The return to school has meant both teachers and learners have had to hit the ground running with respect to creating a COVID-friendly learning environment whilst allowing learners to thrive. This is no easy feat when accounting for the trauma and life changing experiences that these young people have experienced. This disruption to learning means vocational subjects are beginning to play a big role in education this year.
Vocational subjects as a response to COVID-19 related challenges
At the most basic level, vocational subjects offer a more applied approach to learning than their traditional academic counterparts. For some learners, this applied approach often proves to be a more engaging way to develop knowledge and skills, and ultimately succeed in their learning journey. There have always been, and always will be, learners that benefit from this style of qualification.
With disruption caused to the usual structure of the classroom, we’re starting to see that some learners require more flexibility to successfully re-engage with learning. As we all know, after a long period of abnormality, it can be difficult to revert to what was once considered normality. For some learners, the ability to resume where they left off feels impossible. For students struggling to make progress in their pre-lockdown subject choices, their confidence, motivation, general wellbeing and PE can be adversely affected. Choosing the right courses can play a crucial role in stimulating and motivating disengaged learners, helping to break down barriers to engagement and success.
The key to getting the right courses for the right students
A combination of academic and vocational options can help provide the broad and balanced curriculum school leaders are often striving for. Switching a traditional academic subject such as GCSE PE for a vocational alternative, such as NCFE’s Technical Award in Health and Fitness, not only broadens the subject matter learners are exposed to, but it also helps them to develop a wider range of skills and approaches to learning.
The content, structure and assessment methods of vocational qualifications lend themselves perfectly to learners that demonstrate their best work outside of the pressures of exams. They are great for learners who enjoy applying knowledge to real-life scenarios rather than using it more theoretically.
Many vocational courses have a combined Level 1/2 structure, which means that if learners don’t achieve at level 2, they automatically drop to a level 1, and so nevertheless achieve a nationally recognised qualification. This combined structure offers learners an extra layer of confidence, and decreases the risk of failure. With most vocational courses focusing on internal assessment, learners have plenty of opportunity to flourish.
The most effective vocational subject delivery methods
Although vocational courses can be hugely beneficial for some learners, they can also be time-consuming and difficult to set up, and the last thing schools and teachers need now is an increase in workload. Teachers’ time is precious, especially during this pandemic where every day sees teachers pushed to their limits with extra challenges. Exceptional resources such as iAchieve can be the difference between being able to offer vocational options, and not. Any resource worth using needs to provide a good return on investment – whether this be the time spent developing it, or the money spent on purchasing it. It must be simple and quick to implement, lead to real learning, and be directly relevant to the qualification being delivered. If it can be endorsed for quality by the awarding organisation, even better.
When it comes to vocational subjects, it is crucial that the delivery methods and resources employed are optimal for the learning styles of the students studying them. It is often the case that learners who have a more vocational-based curriculum have an alternative set of skills to those learners who study more ‘traditional’ subjects.
Online learning platforms have many advantages in supporting students’ learning. They offer flexibility and adaptability to both teachers and learners, providing an interactive experience that enhances learning. With the additional burdens teachers face this year, managing workload is more important than ever and online delivery solutions can play a huge role in reducing it. Giving students access to curriculum-aligned, online learning platforms such as iAchieve provides an engaging way of offering continuity and focus.
Perhaps most importantly when considering solutions for vocational options, it should be clear how a resource builds on and is built on the qualification specification. Each iAchieve subject is matched directly to a nationally-recognised, DfE-approved, vocational qualification. iAchieve’s unique instructional design is applied to the carefully-selected specifications, turning them into complete online programmes. Each programme covers all the qualification content, learning outcomes and assessment criteria.
iAchieve has been supporting the successful implementation and delivery of vocational courses in Secondary schools across England since 2016. Our comprehensive, awarding-organisation endorsed programmes help schools to switch to vocational subjects smoothly, with little disruption or increase to workload. The online learning platform not only offers a framework for delivery for teachers, but it provides a personalised learning space for learners embarking on their vocational learning journey.
You can find out more about delivering vocational education by attending the iAchieve Vocational Conference. You can also find out more about iAchieve as a resource and delivery method by visiting www.iachieve.org.uk.
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