to use some of the capacity for improvement which existed in the college, largely connected to leadership, to transform the prospects of those schools. There are five schools in the trust; one is still struggling to improve but we are all over it, and the other four have been transformed from being grade 4 schools to at least grade 2, and one will be knocking on the door of outstanding this year.” She also serves as a director for skills and technical education on the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, and chairs its Skills Advisory Panel, which works closely with enterprise co-ordinators to provide school and college students with a career plan and links to local employers. For her, such extracurricular activity is just part of the job. “I completely respect those leaders whose job it is to make improvements in the educational experience of learners but that is not my job,” she says. “I have employed great leaders in my college who are much



FAVOURITE HOLIDAY SPOT Cornish coast– sunny obviously


DOGS OR CATS? Dogs every time

better at that than I am. What I am good at is getting out there and working with partners and stakeholders from across the employment and public sector to improve the prospects for our businesses and individuals across the region. That’s what gets me up in the morning.”

Guiding lights Melton admits she’s been fortunate to benefit from the mentorship of others, particularly Sir Bill Moorcroft at Trafford College, and Sir Frank McLoughlin, Associate Director of Leadership at the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), who she has worked closely with on both the Independent Commission on the College of the Future programme and

as part of the steering group for the ETF’s leadership development programme. The College of the Future initiative, which started in March 2019, is just the kind of big-picture thinking on which Melton thrives. “It’s right up my street to think about what FE might look like in colleges across the four nations in 10 years’ time, and I’m the English principal who sits on that,” she says. “One of the speeches I used quite regularly is that if you look at the issues that are ahead of us as a nation – and at that time it was about Brexit and potentially losing skills and local pockets where you need to level up – then the obvious answer to that is the college sector. “Colleges exist in almost every town, they understand local and regional needs, they have very strong relationships with stakeholders – employers, community stakeholders and local authorities – and they have the capacity to adapt quickly. Why not think about how to use that sector to solve the question of productivity and skills in the future?” Leadership development is another theme close to her heart. “The job of leader in an FE college is very challenging, in part because no two colleges are the same,” she says. “One of the great benefits of further education is the fact that it is responsive to the needs of the area in which it’s located. But that does mean it’s difficult to prepare leaders to be able to work in such a diverse range of institutions. We need to make access to that senior leader role, or tier 1 or 2 jobs, easier by having a clearer purpose and national direction of travel for FE colleges and a more robust investment in staffing.” There are early signs this is starting to happen, she says – grounds for optimism perhaps in what remains an unsettling landscape. “I’m encouraged by the more recent noises coming out of government about the importance of the role that FE colleges have to play in the future of the workforce nationally,” she says. “As a nation, we need to embrace adult lifelong learning to make sure that everyone can contribute to the economic security of the country, particularly post-coronavirus. FE colleges should be at the heart of that.” NICK MARTINDALE is editor of InTuition


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Calculated response The unprecedented cancellation of exams requires tailored approaches to be adopted when determining results. It all depends on the qualification in question, says Phil Beach hen you heard that GCSEs and A Levels for summer 2020 were being cancelled, what was your first thought? I expect that, like us at Ofqual, your instinct was to protect the interests of learners. We didn’t want learners to be disadvantaged from either making progress or taking their next steps as they had planned to. As a teacher or trainer in the further education (FE) sector, you already know there are a wide variety of qualifications, taken by a wide range of learners for many different purposes. It is complex! That’s why, when determining how best to resolve this situation – minimising disadvantage, adhering to the principle of fairness – we’re not taking one approach. A single solution did not fit all qualifications or meet the needs of all affected learners. For those students taking GCSEs and AS and A Levels, a calculated approach is the fairest way for them to receive a grade this summer. School, college and provider-based assessment already has an important role in many of these࣢qualifications.


Fair result

As teachers, you know your students well, and you are highly experienced in making assessment judgements. That’s why you are being asked by the exam boards to provide Centre Assessment Grades for students and to rank students within each of those grades. You’ll have a good idea of what grades your students would have achieved had they been able to take their exams

and a wide range of evidence available to support your judgement. And the evidence is that teachers can rank their students in order with a high degree of accuracy. That’s why providing these two key pieces of information – the grade and the ranking – will enable exam boards to issue the fairest possible results. We are clear that learners taking vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) should not be disadvantaged. As far as possible, they should receive results this summer, so they can progress into employment, FE or higher࣢education (HE). But of course the solution for VTQs must take into account both the purpose of a qualification and the assessment methods used. That’s why we have set out a principles-based framework that gives awarding organisations the flexibility to deliver fair, valid results within their qualifications’࣢context. This framework gives awarding organisations a set of parameters, within which they can make informed and evidence-based professional judgements on the right approach for each qualification. Yes, this may mean that different approaches will be taken for similar qualifications, depending on the circumstances that apply. But the framework provides the consistency around how awarding organisations make their decisions, and we’ll be working with them to achieve common approaches where that’s appropriate. So what does this mean for you and your students? For learners taking qualifications primarily used for progression to FE and HE, such as Applied

Generals and Technical Awards, they should expect awarding organisations to take all reasonable steps to provide them with a calculated result. Your organisation may need to collect and provide information to the awarding organisation so they can calculate that result.

Last resort

Some qualifications directly signal occupational competence or operate as a licence to practise; many of these have observations and practical assessments at their core and a calculated result wouldn’t be valid or reliable. For these qualifications, you should expect awarding organisations, where possible, to be adapting their assessments to enable results to be issued. That leads us to the qualifications where adapting an assessment may not be safe or viable, or where adaptation might lead to the qualification not meeting employers’ needs. So you can expect that there will be some qualifications where there is no option but for the assessment to be delayed until learners can take them as originally intended, but this is very much a last࣢resort. As far as practical, we have consulted with teachers and education leaders across the sector as we developed this approach. Your co-operation, flexibility and professional judgement will continue to be invaluable as you work to protect the interests of your learners and secure the grades they deserve.

PHIL BEACH CBE is executive director for

vocational and technical qualifications at Ofqual


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An acceleration of the use of education technology (EdTech) is likely to be one of the longer-term impacts of coronavirus in the education sector, helping to connect students and teachers away from the classroom or the traditional face-to-face mode of delivery BY JO FARAGHER efore coronavirus hit, lots of teachers were dipping their toes into EdTech. Then everything closed and they were thrown in the deep end,” says Peter Kilcoyne, co-founder of educational technology consultancy Transform Education, who describes the frenetic weeks that followed school and college closures in late March 2020. While some institutions were already well versed in using technology in their teaching, for others it was a steep learning curve as they got to grips with delivering lessons over video and working out ways to receive and assess assignments remotely. Groups such as the Blended Learning Consortium, to which Kilcoyne is a consultant, pulled together a series of webinars to help college staff get the best out of virtual learning environments (VLEs) or platforms, such as Microsoft 365 and Google Classroom. The Education and Training Foundation’s (ETF’s) own professional development tool, the Enhance Digital



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Teaching Platform, continues to offer its short digital courses in areas such as blended learning and the ‘flipped classroom’. “It’s been a good opportunity to move the whole of the workforce to think more digitally and make more use of these tools,” says Sally Betts, a digital learning specialist from ideas4learning. “If colleges were reticent before, or didn’t see the benefits, they will now.” Vikki Liogier, national head of EdTech and digital skills at the ETF, believes the pandemic has removed practitioners from their comfort zone. “It has forced them to rethink their pedagogic approaches and explore new

ways of delivering teaching and engaging learners in learning activities,” she says. “Research by the ETF between October 2019 and February showed that VLEs, followed by search and collaboration tools, were the most used, and we can only assume their use in remote learning and collaborative activities has broadened since the lockdown.” Suddenly having to deliver education remotely – with little time to trial systems – meant teachers had to quickly figure out what worked and what didn’t. Simply replicating the daily class schedule over video conferencing systems was not always the best approach. “It’s about really understanding the problem you’re trying to solve,” explains Paul McKean, head of further education and skills at digital education body Jisc. “You



CITY OF WESTMINSTER COLLEGE City of Westminster College was the first institution in London to be named a Microsoft Showcase College. Blended learning and using platforms such as Microsoft Teams are business as usual for its students, but have been life-transforming for one student who is hearing-impaired. “He had never communicated with his classmates and then he found his voice,” says Esam Baboukhan, e-learning manager at the college, who has been recognised in the EdTech 50 as a leader in this field. The student, Kabir, was used to being accompanied by a sign language interpreter in class. But neither Baboukhan nor Kabir’s classmates were able to communicate in British Sign Language themselves. Microsoft Teams allows Kabir to converse with other students or ask questions about what’s being taught. “The first time I introduced Teams into the class was a special moment… it has given Kabir a voice,” says Baboukhan. The college also makes use of other tools in Microsoft 365, such as immersive reader options in the Edge browser (which can read webpages or PDFs aloud), and Stream, where teachers can upload videos and create transcripts using in-built artificial intelligence. Microsoft 365 is not in itself a virtual learning environment (VLE), so Baboukhan and his team are looking into LMS 365, a learning management platform that enables teachers to create and store courses as they would with a VLE.


