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It's about work... Excellent adult vocational teaching and learning

The Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning launched its summary report, It’s about work… Excellent adult vocational teaching and learning, on Monday 25 March 2013 at the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Read the Commission’s report, It’s about work… Excellent adult vocational teaching and learning.

Hear the Commission’s chair, Frank McLoughlin CBE, Principal of City and Islington College, introduce the report’s key messages and recommendations, in a video conversation with David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE.

The Commission’s press notice follows:

Line of sight to work essential for vocational education and training

Vocational teaching and learning for adults should have a 'clear line of sight to work' if it is to help individuals, businesses and communities to grow and succeed.

That is one of the main findings of the newly-released report (Monday 25 March) by an independent commission of vocational education and training experts.

Speaking at the launch of the report, chair of the Commission Frank McLoughlin CBE said:

"This Commission has been informed by excellent examples of adult vocational teaching and learning across all parts of the economy. The best provision we have seen has been collaborative in nature, based on what we are calling the two-way street between providers and employers. It is the partners of the vocational education and training system, working in collaboration, who must now act to achieve the vision we are setting out."

The Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning (CAVTL), which consists of leaders and learners, and teachers and trainers, in vocational education and industry, was established in July 2012. It has been investigating how to further improve the quality and impact of vocational teaching and learning for adults in England, in order to support a return to economic prosperity.

Commissioners have highlighted that the best adult vocational teaching and learning has four factors in common:

  1. It is based on a clear line of sight to work – so that learners see and understand the relevance of what they are learning to the real work context;
  2. It is based on the concept of the two-way street so that employers, colleges and training providers work closely together at every level of their organisations, helping to create and deliver excellent vocational programmes;
  3. It is taught by dual professionals - people who combine expertise in their occupational area, with expertise as teachers and trainers;
  4. It has access to industry-standard facilities and resources – that reflect the ways in which technology is transforming work.

The Commission has drawn on the expertise from all the component parts of the skills system: large and small employers, colleges, training providers, academic partners, learned societies, trade unions, the armed forces and students, apprentices and employees.  It has been informed by a series of visits to see vocational teaching and learning in situ and to draw lessons from practice to theory. Many contributions have also been received through a programme of nationwide seminars, commissioned research, and a rich and diverse evidence base, all of which have shaped the commissioners’ conclusions.

‘It’s about work…’ the Commission’s summary report makes a set of ten recommendations in order to enable excellent adult vocational teaching and learning to flourish, including:

  • Adopt the concept of a vocational education and training system working as a two-way street – based on genuine collaboration between colleges, training providers and employers.
  • Ensure that every vocational curriculum area in a college or training provider should have at least one employer sponsor.
  • Strengthen the education and training arrangements for vocational teachers and trainers, with a new priority on professional updating to help them keep their occupational expertise up-to-date.
  • Introduce a new scheme, called Teach Too to enable working people to teach their occupation a few hours a week.
  • Enable a core and tailored approach to vocational qualifications – a nationally specified core, and a tailored element to meet local demand, giving employers a real influence in shaping skills programmes.

The Commission has been led by Frank McLoughlin CBE, principal of City and Islington College. He has been supported by vice chairs Fiona McMillan OBE, president of the Association of Colleges (2011/12), formerly principal of Bridgwater College, and Graham Schuhmacher MBE, Head of Development Services, Rolls-Royce. The 19 commissioners were chosen for their expertise and insight into the area of adult vocational teaching and learning. The Commission received secretariat support from the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS). 

Welcoming the report, Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: "We have some fantastic examples in this country of vocational education providers working closely with industry and preparing students with work-ready skills but we need to do more to spread best practice.Graham Schuhmacher MBE added: "We must be ambitious about our vocational education and training system, so that it produces a home-grown pipeline of skilled individuals who will enable the UK to compete at the highest level."

Fiona McMillan OBE said: "We have witnessed first-class vocational teaching and learning in a range of occupational sectors.The opportunities for progression to sophisticated higher level vocational learning have been particularly striking. We have seen how by deepening vocational knowledge and skill, occupational standards rise over time. It has been exciting to see how vocational education and training is helping to transform the quality and efficiency of work."

For further details please email Nicola Jones/Claire Gill or call 02476 627964/ 07795 028023.