Beginning to Explore Programmes of Study by Steven Keevil @DrKeevil

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 My intention with these blogs is nothing to do with a Teaching/Learning masterclass in lemon sucking or obvious stating. It’s more me developing my thought process by writing it down and sharing that with you. In the hope that you will share your insights, links, pictures of cats.

There will be some element, assuming I write more than 2 blogs, of repetition, maybe even contradiction. The former I ask your indulgence. The Later you to challenge. This will again be primarily focused around Level 1 Programmes of Study, but can be applied to others.

The following is based on ‘Exploring Learning Processes’ from 500 tips for Further and Continuing Education Lecturers.  Anderson, Brown and Race.

(Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tips-Further-Continuing-Education-Lecturers/dp/0749424117)

When I developed my current level 1 course for the new programmes of study, a key focus was what students should be learning. Pre-PoS the course was a Level 1 in Performing Arts with Media and was generally successful, my feeling however was that the majority of students who applied for the course did so more because studying the performing arts was less offensive to them then studying anything else and or they had not had a great time at school.

My general feeling is, if a student is 16+ and on a Level 1 programme, then something hasn’t worked out somewhere, and it’s important to try and find out where.

With PoS there was an opportunity to do something different, which we did two fold. Firstly the PoS was occurring within the Creative Visual Arts Faculty, so we made the PoS faculty wide, secondly the specific qualification that the students were studying was the BTEC Level 1 Diploma in Vocational studies, so we utilised that.

'Value of education is to expose children to ideas across the whole spectrum' Brian Cox #EdShow14

The level 1 PoS that we launched this year consisted of four pillars;

1) The CVA Carousel; this enabled students for the first half of the year to sample everything that the faculty did, Acting, Art & Design, Dance, Media and Music. And whilst they would receive feedback on the the work they produced, they would not be graded on it. Instead their assesment would focus on; Team Work, Reflection, Independence and Creativity. (TRIC Skills) The second half of the year, they would get to specialise in an area they would want to progress onto in Level 2.

2) Maths and English, no matter their age or previous attainment, all students would study maths and English though embedded activities and set functional skills lessons.

3) Personal, Social, Development and Study Skills; for me a major opportunity with Level 1 qualifications and PoS is helping the learner develop as people and students.

4) Vocational Studies; through doing the Level 1 course, we are not saying student’s will get a job in the Creative Industries. So we train them in the areas where jobs do exist in the area (Meeting local needs) these are customer service, hospitality and retail. Then when they pursue their interests in the creative arts, as a hobby, as an amateur, they don’t need to worry about how this will ‘pay the bills’ because the bills are being paid. Hopefully.

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This can be applied to any area of study, so students are still receiving input and feedback in whatever the specialism is, but the focus of the assessment is developing them as Students and People. It’s important to be clear about this with the Learner, they need to want to focus on these areas and see the benefit to doing so (having intrinsic and extrinsic motivation). Learning by doing is essential with TRIC skills, a variation on Personal Learning Thinks Skills (PLTS), activities especially in maths and English need to practice useful things, not just keeping busy. It needs to make sense, get learners to think about home learning is happening, in sequential and holistic ways. Enabling students to become better at learning is essential to ensure that they not only progress to Level 2 but that they succeed, not setting them up to fail.