From education to employment

Supporting the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning

Rob Wye is chief executive of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service

This month saw the launch of the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning, chaired by Frank McLoughlin, Principal of City and Islington College. The Commission will explore how the quality and impact of adult vocational teaching and learning can be improved further for learners, and LSIS is providing the secretariat support for the Commission.

I was delighted to attend the Commission’s launch on Wednesday 11 July, which was held at Farringdon Station, the location of a major construction and engineering project, which illustrates the range of vocational skills needed for future economic growth. This station is where Crossrail and Thameslink intersect; when operational it will be one of the busiest stations in the country.

The event also provided a platform to call upon employers, teachers, trainers, leaders and learners to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the Commission.   Frank made clear he wanted ideas and good practice of all kinds – not just learned essays but simple video clips and case studies too, setting out ‘what works’.  Details of the Commission’s call for evidence are available on the Excellence Gateway.

I had already attended the Commission’s first meeting at BAE Systems in Preston, where we saw their highly impressive apprenticeship programme in the morning and then had a Commission meeting in the afternoon, which drew in reflections on the morning’s observations.  In this way, the Commission will derive theory from practice, and develop a framework for future development of excellence in adult vocational teaching and learning.

The Commission was appointed through open application and so is the not the usual ‘great and good’ but the real life great and good of the sector, people with a passion and commitment for the vocational.  Drawn from right across all parts of the sector, and at all levels, the Commission members are committed to making a real difference through their work, not just another report to gather dust on the shelf.

The Commission will continue its practice-focused meetings over the autumn, along with a round of thematic seminars, with a view to an interim report in December and a final report in the spring 2013.

Meanwhile LSIS is undertaking our own internal stock take of our teaching and learning activity, with a view to a clear understanding of which of our interventions has worked most effectively over the years.  Which approaches, which methodologies, which client groups, which groups of learners, have offered the best results and the greatest impact? This review will put us in good stead to be ready to receive and implement the findings of the Commission in 2013.

Teaching and learning has always been LSIS’ highest priority and lies at the heart of what the FE & Skills sector is all about – whether in  the classroom, the workshop, the workplace or the community. That has been reinforced by the focus in the new Ofsted Common Inspection Framework.  The coming year should see a growing importance placed on vocational teaching and learning, and we at LSIS look forward to playing our part in leading that charge.

Rob Wye is chief executive of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service, which aims to accelerate the drive for excellence in the learning and skills sector

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