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have to think about how you replicate the structure you would normally have, such as aims and learning outcomes, how you’ll show that at the end of the lesson, and set assessments so you can see students have understood.” And with all students at home, there have been accessibility considerations. “You have to think about the ability of the learner to participate,” adds McKean. “So make sure teaching is not just synchronous [ joining a ‘live’ class] but can also be done offline or reviewed later.” Accessibility issues should be a central aspect of EdTech investment anyway – the coronavirus situation has simply sharpened that focus, argues Alistair McNaught, an e-learning accessibility consultant. “Simple things such as students knowing how to follow up after the lesson helps those with disabilities or mental health issues who may not be able to do the work until they feel up to it,” he says. “Programmes that allow students to ‘build’ a good essay or critique a bad one, rather than setting everyone 1,000 words to write in a certain time, means people can work at their own pace.”

Existing capability The good news is that there is already a host of familiar accessibility technology: Google Translate can help with language barriers, Microsoft PowerPoint can create closed captions in a slideshow and read them aloud, and Word has changeable text and background colours that can help students with dyslexia. Esam Baboukhan, e-learning manager at City of Westminster College, says that existing tools can “satisfy 95 per cent of our needs, we just need to learn to use what we have effectively” (see panel, right). With numerous EdTech providers offering free trials of their products as learning moved remotely, this reinforced the need to take an objective and critical approach to digital investment. “In the absence of evidence, educators may jump on solutions that look flashy and clever, when they might be fine with what they’re already doing,” explains Dan Sandhu, CEO of maths platform Sparx, which is part of the EdTech Evidence Group. “The technology that is successful is




This allows teachers to import existing lessons in common formats such as PDF and PowerPoint and add rich content such as virtual field trips, quizzes and other activities. They can also create activities from scratch in Google Slides and add extra elements with Nearpod, share live sessions to students’ devices and generate real-time feedback.



The ETF’s own professional development platform came into its own as FE teachers and trainers quickly had to shift learning online due to coronavirus closures. It includes bitesize sessions on how to set up activities in a digital learning environment and personalising teaching to ensure it is accessible. Participants can earn badges aligned to the ETF’s Digital Teaching Professional Framework.



Teachers can share ‘grids’ with classrooms or groups remotely, uploading videos and setting questions for students to complete. They can record, review and share their own videos in response. It’s great for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teachers, for

example, who can use it to demonstrate pronunciation and help students improve their own language learning.





Similar to productivity apps such as Trello, Padlet acts like a digital noticeboard where teachers and students can add text and audio files, videos, images and links and group them into topics – “from spreadsheets to selfies to Spotify”. Colleges and other institutions can create a private network where the content can be shared and viewed, and users can connect with one another.

Wakelet is a way for educators to bookmark articles, resources, videos and social media posts and curate them. They can use it to share resources with students and colleagues, collaborate on group projects or create newsletters. It can also be used to curate teaching ‘moments’ for professional development purposes, such as conference notes or lesson take-aways.


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grounded in pedagogy and evidence and can create a blended experience built around teaching.” He advises teachers to ask a number of questions of themselves and potential suppliers: What are their priorities – improve behaviour or increase attainment? What types of evidence are available – objective data or just anecdotes? Is the product based on evidence or just following trends? “They need to challenge, challenge, challenge. Ask ‘why should I spend my limited budget on this technology? Prove to me it makes a difference.’” Daisy Christodoulou, author of Teachers vs Tech: The Case for an Ed Tech Revolution, remembers the excitement in the early 2000s when schools and colleges clamoured to buy interactive whiteboards that promised to transform teaching. Instead, thousands simply used them to display pre-prepared slides, meaning an expensive investment went to waste. “There are still lots of fads out there, solutions in search of a problem,” she says. “But there are also lots of solutions that add to teaching or are adaptive.” She points to systems that have banks of questions, videos or explanations that present the next task or question based on what a student has input already, or those with algorithms that adapt to the learner. “They’re trying to do what a good teacher would do by responding to an individual student – language learning app Duolingo is a famous consumer example,” she adds.

Digital journey To get real value out of EdTech investments, it’s crucial that teachers are given the opportunity to focus on their own digital professional development. “The Covid-19 situation has made this issue much more acute, but adequate support for teachers in both developing their own digital skills and having a fuller understanding of the digital skills their students will need to enter the job market is important whatever the circumstances,” says Caitlin McMillan, a teaching and learning consultant with the London Connected Learning Centre.

KNOWING HOW TO FOLLOW UP AFTER THE LESSON HELPS THOSE WITH DISABILITIES OR MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES “Technology itself won’t solve a problem unless the underlying rationale is sound and those using it have adequate training and time to feel confident.” Resources such as the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform and the Future Teacher Project, which looks at the skills teachers will need to equip students in a digital employment world, are a good start.


While new EdTech suppliers springing up all the time offering the latest in artificial intelligence, robotics and augmented reality, the education lockdown has shown many teachers just how much they can do with their existing investments in technology, and given them inspiration to take it further. “What Covid-19 has unlocked is the creativity and readiness of the sector to come together to address remote working challenges and ensure an uninterrupted learning experience where possible,” concludes Liogier. “We must build from this episode by continuing to explore new learning spaces and by further facilitating the embedding of EdTech-enhanced teaching, learning and assessment.” JO FARAGHER is a freelance journalist and former editor of TES Magazine

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT For those wanting to develop digital skills and prepare to teach courses for the new digital entitlement, the ETF has a range of online modules mapped to the Essential Digital Skills national standards issued in April 2019. Visit enhance.etfoundation. for more information. We have also produced A Guide to EdTech and Essential Digital Skills Training to Support Remote Working. The guide identifies and provides links to EdTech and essential digital skills training modules on the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform which can contribute to developing the knowledge, skills and understanding required for teaching and learning online. Our latest series of free online webinars will help you to get the best from use of technology to support your students based at home. Topics include areas such as engaging and supporting learners in virtual learning environments and adapting content quickly for delivery online. content/pages/resources-forremote-working Ensuring all students are able to access EdTech resources is vital. The following can provide support for teachers:

11 modules on accessibility:

enhance.etfoundation. accessibility

10 modules on dealing with differences and inclusion:


Check out our Awarded Practice wall:



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N O I T A C U D E FOR ALL nal o i t a c d l edu nd value a i c e th sp cluded a ucation i w s rner es feel in rther ed a e l fu ng liti Maki d disabi he role of s an art of t LMES d e e TH HO E p n B l A IZ ita BY E L is a v


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n our diverse world, there is an ever-present need for inclusion. In educational institutions, where neurodiversity in particular – variation in the human brain – can pose challenges of access for learners, inclusion is the key to helping young people to thrive through learning. Teresa Carroll is national head of inclusion at the Education and Training Foundation (ETF). “We have moved away from the deficit model of disability and now work in terms of inclusive teaching and learning practice for everyone,” she says. In June 2019, the ETF announced three Centres for Excellence in SEND: City College Norwich, Derby College and Weston College. These flagship centres provide expert support regarding SEND and neurodiversity. “They help organisations to put learners with SEND at the heart of their work, to do inclusion well,” Carroll explains. “They have an inclusion philosophy. Everyone wins when we get inclusion right. It makes business sense and it makes education sense.”



