Practical approaches for outstanding technical provision
Over the last year there has been a lot said about the introduction of T Levels. Since the publication of the Sainsbury Review and the Post-16 Skills Plan the Association of Colleges (AoC) has been working with the Department of Education to get to grips with what they actually are and what they mean to students. Despite the rhetoric, there are still a lot of questions: Who are the T Levels for? What does the transition year incorporate and who can access it? How will the work placements be managed? How does all of this fit in with other 16-19 pathways that the majority of the age cohort will access? One of the most important questions is how can the sector prepare itself for the implementation. Since March, AoC has been managing a project, in partnership with emfec and commissioned by the Education and Training Foundation. This has seen a £1.2 million fund available for 21 college and provider-led projects across the country. Each of these has been trialling and testing practical solutions for developing outstanding teaching, learning and assessment for all students on the future technical routes. Derby College, for example, is leading a project which explores how a problem-based learning curriculum can be used to develop the behaviours, skills and knowledge of engineering students in line with the requirements of the prospective T Levels. Employer partners play a central role in the development of these problems, adding to their authenticity. In another project, Reaseheath College is expanding the use of the ‘lean management’ approach in their agricultural curriculum and implementing it on the college farm. Students are working with employers to plan a project to improve farm efficiency and using lean management to monitor and measure the impact of the changes. Each of the projects involved have made great strides in understanding effective ways for implementing T Levels. The lessons learnt will be finalised and shared widely across the sector, including at AoC’s Annual Conference and Exhibition on 14-15 November in Birmingham. This will showcase two projects; one led by Lakes College with a focus on the nuclear sector, and the other led by South Devon College with a focus on hair and beauty. The introduction of T Levels is an unknown for the sector. This programme has helped to establish how colleges and providers can embrace the new approach. Most importantly, Students and employers will benefit from better teaching, learning and assessment. David Corke is the Director of Policy for the Association of Colleges We are also organising a final conference on the programme in March 2018.