From education to employment

New College Durham and REED NCFE employability learning two years on…

Lindsay Deswert, one of the lead practitioners from New College Durham:

“New College Durham, like many others I’m sure, awaited the responses to Professor Alison Wolf’s review of vocational education with both hope and trepidation. I don’t think any tutor in the land would disagree with the principle that all students should be supported and challenged with a rich and deep learning programme that is aligned to both their personal needs and career aspirations.

So, along came the Study Programme with high expectations for Colleges to tackle the quivering cavity between education and employment. It would be honest to say that a fair bit of head scratching was done, so much so that many headaches occurred in the early days! The key, of course, is that students are sufficiently prepared for progression to their next stage, whether that be higher education, an apprenticeship or further study. The critical element is that of work experience.

So, just how were we going give all students the chance to pursue meaningful work experience? I highlight ‘meaningful’ because, quite frankly, this is the most important word.

In New College Durham, the game-changer – our ‘big hitter’ – has been the REED NCFE blended learning programme, which is timetabled so that it holds the same value as any other lesson. It is also fun. It can be hard to get tutors to teach employability skills well, especially when a) they don’t always have the subject knowledge and b) everything centres around student led pedagogy: which is why we chose the REED NCFE programme because we wanted to ensure that both our students and our tutors were properly supported.

The REED NCFE ‘Study Programme Enrichment’ blended learning programme includes not only short, progression focused and interactive student-led activities but it also includes a tutor interface which provides an easy-to-use tool that enables tutors to teach employability skills successfully. It has made a real difference to both the attitudes of the tutors who are teaching and of the students who are learning.

Finding effective solutions to the rigour of the Study Programme requirements is nothing new, but we believe that using REED NCFE materials has helped us to build both the skills of the tutors and the capacity of the students to find and appreciate their work experience.

The REED NCFE ‘Study Programme Enrichment’ programme has made a huge difference.”

To find out more about the REED NCFE Study Programme learning resources please contact [email protected] or call 0191 605 3303.

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