From education to employment

Technical Teaching Fellowships: why apply?

Cerian Ayres of the Education and Training Foundation

Each year, a select number of practitioners who demonstrate excellence in STEM teaching and training from across the Further Education (FE) and Training sector are recognised through Technical Teaching Fellowship awards. These individuals are making a significant positive impact, sharing effective practice in teaching, learning and assessment, and delivering positive outcomes for learners and apprentices of all ages throughout England.

Awarded by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) in partnership with the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, Fellowships recognise the outstanding work already achieved by awardees and the vital role they play in raising the profile of FE technical teaching. Once a Fellow, practitioners have a platform to expand their reach and impact, working closely with sector colleagues, their partners, employers and wider stakeholders to support quality improvement in technical STEM teaching and training.

With applications for the 2023-2024 Technical Teaching Fellowships closing on 25 November, I strongly encourage colleagues to apply. Here’s why.

Support the sector

To be a Fellow is a marker of effective leadership and an ability to influence and support others. As a Fellow, you reach more people across the sector by facilitating CPD, professional discussions and sharing insights, resources, and approaches.

The work of previous Fellows in supporting others across the sector and beyond is inspiring. In his role as learning technology manager at Plumpton College, James Maltby supported teachers with the use of technology in the classroom. As a Fellow in 2019-20, James explored how immersive technology could be used in technical settings and shared the emerging practice from this work with the wider community.

James’ Fellowship work consisted of three key strands. First, he supported lecturers and students at Plumpton College to use 360-degree cameras to create virtual reality films for their assessment and to create learning resources for other students. Secondly, he worked with regional and national FE colleges, employers, and stakeholders to develop students’ knowledge and workplace skills. Finally, he disseminated the learnings from this work via regional and national conferences and webinars.

Peter Jackson, learning and skills lead – automotive engineering at Lincoln College and Fellow 2021-22, has focused on supporting colleagues and their partners working with professional bodies, to build the talent pipeline of electric and hybrid vehicle technicians in the face of a skills shortfall – an issue particularly pertinent during Green Careers Week. In the context of a shortage of technical expert teachers able to deliver teaching and training in such vital areas, Peter’s work has been crucial. He received an Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) Award for his contributions to the automotive sector.

The work of James, Peter, and other Fellows continues to ripple through the sector. You, too, could harness this platform to reach and support practitioners far and wide.

Raise the profile

Quality technical education is widely recognised as being central to addressing significant skills gaps and delivering a successful and thriving economy. However, the work to achieve parity of esteem with traditional academic STEM routes is ongoing.

The 2021 Skills for Jobs White Paper placed technical education front and centre of the skills agenda. Many leading voices are amplifying the message that technical skills lie at the heart of the UK economy and job opportunities. The newly appointed Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has signalled his belief that “A good education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet when it comes to making people’s lives better”. In a recent appearance on the BBC’s TV programme The Repair Shop, King Charles lamented the lack of vocational education available in schools, calling it a “great tragedy”.

As respected and recognised spokespeople and ambassadors for the sector, Technical Teaching Fellows play a key role in raising the profile of FE technical teaching and training. They highlight the need for high-quality teaching and training delivery to enable learners and apprentices to take their next best steps, and to provide businesses and communities with the technical skills they need to thrive.

Join a community

New Fellows join an active technical community of practice that is highly regarded and established as a group of ‘go to’ individuals for FE sector colleagues and wider stakeholders seeking support.

Being part of the community opens doors professionally. Previous Fellows have not only benefited from the funding to support their knowledge transfer activity, but they have also attracted invitations to speaking engagements and media opportunities, and found further avenues to enhance their personal and professional career development.

Seize the opportunity

Applications for a Technical Teaching Fellowship can be individual or joint, two person applications. Fellowships can be awarded in any technical STEM subject specialist area where innovative and effective practice is already providing exceptional learning experiences.

The important thing to remember is that those applying to be Fellows are already making a huge positive difference to our sector. But without Fellowship, they might lack the platform to realise the full potential of their work, by disseminating their effective practice more widely.

If you are inspired to seize the opportunity to apply for a Technical Teaching Fellowship award, I encourage you to apply today. The deadline for 2023-24 is fast approaching, and it could be you realising the boundless benefits of Fellowship next year.

By Cerian Ayres, National Head of Technical Education at the Education and Training Foundation (ETF)

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