Approaches to inclusion Sarah Le-Good is director of inclusion at Derby College Group, one of the ETF’s Centres for Excellence. She feels it is important to take many approaches to enabling young people to achieve. “We co-ordinate inclusion support for all students, regardless of need,” she says. “We offer careers advice and guidance as well as effective planning for transition into work. This way we really get to know the person and aim for seamless support.” Experts working in the field have found that the language around SEND is not always helpful. “We don’t have ‘SEND’,” Le-Good explains. “We have young people with inclusion needs rather than special educational needs. We are moving from ‘support plans’ to inclusive



teaching and employment plans. The emphasis is on how students develop skills to manage their own inclusion needs and on teachers to teach inclusively.” In all settings where inclusion takes priority, the continuing professional development of staff is key. At Derby College, young people are asked to deliver sessions where possible. This is sometimes done with teachers who have inclusion needs too. “It’s powerful learning for staff to hear from students about the changes that can be made to improve inclusion, and also about the impact on learning when those adaptations aren’t made,” Le-Good explains. It is essential to develop good communication, not only with young people, but also with whoever young people want to communicate with. “We help teachers and young people to manage the internal environment in a classroom so that inclusion is not hidden,” Le-Good says. “These conversations can be hard when a young person has a hidden need. We support them to be open with other students and encourage them to talk about strengths rather than needs. It is a celebration of positives!” These sentiments are shared by Carroll. “We all have support needs of some form or another,” she says. “That is a core message of inclusion. People should not feel ‘different’. We must ensure that there is something for everyone in our learning environments. Across the whole sector, inclusion works well when we are listening and talking to each other, when we develop links between home and further education providers so that we can keep the conversation going.”

Effective strategies There are some strategies that all settings can employ to improve inclusion. Carroll suggests getting to know learners through the information you receive from previous settings as well as links with parents and carers.


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“It is important to understand fully where the learner is coming from,” she says. “We need to have healthy conversations and look beyond diagnoses. Process and strategies must support the learner rather than the other way around.” The need to know your learners is also emphasised by Dr Janet Goepel, senior lecturer in inclusion, and lead for SEND, at Sheffield Hallam University, and coauthor of A Critical Guide to the SEND Code of Practice 2015. “Find out how the young person wants to learn, what their interests and aspirations are, and form a partnership with them which enables you both together to agree ways in which learning can take place,” she advises. “Show the young person that they have value and they matter and can make a valuable contribution to society. Clear, achievable targets should be jointly set, leading to focused outcomes which are regularly reviewed under the graduated response of assess, plan, do, review.”

Sajid Mohammad is an academic support worker in a large FE/higher education setting, and provides learning support in class to FE students with special educational needs, as well as one-to-one tutorials with any FE student who requests them. He identifies three powerful strategies when working with learners with SEND: pre-teaching, worked examples and assigning competence. “Pre-teaching involves introducing learners to key elements of the curriculum such as underpinning skills or subject-specific vocabulary in advance of lessons,” he says. “This can be done in one-to-one tutorials by a learning support practitioner or as a short session before


the main lesson by the lecturer. This can be a great way to allow equality of opportunity and encourage confidence. “Worked examples are an effective way to model how to complete a task. Begin by walking learners through how to tackle a particular task. Use questioning to check their understanding. If they’re still unsure, model a similar task again, breaking it down more. “Assigning competence is about recognising when learners have achieved something of great value, especially when it benefits the whole class. It may not happen straight away but, in time, learners will grow in confidence and feel more secure about their learning.”

Inclusion from a distance Supporting inclusion through a global pandemic can present its own challenges. Jane Vivian, project manager for new initiatives at Weston College, and lead at the ETF’s Centre for Excellence in SEND, has been instrumental in setting up #MyVirtualCollege, which helps to ensure that learning continues through the challenges of social distancing. With the prospect of working around Covid-19 for some time, addressing inclusion needs is essential if no learners are to be left behind. “For our learners with SEND, the creation of a virtual timetable has been a real challenge for staff skills development, not just in learning new digital skills but also creative ideas to teach virtually, and for learners with little to no interaction with digital learning,” Vivian explains.


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The Inclusive Practice team at Weston College has embraced this to ensure the needs of learners with SEND continue to be met during this time. “Delivering learning and support digitally has not been without its teething problems,” Vivian says. “Over the past few weeks we have seen learner engagement with our online curriculum gain a staggering level of momentum and positive engagement. The feedback from learners and parents has been positive, and we are continuing to adapt what we are doing in response to feedback.” For Carroll, teaching and learning through the adaptations that pandemics demand means paying special attention to inclusion. “Inclusive teaching and learning means thinking about your learning environment, and asking yourself how you present,” she says. “Do you give learners enough time to consider things? In the current context of much more learning taking place at a distance, are we aware of how exhausting this can be for all learners, especially those with inclusion needs?” Central to all approaches to inclusion by the Centres for Excellence in SEND and other settings in the FE sector is the acknowledgement that it must embrace all, and not be limited by diagnoses and plans. Diversity exists; it is an accurate reflection of the vibrant world in which we live. Inclusion, therefore, is key to helping young people thrive and make a healthy transition into adult life. ELIZABETH HOLMES is a freelance writer and author

specialising in the education sector. She also teaches on under- and postgraduate education courses in HE



BUILDING INCLUSION Joe Baldwin is assistant principal, learner journey, at Bridgend College. Here, he offers advice on inclusive practices in FE settings: TRANSITION IS KEY

Link with schools to ensure timely information sharing, develop relationships with parents/carers and ensure that learners have a personalised transition plan.


Enable and empower a young person to manage their own learning journey through the use of assistive, adaptive and accessibility software. Fantastic free and built-in features are now commonplace in much of the digital technology used within colleges (Microsoft 365 and Google’s G Suite for Education).


Following basic principles or a checklist when preparing sessions, digital resources and handouts will create a better learning experience for everyone. Adjusting and adapting delivery, teaching and assessment is the responsibility of the teacher.


Don’t be afraid to link with the learning support team within a college and ask for support and advice. Colleagues might have some fresh ideas, some tried and tested approaches or may just be a supportive ear to bounce some concerns or ideas off.


Coming to college isn’t just about engaging in timetabled lessons. The start and end of a college day, break times and unstructured times can bring huge amounts of uncertainty and anxiety. It’s essential to think about how learners can be supported to develop and enhance skills for life.


We use and promote the idea of ‘take up time’. It can be tempting to fill a silence, to layer further clues or reword a question, but silence is good. Allow learners time to think and reflect.


Be clear on session outputs and the structure for a session. Use visuals to support text and don’t rely on heavy blocks of text or PowerPoint presentations.


We often rely on written assessment methods that don’t allow for creativity or other approaches to demonstrating learning and knowledge. Recorded discussions, screencasts, debates and visual representations can help to add variety and enable learners to translate and transfer their knowledge into demonstrable࣢outputs.


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RISING TO THE CHALLENGE Independent training providers are a vital part of the further education mix, and one that has responded admirably to the challenges posed by Covid-19 BY VICTORIA HOLLOWAY

striking feature of the further education (FE) sector, and one which attracts a steady stream of teachers, trainers and learners, is the breadth of choice and collaboration across its environments. But with choice comes complexity and often misconceptions around what FE providers should look like. While the majority of FE is still delivered in a college environment, there is currently 10 times the amount of independent training providers (ITPs) – 2,500 in total – across the UK, according to a recent report by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP). But despite the volume of ITPs nationally, the report also highlights the multitude of challenges they face as a relatively ‘unrecognised and under-researched’ area of TVET (technical and vocational education and training) provision. These challenges have undoubtedly become more visible during the Covid-19 pandemic. Providers still need to sell their courses to run effectively as a commercial business, without compromising the unique learning experience they offer from industry experts, and sector specialists. On a more positive note, the experience has shone a spotlight on the strengths of ITPs, the country’s diverse FE landscape and its robust links with industry, which combined make it a vital part of supporting the economy.


