The further education and skills sector is crucial in equipping individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their careers and personal lives. In a recent blog post by Paul Joyce, Deputy Director of Further Education and Skills at OfSTED, he explores what high-quality curriculum and teaching look like in this sector. This article delves into the key takeaways from his blog and provides insights for educators, leaders, and learners in the further education landscape.
Ambitious and Challenging Programmes
One key factor contributing to a successful learning experience is the design of ambitious and challenging programmes. Good trainers use their subject and industrial expertise to create curriculums that provide learners with a solid foundation for their future education, employment, and personal development. They ask essential questions like:
What content do our apprentices need to establish successful careers?
What do adult learners need to know to progress, achieve, and succeed?
What skills and knowledge do young people require to move forward in their subject and transition to university or the world of work?
Effective trainers also pay close attention to the sequence in which they teach topics. They consider what learners need to know to perform specific tasks at work and plan curriculums accordingly. For instance, construction apprentices must understand mathematical concepts like area and volume before ordering materials, while beauty therapy apprentices need knowledge of anatomy and physiology before designing and implementing treatment plans. This careful planning ensures that learners build their knowledge, skills, and understanding on a firm foundation over time.
Carefully Selected Teaching Methods
Good trainers also choose teaching methods that optimise learning. Common factors include:
Focusing on content and minimising distractions
Allowing learners ample time to master conceptual knowledge and offering varied opportunities to apply that knowledge
Employing clear explanations, demonstrations, and activities that promote rehearsal, recall, and application
Ensuring that learners have securely learned the information, enabling them to remember it over time, not just for the next task or test
Deep-rooted learning helps learners apply their knowledge with increasing expertise and confidence and eventually develop well-informed insights, evaluations, and critiques.
Trainers perform best when they receive adequate support from leaders and managers within their institutions. Access to high-quality training and professional development enhances their subject knowledge, teaching skills, and awareness of contemporary practices. It's important to recognise that delivering training is a complex skill requiring subject expertise and an understanding of how learners learn and how a subject should be sequenced for optimal progress. There is obviously an important requirement for organisations to ensure that staff are getting the right levels of CPD. By doing so, they can provide training that empowers their staff to develop professionally and effectively meet organisational needs.
In order for a trainer to have the most impact, there should also be systems in place that allow them to teach effectively. This includes access to reliable and up-to-date training materials, strong support from managers and colleagues, and a clear understanding of the organisation's expectations. Trainers should be able to engage learners in a safe environment where they can feel comfortable taking risks, asking questions and sharing their learning. By doing so, high-quality training that meets the organisation's needs and leads to successful outcomes can be delivered.
Finally, trainers must ensure that they are constantly evaluating their training programs to identify areas for improvement. This could include monitoring participant feedback, conducting surveys or interviews with colleagues, and adjusting content accordingly. By staying up-to-date with best practices and industry developments, trainers can ensure their training is always of the highest quality.
The insights from Paul Joyce's blog post on high-quality curriculum and teaching in further education and skills are invaluable for educators, leaders, and learners in this sector. By implementing ambitious and challenging programmes, well-ordered curriculums, carefully selected teaching methods, and providing support for teachers, further education institutions can continue to improve and contribute positively to the lives of their learners.