Pulling together In response to the national lockdown and all 2,500 ITPs closing their physical bases, many teachers and learners in the sector embraced the power of online technology, live-streamed interactive lessons and provided virtual support to ensure learners could continue their studies. This demonstrates the sector’s emphasis on collaborating internally and externally, rather than recreating ways of working. Training providers offer much more than just a place to learn; many are also a support system for social inclusion and social mobility. Dr Barbara Van der Eecken, director of quality and service standards at Babington


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and vice chair of SET’s management board, recognises the difficulties Covid-19 has had on the sector but believes the ongoing need for contingency planning creates a stimulating place to work. “My motivation has always been about getting the best out of people, sharing best practice and finding solutions,” she says – a sentiment very much reflected in her position on the SET management board. Babington has an in-house solutions team that works closely with trainers, including a dedicated team to support learners remotely, which has been more important than ever over the last few months. “One of the key challenges – but also unrealised strengths of ITPs – is our ability to adapt,” she says. “Although this can create a level of insecurity, we are an extremely proactive part of the sector.”


Above and beyond Beyond helping their learners, many providers have been instrumental in fundraising and delivering frontline support to healthcare settings. Over 250 health and social care apprentices from GB Training – armed with facemasks and sterilising facilities – have been redeployed to care homes to alleviate pressure on nurses. Teachers from the same provider have also been contacted by local hospitals to join an emergency list of staff. Private providers with their own charitable foundations have also been stepping up. One firm in County Durham, Learning Curve Group, donated more than £20,000 to an emergency Covid-19 fund to help community groups working with those worst affected in the area. Amazing Apprenticeships, meanwhile, partnered with a wellbeing coach to run a series of motivational webinars to boost morale in businesses that are supporting apprentices while facing their own financial challenges. “We’re building a real sense of community and everyone is so positive about helping each other,” says director Anna Morrison. Acacia Training, too, has been working with Wellonomics, a software company to enable its own tutors to self-evaluate and improve their mental and physical wellbeing. “It is used alongside a training package for managers to enable them to better understand their teams and engage



ADAPTING TO HELP OTHERS Like many other charitable providers, learning community ELATT serves communities that are in most need of support and skills, across deprived parts of London. As well as IT, English and maths, it offers ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) courses to vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers, and the long-term unemployed. Nafisah Graham-Brown, head of life skills and community at ELATT, says working at the organisation is hugely satisfying. “Whether it’s helping single mothers to provide a home environment where reading is encouraged or equipping a young person with the behavioural skills they need to succeed in an internship, the rewards are vast,” she says. Unlike much bigger ITPs and colleges which address business needs directly, she explains how ELATT offers an alternative to traditional education for hard-to-reach groups. “There are many young people who are not ready for college yet, or don’t feel comfortable in a classroom environment,” she says. “Our focus is preventing those individuals from falling through the cracks.”

staff with the organisation,” says Amy Fowles, quality of education manager. “We have seen dramatic results internally.”

Addressing economic demands With TVET policy becoming increasingly driven by economic considerations, work-based learning and employer engagement have become a priority for national government. As well as accounting for 20 per cent of all TVET learners in England and employing over 23,500 people, according to AELP, ITPs deliver around two-thirds of all apprenticeships. But beyond education, these diverse providers are facilitating employers with practical skills solutions and helping them navigate a complex government-funded system. What stands out are two underlying strengths of ITPs: the ability to adapt and remain agile; and, crucially, how well positioned they are to respond quickly to the current and future strains on the economy. These two elements should help them face up to the challenges of the current climate and beyond. VICTORIA HOLLOWAY is a freelance journalist specialising in the education sector

23,500 The number of people employed in the independent training provider sector, according to AELP*


The approximate number of independent training providers in the UK, according to AELP* * See report by AELP and the British Council at


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The Advanced Teacher Status programme takes individuals on a journey of discovery that will boost their motivation and benefit both their learners and employers aining Chartered Teacher status has been just one of the advantages of colleagues pursuing the Advanced Teacher Status (ATS) programme, according to Em Lowe, vice principal of the Bedford College Group. Her colleague Natalie Morris was in the first cohort to pursue ATS through SET, and has since taken on a new role as quality manager at the college, having started her career as a youth worker and working in a number of SEND roles in further education. Lowe believes completing ATS was a factor in giving Morris the confidence to apply for a cross-college role and become a more reflective practitioner. The college is now looking at supporting future staff cohorts to undertake the programme. The ATS programme was launched by the Education and Training Foundation in 2017, and five cohorts have pursued the status through SET so far. It recognises experienced professionals who can demonstrate mastery in their teaching or training, an exemplary degree of knowledge of their subject area, and effective collaborative working to improve teaching standards.


Any advanced practitioners with a level 5 or above initial teaching qualification can apply – there is a requirement that they have at least five years’ teaching experience and already perform mentoring and coaching within their role. Anyone who achieves ATS also receives Chartered Teacher status, thanks to SET’s work with the Chartered College of Teaching to strengthen the parity of professional status for teachers across all educational contexts. Participants say the status gives them a “badge of professionalism”, and that it supports greater collaboration between colleagues and their wider FE networks. The programme itself runs over 12 months, and participants will need to allow around three or four hours a week to work on their portfolio. Key aspects of the programme include further developing their mentoring and coaching skills with colleagues, creating their own professional development plan, and developing an improvement project for

their college. They must also come up with a final action plan to show how they will develop their practice going forward. At Lincoln College, two teaching staff have completed the programme so far, but the organisation is keen for more to do so in future. The introduction of ATS coincided with developing a new coaching culture strategy at the college so has complemented what they were already trying to do, says Sally Reeve, teaching and learning manager. “Both staff have come out of the scheme as stronger mentors and coaches, supporting others in their teaching practice as well as developing their own,” she explains. One has helped develop a care college within Lincoln with strong links to employers and industry, and is mentoring new starters. Reeve believes ATS can be an effective way of rewarding and recognising teaching staff, particularly those who may not want to pursue traditional leadership roles but want to develop their teaching and pedagogy further.



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Advanced curriculum coach at Lincoln College, teaching young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET)

Teacher development coach and lecturer in initial teacher education, Suffolk New College

Quality manager, Bedford College

Before undertaking Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) and ATS, I completed a degree in social science and criminology through the Open University, a PGCE and a degree in quality assurance. Having worked across different industries in the sector, I was inspired to do ATS because I wanted to continue to develop myself and empower young people through my research. Doing ATS while working full time and having a busy home and social life meant there were times where it was difficult. But I was lucky to have a good mentor who talked me through my ATS portfolio and helped me work the best way. I had many ideas for my project but decided to focus on how food affects learning in the classroom; so, for example, do young people work better when they’ve had a proper breakfast and don’t have energy drinks or chocolate? I introduced a breakfast club where young people could have either toast, cereal or yoghurt. My research looked at what learning took place if we came into the classroom and got straight into the lesson, compared with having a 20-minute session first thing where we discussed current affairs and ate breakfast together. The findings revealed that after breakfast they had a much more productive morning. As a result of my research, we now provide kettles and drinks facilities for staff to use in the classrooms. I’ve also got a new role at college and have introduced a scheme where all students get a free hot drink once a week.

I’ve been coaching and teaching since 1999, during which time I completed my QTLS status. I moved colleges to pursue a role as programme manager of sport, before becoming an advanced teaching and learning coach. This led me to my current path of initial teacher education and the chance to complete my ATS. ATS is a tough but rewarding process. The continued self-reflection and evaluation of your contribution to your own, others’ and the organisation’s development gave me a real purpose, which I believe had been lost a little. My research project was linked to a programme we started to support our ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ teachers. As a college we were going through some tough times, and as a department we felt that most of our support was focused on our underperforming staff. Our goodto-outstanding staff were being left out, which could, we felt, result in those staff unintentionally underperforming. We invited staff to take part in a six-week programme where they could work through a programme identifying traits and skills that made an outstanding teacher. It gave a sense of cross-college collaboration and prompted more staff to share best practice. It re-enforced an already-established open-door policy to staff, which allowed them to confidently ask more questions and try new teaching ideas. This improved the culture of the college to a more all-round supportive approach, rather than just a deficit approach.

I have focused my teaching career on vulnerable groups, teaching for the Virtual School for Looked After Children, covering every age range. I’ve also taught in a pupil referral unit, as well as being a SEN co-ordinator (SENCO) for further education students with special educational needs. When I started ATS, I was an advanced practitioner and course manager so I was already in a position where I was able to effect change within my department. I knew that my role and skillset was changing and wanted to spend more time reflecting on what that was and honing my skills. The project for my ATS portfolio gave me the opportunity to work with our equality, diversity and inclusion lead. The real focus was about the divide in access to HE students in terms of their outcomes. Over the last five years, research by the awarding body revealed every year that, based on students’ postcodes, we can tell at the beginning of the course whether they are likely to pass or get a high or a low grade. We wanted to improve the outcomes for students who, by postcode alone, might struggle. The experience gained completing ATS has already started to have an impact on my organisation, especially now I am responsible for professional development across the College Group, which comprises over 1,000 members of staff and 15,000 students. As a practitioner, it has given me an avenue to lead my staff but has also confidence in my own skills as well.



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THEKNOWLEDGE Rethinking learning Vocational, practical and creative education is different. So why are we being urged to teach it in the same way as academic education, ask Melanie Lanser and Kate Martin he bread and butter of a further education (FE) curriculum is vocational, technical and creative education. Frequently, FE students have not excelled in an academic curriculum in school and are seeking alternative ways to experience success. Approaches to teaching, learning and assessment significantly differ in academic and practical learning. Focusing on the academic content of a curriculum and assessing through high-stakes examination gives rise to the case for pedagogy ‘as science’. Neuroscience and cognitive psychology provide rich information on the cognitive functions of the brain, and there are evidence-based strategies which are effective in enhancing knowledge learning. Teachers are being urged to apply the best available evidence to inform practice. Pick up any recently published ‘teaching’ text and the likelihood is you will be reading about cognitive load, interleaving and spaced practice, elaboration and retrieval practice. Rosenshine (2012) stated that effective teachers ensure their students efficiently acquire and rehearse knowledge by using

standard instructional techniques. Experiential and hands-on activities come after knowledgelearning. The research underpinning the Education Inspection Framework (EIF) (Ofsted, 2019) draws on work on


memory and learning. Inspection reports published since the EIF went live discuss knowledge acquisition, sequencing and embedding knowledge in long-term memory across all curricula. The knowledge-rich curriculum draws on the work of Young (2008) who conceptualised ‘powerful knowledge’, broadly defined as the ‘best’ available knowledge that exists within a discipline. Young advocated that students deserve to learn powerful knowledge to promote social justice and social mobility, taking disadvantaged students away from the limitations of their environment and their

Overview comparison: A critical thinking framework Academic education curriculum teaching and design

Vocational, technical and creative education


Develops convergent thinking

Develops divergent thinking

Desired outcome

Development of knowledge and associated academic skills

Development of creative and abstract thinking and learning through exploring, imagining and deliberate practice

Aligned assessment methods

Examinations and academic Methods that enable judgements coursework that test only an of what student can do, rather than existing, agreed choice of knowledge what they can remember

Aligned pedagogy

Pedagogies rooted in cognitive psychology to enable students to embed knowledge in longterm࣢memory

Pedagogies rooted in vocational and practical learning to develop practice to theory in a context

Student role

To absorb, memorise and recall knowledge; in higher level academic learning to engage critically with different knowledge

To develop a specific craft and wider skills and sector behaviours such as experimentation, resourcefulness, empathy, imagination and interpersonal skills


Students who have knowledge in Provides different ways of specific discipline(s) who frequently learning and can enable success progress to university for students, and that success allows re-engagement with more knowledge- based learning


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diminished immediate experiences. Pedagogy that ‘works’ in an academic curriculum is not necessarily what works in highquality practical, vocational and creative education. Our education system is designed to fail onethird of young people at GCSE. Many will progress to a practical course in FE.


Different thinking In a vocational course, ‘knowledge teaching’ is not the starting point. Pedagogy that fosters creative and abstract thinking is the key to unlocking curiosity. Students develop knowledge alongside skill development and practice. Lucas et al (2012) contended that a diet of listen-read, talk-write in classroom-based learning is not going to produce the vocational professionals of the future. ‘Doing’ comes before seeing and thinking and human cognition does not proceed in a linear sequence from perceiving to interpreting to thinking, deciding and then acting. They identify four ‘habits of mind’ of the effective practical learner – investigation, experimentation, imagination and reasoning, enabling young people to engage in non-cognitive ‘handson’ learning and interacting with materials and people, problemsolving and learning in context. In doing so, they develop skills, behaviours, habits and knowledge, ideal for those that have not thrived in knowledge-heavy, exam-based education. We know that assessment strategy drives pedagogy. High-stakes exams designed to test knowledge have led to the rise of ‘velcro’ pedagogies. The 21st century brings with it very different employment prospects. Are we heading for an education system that overvalues knowledge ‘for knowledge’s sake’ and pedagogical approaches that succeed in embedding knowledge in long-term memory?

Flawed set-up

MELANIE LANSER is director of teaching, learning and academic research at Derby࣢College

KATE MARTIN is VP, academic and technical education, at Derby College Derby College Group (DCG) is an SET Corporate࣢Partner

The development of workforce skills continues to be linked to a nation’s productivity and prosperity but within our educational hierarchy it is seen as the poor relation, despite the Sainsbury Review (2016). T Levels have predominantly been designed to bring parity between academic and technical education. The curriculum content and work placement are aligned with quality technical education. However, the predominance of exam-based assessments reduces opportunities for authentic practical learning. ‘Testing’ practical learning through exams is antithetical to its nature and poses a threat of excluding potentially excellent technical professionals who are ‘not good at exams’. This could reduce the innovators, creative and abstract thinkers so desperately required in the future. Japan has developed its education system from regulated conformity as it was a threat to the development of a culture of risk-taking and innovation (Keating et al, 2002). Separating knowledge from skills and behaviours is nonsense in practical learning and will diminish life chances. Yet we seem to be heading for a diet of ‘knowledge-transfer’ pedagogy which is a barrier to effective vocational, technical and creative education.


References and further reading Association of School and College Leaders. (2019) The Forgotten Third. Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry. Available at: Bakhshi H, Downing J, Osborne M and Schneider P. (2017) The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030. London: Pearson and Nesta. Available at: Keating J, Medrich E, Volkoff V and Perry J. (2002) Review of Research, Comparative Study of Vocation Education and Training Systems, National Vocational and Training Systems Across Three Regions Under Pressure of Change. Available at: Lucas B, Spencer E and Claxton G. (2012) How to Teach Vocational Education: A Theory of Vocational Pedagogy. Available at: Ofsted. (2019) Education Inspection Framework: Overview of Research. Available at: Rosenshine B. (2012) Principles of Instruction. Research Based Strategies That All Teachers Should Know. Available at: Sainsbury Review. (2016) Post-16 Skills Plan and Independent Report on Technical Education. Available at: Young M. (2008) Bringing Knowledge Back In: From Social Constructivism to Social Realism in the Sociology of Education. Abingdon: Routledge. Weinstein Y, Sumeracki M with Oliver Cavigolioli. (2019) Understanding How We Learn. A Visual Guide. Abingdon: Routledge. World Economic Forum. (2020) Jobs of Tomorrow: Mapping Opportunity in the New Economy. Available at:


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Sharing information

SAM JONES Advanced practitioner, research and scholarship lead, Bedford College Group #FEresearchmeets were a direct response to a conversation between myself and Norman Crowther from the National Education Union at a Learning and Skills Research Network meeting. Almost completing my master’s, I serendipitously felt that there was a need and a space for researchers and lecturers from the FE sector to come together to share their research and ideas. Norman countered that if I felt like that, I should create one and, as I can be rather ‘jump first think later’, I agreed to do just that! That was in November 2016. By January 2017, Norman and I had met to discuss

JO FLETCHERSAXON Assistant principal, adult and higher education, and practitioner research lead, Ashton Sixth Form College Back in 2017, serendipity brought me into contact with Sam Jones and put #FEresearchmeet on my radar and my adventures in all things FE research began. At college, we offer a small range of HE courses and have a small number of HE lecturers who I wanted to support with scholarship. At the same time, as a college, we were remodelling the cross-college CPD programme

the model and funding of the first #FEresearchmeet and in June that year we ran it at Bedford College Group with two keynotes, five presenters and 30plus sector staff in attendance. It wasn’t an easy day; the runway was still out from the students’ fashion show that weekend and we got turned out of rooms so learners could complete assignments. But we kicked off with The Prodigy’s Firestarter and that seem to set the mood. Everyone was up for the challenge and a guest appearance from the Chartered College of Teaching’s Alison Peacock seemed to point to us moving in interesting directions. I don’t think I have ever been so exhausted but so elated at the end of a working day. Everyone was buzzing from the day; the challenge then was to spread that buzz.

to introduce a greater amount of choice for colleagues during the CPD twilight sessions. These two drivers became the catalyst for running #FEresearchmeets and offering action research opportunities to staff. A lot has happened since 2017! We have run two #FEresearchmeets, and I have become a convener for the Learning and Skills Research Network and to date have run four network meetings for FE researchers. I’ve launched #BrewEdFE with colleague Graham Pitchforth, and my latest adventure in all things FE research is launching #FEresearchpodcast with Alistair


Research has always been associated with the higher education (HE) arena but it also operates in the day-today professional practice of the further education (FE) practitioner. Here, we speak to four individuals who are raising the profile of research in the sector

Smith, creating another platform for promoting practitioner research and its value. All of this has been hugely enriching for my personal professional development and my teaching as a PGCE tutor, but it is the ripple effects of which I am proudest. Creating spaces which are well informed, critical and rooted in theory as well as practice is a joy. I liken this aspect of my career and working life to a spider’s web, building a web of connections that are beneficial to me, to my colleagues, to the students we all work with and to those I meet from other organisations. Long may such ‘potentia’ (Mycroft, 2019) continue!


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ANNIE PENDREY Educator in FE and HE and founder of Creating Spaces, she also serves on the Society for Education and Training’s Practitioner Advisory Group

KERRY SCATTERGOOD Adult literacy tutor who serves on the Society for Education and Training’s Practitioner Advisory Group Frustrated by the common deficit approach to professional learning in education, I became increasingly interested in the #FEresearchmeet movement as an opportunity for learning organised by practitioners, for practitioners. My own action research had almost been a secret. Although I took it as part of an Open University module funded by my college, I am not sure any of my colleagues knew what I’d undertaken, and I certainly didn’t share anything I’d learnt. There just wasn’t a community of practice built around sharing such learning. My intention was to create a community of practice to share and value practitioner research, not just in our own college, but in our wider community. We decided to run a ‘mini-meet’, inviting Sam Jones to keynote, sharing the research journey at Bedford College Group. We ran two workshops to enable practitioners to think about developing their own action research for professional development, and we’re running a ‘full-size’ #FEresearchmeet this summer. My own research journey is continuing, as I have joined the ETF’s practitioner research programme at the University of Sunderland’s Centre for Excellence in Teaching Training.

The ripples on the pond effect, the ‘buzz’ created by Sam Jones and the #FEresearchmeets developed by Jo and Kerry reignited my passion for research at a point in my career where I was both studying for my Advanced Teacher Status (ATS) and my Higher Education Senior Fellowship. My ATS journey required me to research, develop a case study, relate to Professional Standards and to improve the quality of the provision for my learners and my institution at the time. However, once this research was completed it needed to be shared and to be an inspiration to others in the profession. So how would this be achieved? This question was answered within my role at the Society for Education and Training (SET) Practitioner Advisory Group; the online community of Twitter, where I met Sam, Jo and Kerry; and my involvement in AP Connect in connection with the ETF and Lou Mycroft and too many other inspirational FE practitioners to list. These inspirational people and organisations created not only ripples but ‘waves’ of enthusiasm for FE research, and so in January 2020 I hosted a #FEresearchmeet in the West Midlands and now work in partnership with Kerry. The ‘buzz’ remains and I have since developed a webinar for SET to support other professionals in action research, in the hope they will present at future #FEresearchmeets or sit among the non-hierarchical, inclusive environment with other professionals reflecting and answering the original question in this article: ‘Does FE research?’


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The rise of the agogies Covid-19 has only accelerated the trend towards learners teaching themselves, with heutagogy creating a more inclusive approach, says Kathryn Langford rovision is widening in the further education (FE) sector, with increases in higher education qualifications, apprenticeships, T Levels and 14-16 learning. Alongside this is an increase in using technology as a source of knowledge and a delivery medium, with a greater reliance on learners ‘teaching’ themselves. This has increased exponentially with Covid-19, and the need for remote classes offered to thousands of learners. For many practitioners planning sessions, it might be refreshing to return to some basic principles of inclusive learning and pedagogical structures within lessons. So where do we stand in terms of ‘agogy’? Many will remember the television adverts of the 1980s with recognition given to Maureen Lipman’s ‘ology’. By those new to the profession, pedagogy is traditionally thought of as the science of teaching children. But the term means much more than this and there has been a debate about its application as it can refer to both the act of teaching and the discourse around teaching. Pedagogy includes “the performance of teaching together



regional specialist lead (West and East Midlands) in English and Maths for the Education and Training Foundation as well as a teacher educator with Advanced Teacher Status. She is also course leader for the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training and member of the Teacher Development Unit at City College Norwich, Norfolk

with the theories, beliefs, policies and controversies that inform and shape it”, as proposed by Alexander (2008: p3). Within FE, pedagogy is about the strategies and approaches used when teaching and, for young adults or those new to a subject or vocational area, this may include more teacher-led delivery and carefully scaffolded learning. Many English and maths students arrive at lessons with existing anxieties, reluctance and demotivation, and so will need this more nurturing approach to learning. Knowle’s 1970 theory of andragogy is linked to adults, assuming that these learners are more self-directed and active. Scales (2013: p106), however, identifies that within FE adults are not always willing or motivated as learners, limiting an andragogical approach. At the same time, 14-19 learners may be highly motivated and keen to be respected, so perhaps the focus should be on the treatment of learners and facilitation of learning, rather than their age, especially as the boundaries between compulsory and postcompulsory have ‘blurred’ since the raising of the participation age and

young people remain in education or training until the age of 19. For maths and English students, teachers require ‘practice’ to take place outside of timetabled lessons, so self-directed learning can be an essential component of future success within GCSE resits.

Heutagogy Introducing a new ‘gogy’, heutagogy, to many within the FE sector will I hope stimulate teachers to think about how they can increase learning using learners as their own teachers. Heutagogy, or self-determined learning, is scaffolded by pedagogy and andragogy and frequently facilitated by learning technologies. Hase and Kenyon (2001: p5) clarify their ideas about heutagogy as an approach “which recognises the need to be flexible in the learning where the teacher provides resources but the learner designs the actual course he or she might take by negotiating the learning. Thus, learners might read around critical issues or questions and determine what is of interest and relevance to them and then negotiate further reading and assessment tasks.”


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Figure 1: Canning’s levels of learning NOVICE LEARNERS ENGAGE WITH PEDAGOGY




A positive attitude towards study An ability to think and work independently An ability to persevere and complete tasks An inquiring mind The Learning and Work Institute identifies “what employers want” and these include: Positive attitudes Self-management Communication and digital skills




In recent months, teachers will have transitioned from classes of collaborative, active and social learning to e-learning and interactive online lessons. A topic might be introduced and guided by the teacher, but the students will have to rely on their own motivation to complete their reading and research and then transfer this to feedback to their teacher and peers or integrate their work into assessment. For many, these will be strategies that they have had to acquire quickly, but in the future teachers and trainers will be able to plan around the development of these capabilities and heutagogical approaches. Heuristic learners are interested, questioning, inquisitive, analytical and studious – all things that teachers wish for in their students. We need to teach learners how to teach themselves, where they reflect upon what is learned, how it is learned and then relearn. The Times Higher Education website lists seven qualities that universities will look for in student applicants. These include:

There is always debate around progressive and traditional teaching approaches. However, the movement from self-directed learning (andragogy) to greater selfdetermined learning (heutagogy) may also enable a more inclusive learning approach, that can be supported by mobile learning and monitored by technology. As shown in Figure 1, Canning (2010: p63) summarises how learners can develop along ‘levels’ of learning from Level 1 (engaging with pedagogy – teacher builds learner confidence) to Level 2 (cultivating andragogy – teacher supports shared meaning and


understanding) and finally to Level 3 (realising heutagogy – teacher facilitates a desire to investigate own learning). In previous editions, inTuition has explored the question whether teaching is an art, craft or science (see issue 32, Summer 2018). By applying heutagogical principles, teachers will be able to ‘craft’ classes, planning independent activities for learners to complete and then work collaboratively, either in class or online. Akyildiz (2019) concludes that in the 21st century teachers should be supporting students to evolve towards greater self-determined learning, using innovative new approaches and methods. Digital technologies supporting this will empower both learners and teachers, with fast expansion of these approaches within FE. Maykut et al (2019) identify that course design, grounded in heutagogy, can identify student as student, student as teacher, teacher as teacher and teacher as student. As teachers in the lifelong learning sector embrace heutagogy, it’s time to leave behind 1980s ‘ologies’ and accept 2020s ‘agogies’.

References and further reading Akyildiz S. (2019) Do 21st century teachers know about heutagogy or do they still adhere to traditional pedagogy and andragogy? International Journal of Progressive Education, 15(6): 151-169. Available at:

Further and Higher Education 34(1): 59-71. Available at:

Alexander R. (2008) Pedagogy, curriculum and culture. In: Hall K, Murphy P and Soler J (eds). Pedagogy and Practice: Culture and Identities. Milton Keynes: Open University࣢Press.

Hase S and Kenyon C. (2001) Moving from andragogy to heutagogy: implications for VET. Proceedings of Research to Reality: Putting VET Research to Work: Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA), Adelaide, SA, 28-30 March, AVETRA, Crows Nest, NSW. Available at:

Blaschke L. (2012) Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning: A Review of Heutagogical Practice and Self-Determined Learning. Available at:

Maykut C, Wild C and May N. (2019). Heutagogy: enacting caring science practices. International Journal of Caring Sciences 12(1): 11-17. Available at:

Canning N. (2010) Playing with heutagogy: exploring strategies to empower mature learners in higher education. Journal of

Scales P. (2013) Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector. 2nd edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press.


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ccording to Imperial College (Ferguson et al, 2020), the UK’s colleges could be shut for some time. So let’s use ‘independent learning’ (IL); a specific teaching method that is not necessarily computer-based. Even if your students are not learning in isolation, this is a great method. When my A Level physics students’ questionnaire asked them what was the best thing about Mr Petty’s course, they answered “independent learning” and “learning teams”. I was furious – neither really involved me. As you


Recovery position

read this, think about why these methods were so popular, and also their many advantages. In IL, students learn a topic which is defined by the teacher, but is not taught. Support and monitoring are provided by students, who also assess work in progress, but in the end the learning is assessed by the teacher. IL can be used as a component of any course and no special resources are required, but it is not an easy teaching method to use. It is highly effective, however, if enough care is given to task design, monitoring and assessment, which need to be ‘tuned’ to the capabilities of the students.

How to use independent learning At least to start with, choose a straightforward factual topic that can be learned in an hour or less.

Then design a ladder of tasks, from short and easy to longer and challenging, that will require the learner to study and learn this topic. If the students have textbooks or other resources, look at how they treat the topic. This might suggest tasks. The tasks need to be appropriate to your students, that is tuned to the group and can be directed or non-directed. A directed task might be a detailed assignment giving a carefully planned sequence of tasks and questions, with carefully chosen specific references. At least one task should make students really think about the topic rather than regurgitate what they’ve read. A non-directed task might quote what the syllabus requires, with instructions to prepare for a test on this. This preparatory work is not marked by you – though you

Independent learning gives students the opportunity to learn a topic that is defined by the teacher but is not taught, making it ideal for the current situation, says Geoff Petty


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Independent learning assignment

Assessment DO

action plan feed forward task on the next assignment target setting


How do I do better next time?

Learning to learn independently

What happened? REVIEW

might ask to see it, or require peer assessment – but the learning from these tasks will later be assessed by your short test. A useful sub-task is to prepare for this test. This focuses the students on understanding the topic, rather than just completing tasks and notes. Many students find it difficult to learn alone. So pair them up to form ‘study buddies’ or group them into ‘learning teams’ so they can help each other. You can set tasks for these groupings, such as peer explaining to teach others, peer assessment or discussing aspects of the topic using phone, Skype or Zoom. The success or otherwise of an independent learning assignment is very sensitive to the precise nature of the tasks you set. They must be tuned to the group.


questionnaire strengths and weaknesses competences

LEARN Why did this happen? one-to-one negotiation with the lecturer or tutor “What did you find most difficult?” “What could you do about that?” learning teams can be used to provide support

Self-assessment Students self or peer assess their own progress perhaps by ticking off your task list, they then test themselves or each other to be sure they are ready for your IL assessment.

even be bothered to forge these, so they are a fairly accurate indication of progress even for them. Monitoring can be close or distant and again needs to be tuned to the group.


Assessment of independent learning

You can specify resources (make them as varied as you can) or you can leave students to find their own. Again, this needs to be ‘tuned’ to the group, but don’t over-help students, as your eventual aim is to develop the skill of finding resources independently.

Assessment can be low heat or high heat, depending on the needs of the students, and should come quite soon after the learning. Some groups barely respond to low heat assessment. Low heat assessment includes self-marked tests, quizzes and so on. High heat assessment includes video presentations, tests or exams. Highest heat of all is a system of tests and retests called ‘mastery learning’.


Monitoring You will have already guessed that the major problem with IL is that students, like us, avoid unnecessary work. There are two solutions, the assessment mentioned later, and monitoring. If you provide students with a checklist of tasks or sub-topics they can tick these off as they work, and you can ask to see this from time to time. In my experience lazy students can’t

GEOFF PETTY is an expert on teaching methods and author of Teaching Today and EvidenceBased Teaching

Independent learning skills If you use IL often you can teach the skills and attitudes required for independent learning. See the last half of chapter 33 in Teaching Today.

The advantages of independent learning IL gives the responsibility of learning to learners; they learn in their own way at their own pace, it provides support, and develops the skills needed for progression. It is greatly enjoyed by students and can be less work for you – see chapter 33 in Petty (2014) for more detail. There is also evidence IL works better than most computer-based learning – see Petty (2009).

References and further reading Ferguson NM et al. (2020) Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand. Available at: Petty G. (2014) Teaching Today: A Practical Guide. Oxford: OUP. Petty G. (2009) Evidence-Based Teaching. 2nd edition. Oxford: OUP.


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TOP T WEE TS Our @SocietyET has been busier than ever, as a means of keeping you informed and letting you share your thoughts and ttips

Please us e and follow ou r hashtag

#SETinTuitio n to see the latest features from inTuition


Adapting to upheaval n early March, when our spring issue of inTuition went to print, it was impossible to predict just how much change was around the corner. Being ‘busy’ has taken on a new meaning as you adapt your teaching and learning environments, grapple with video meetings and keep on top of emails – all while taking care of responsibilities at home. Like you, we have also had to adjust our way of working, so with the entire SET team now based remotely, and face-toface local networking group events on hold, we have grasped the opportunity to make the most of technology. We have upped the number of live and on-demand webinars we produce, including our new Geoff Petty series on ‘Teaching in the time of the coronavirus’. These have included downloadable resources, live polls and question-and-



answer sessions, with follow-up articles and transcriptions from webinars and webchats to sum up all of your insightful comments and best practice suggestions. During this time, we feel it is more important than ever to feel motivated to continue your career progression. Our collection of new case studies from members who have undertaken Qualified d Teacher Learning and Skills status and Advanced Teacher Status can be accessed d in a number of multimedia formats. We have also updated our online libraryy to offer a more relevant selection of eBooks, with more than 11,000 to choose se from. Have you seen what you can download for free? Enter ‘library’ in the search box or hover over the main ‘Publications’ tab on the homepage. JULIA FAULKS is online editor at SET

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Resources, tips and ideas for teaching online

Adapting to teaching and learning online

Learning teams and study buddies with Geoff Petty: SET webinar round-up

So what is the further education system?

Independent learning: a structured approach to corona teaching – SET webinar round-up


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CR: It’s great that people turn to you. They clearly see something within you that maybe you don’t see in yourself. Think of a work colleague that you trust and know well. We like a wise owl! That is a serious strength. SET member: I have a dreadful problem in that I see things from all angles, each point of view, and agonise over which is right. I am never sure I am making the right choice, but only that I am in the process of considering. NW: Finding your purpose is appreciative. It’s about celebrating your strengths and values. You need to ask yourself how often you reflect on your strengths and consider the impact that you most want to have on the young people you work with.



To read the full transcript, visit

LEARNING ON THE WEB Since March, we have hosted the following webinars and webchats on the SET website, with up to 250 of you joining us live for each event. Getting the most out of SET’s online library (Seoud Bemath,

Ebsco’s senior customer engagement manager) Independent learning – a structured approach to corona teaching (Geoff Petty) Learning teams and study buddies – providing students with

support (Geoff Petty) Structuring the learning of a topic – the RAR approach (Geoff Petty) Evidence-based methods to include in your learning programmes (Geoff Petty)

You can register to watch a webinar live or on-demand and download useful resources by visiting To take part in a live webchat on our Facebook group page, or read an edited transcript taken from the event, visit

6,500 followers on our Facebook page

3,200 followers on Twitter

1,000 members on our LinkedIn group: groups/8413932

FIVE closed Facebook groups, with around 2,700 members: SET Group, QTLS, ATS, webinars and webchats, local network groups

Emotional support dogs Jasper and Henry have been helping Katie Davis Stanford and family cope

PET PROJECT We asked you if your pet was enjoying having you around more during lockdown, and we loved seeing all your photos. Several rabbits, cats, dogs and even a sock puppet later, the thread was just what we needed to see – if only we could print all of them!

At the time of print we have around:

Visit to find links to our social media pages and online communities

A live webchat about finding purpose in your role in education, hosted by Naomi Ward, an ICFaccredited coach and facilitator, and Chris Reddy, a coach, teacher and speaker, looked at how purpose can impact your role in teaching and learning. It followed a webinar recording, and can still be accessed on demand. Here is an edited taster taken from the webchat transcript: SET member: I feel talentless. Yet other people seem brimming over with talent. I feel humbled when they turn to me for guidance – they say I know the answers (describing me as a “wise owl”) and I can clarify issues for them, but I am still lacking in confidence.


Rufus has been keeping Sian Mari company during lockdown

Mr Stripey the sock monkey has been overindulging with Karen Littleford

Princess Pickles McWhiskers has been a second pair of eyes for Sherri-Lee Baker


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How did you firstt get into teaching? g? My journey into teaching wasn’t a traditional one. After fter leaving school with th a pretty poor set of A Level results, I worked in a variety of industries ies from lending to recruitment. ment. I settled in the finance ance sector because I found a company I liked. They recognised my potential and I was a director of multiple international na companies beforee the age of 30. On the surface, everything looked great. I was earning a high salary and drove a convertible, which seemed important at the time. But I wasn’t happy at work. I just didn’t see the point of providing “tax-efficient corporate property ownership structures for international developer clients”. See what I mean? Dull. I lacked purpose. Why did you feel teaching was the career for you? At every stage of my career, I trained staff, not because it was in my job description, but because it was something I did well and loved. When I finally admitted it was time to leave my finance role, I became aware of a one-year maternity cover position, teaching office administration, at my local FE college. I applied, was successful and never left! What is your current࣢position? I work at the Guernsey College of Further Education as its professional development and scholarly activity lead. I am also head of teacher and assessor education. Can you run me through a typical day? There’s rarely a typical day. I could be teaching and assessing our initial trainees or TAQA students. Or dealing with professional development funding applications or collaborating on projects,

of their initial teacher training. Most recently, a student asked if she could bring her tortoises in and set up a tortoise race as a starter activity, so her students could become comfortable handling the animals. Of course, I said “Absolutely!”

SECOND CHANCE After initially embarking on a lucrative but unrewarding career, Martine Ellis is loving her decision to move into teaching such as our professional development library initiative. How has the Advanced Teacher Status (ATS) qualification helped you? I’ve always struggled with ‘impostor syndrome’ as a teacher, most likely because I never went to university to do a degree or subsequent PGCE. Instead, I completed my FE teaching qualification ‘on the job’. Achieving ATS gave me an enormous confidence boost, so much so that I am just completing my first year of part-time study for a master’s in education with the Open University. I feel far less of an impostor these days. What’s the strangest request you’ve had from a student? Most of the strange requests relate to the subjects they wish to teach as part

How would you like your career to develop? Sometimes I feel the only available career path for an ambitious teacher is moving into senior management. But often, the higher up you go, the less you teach. The thing I love most about my job is teaching. So I am focused on developing my teaching practice and supporting others to do the same. That’s why working with colleagues doing Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) and ATS is such an important part of my role. It’s also one of the reasons I did ATS – becoming an advanced teacher felt like a significant career development. That’s not to say I’d rule out a senior leadership role in the future, but it would need to have a specific teaching and learning focus. What characteristics make a good࣢teacher? A good teacher is always learning. We need to be obsessed with learning because when we aren’t, it shows. A good teacher also needs to prioritise self-care. Looking after yourself will enable you to give your best to your students. My version of self-care involves dog walks, knitting and not accessing work emails on my phone. And wine, occasionally. What do you most love about teaching? The variety. From the students I meet to the weird things I end up learning how to do through being a teacher educator – shooting, weaving, making cocktails, surfing – it’s fantastic. Guernsey College of Further Education is a SET corporate partner. If you would like to be featured in My Life in Teaching, email


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BOOK REVIEWS FORGET SCHOOL by Martin Illingworth, Independent Thinking Press, 2020 The cover of this book promises a valuable read for those of us educating the young people of today’s culture. The author immediately challenges me as an educator to consider what my students are learning from me and what they are finding out for themselves, and directly comparing the two. Martin Illingworth uses his 18-month investigation into the school experiences of a group of young people as evidence of the ways in which the current schooling system is useful and also a hindrance. He builds upon this to challenge our current curriculum as unsuitable for students. A main theme running through this book shows that the young are proficient in using technology effortlessly to communicate and do research – this is the real world of today and our methods and materials in the classroom are becoming rapidly outdated and further removed from reality. This is not a book that offers solutions; rather, it urges us to begin to ask questions about today’s young and the relevance of the education system. It is a call to engage with the modern world and its inclusion in our lessons. This book prompts lots of questions and self-examination and would be of interest to all educators, across the system. InTuition readers receive a 20% discount on this book with the code inTuition20 at


All books have been reviewed by DR ANNE DAVIS , head of mathematics at Earlscliffe, an independent sixth-form college in south-east England. She is also a cycling and kayaking coach specialising in coaching disabled athletes. She has experience as a manager in industry and teaching at university. Her other interests include chemistry, astronomy and classical guitar.



This book has good reviews and is regarded as an essential text for those working towards the Diploma in Education and Training (DET). It is well set out, with informative notes on background studies and relevant references and has good examples of case studies which well match the topic being covered. This edition has been updated to ensure that the policies and literature are recent and that practice examples reflect current teaching and learning. The chapters have been aligned to meet the 2014 teaching standards and contain information and tasks to encourage reflection and further in-depth study. There is also a new chapter on mental health and emotional wellbeing of both the educator and the student. Critical questions are spread throughout the chapters, linked to comments to assist in further reflection. Links to relevant background resources are given with summaries of the important points. This is an ideal book for anyone doing the DET by distance learning, but will also be valuable to all who are taking this route into teaching.

Beginning with the science of learning and the challenges facing educators, this book explores past and present teaching methods when applied to the classes of today. The concept that education has been looking for transformations due to technology for over a century is discussed. Technology has been embraced throughout the rest of our society but not in education, argues the author. However, this book does not come across as a criticism of the hard work and effort of today’s educators but rather as a recognition of the challenges faced by the profession. The aim of this book is to provide a short guide to what teachers need to know about technology and what it can and cannot do for teaching and learning. A further aim is to encourage educators to evolve their own learning and to explore technology to improve learning experiences, especially in areas where standard teaching methods have not been wholly successful. Alongside is an argument that while technology is vital it cannot replace our memory or learning processes in student development. The timeliness of the publication of this book couldn’t be better with the lockdown in place and educators exploring the possibilities of online teaching.

InTuition readers receive a 20% discount on this book with the code IT2020 at

InTuition readers receive a 20% discount on this book with the code TECH20 at

by Lynn Machin, Duncan Hindmarch, Sandra Murray and Tina Richardson, Critical Publishing, 2020


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