6 Steps for VET Reform Policy-Makers

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Extract from: How to teach vocational education: A theory of vocational pedagogy, Bill Lucas, Ellen Spencer and Guy Claxton, City & Guilds Centre for Skills Development (CSD), December 2012. Complete report: http://bit.ly/1yJ6bHW

We suggest six specific ways forward.

Step one – making vocational pedagogy part of the System

Policy-makers may like to explore our findings to determine ways in which this report feeds into considerations such as:

Pushing the use of vocational pedagogy in VE teacher training.

Achieving consensus between political parties, employers, regulators, and teachers on the principles which might underpin a vocational pedagogy.

Agreeing a set of desirable outcomes (see below) which will speak to both employers and educationalists and help to raise the esteem of practical and vocational education.

Developing better and more accessible guidance on the kinds of teaching and learning methods which are most likely to produce excellent workers.

Being more specific about improvements to the way apprentices are developed in the medium-term.

Considering the implications for the professionalisation of the vocational education workforce with regard to both initial training and continuing professional development.

Engaging directly with employers about teaching and learning methods as well as vocational curricula.

Using thinking about vocational pedagogy to contribute to better value for money in all aspects of vocational education.

Persuading diverse funding bodies – from economics, sociology, management and education, to invest in knowledge generation around vocational pedagogy.

Promoting practice-based research and development within specific occupational areas in order to find out how to make improvements that work and to support practitioners in making these changes.

Step two – creating and sharing excellence

We advocate the creation of a national centre of excellence for vocational teaching and learning linked to a network of regional hubs.

Step three – putting it into practice

We suggest that a broad and representative group of the organisations which most influence vocational education are brought together to discuss the need for a vocational pedagogy and what practical implications this might have for the vocational education sector. Specifically we imagine they may wish to explore:

Implications for leadership.

Implications for resourcing.

Implications for training.

Implications for further research.

Opportunities for new forms of school such as UTCs and Studio Schools.

Opportunities for the next stage of the expansion of apprenticeships.

Barriers to improving teaching and learning and ways of overcoming these.

While some aspects of the necessary change need guidance from the centre, real and lasting improvements in teaching and learning and in the development of a vocational pedagogy must necessarily be owned by the broader sector.

Step four – engaging practitioners

We propose that a national dialogue with the vocational education sector is initiated, possibly as part of the McLoughlin Commission’s ongoing work, to engage practitioners in discussion about the goal and outcomes of vocational education and the teaching and learning methods which work – all in the light of their perceptions of their context. This might also result in the creation of accessible guides to teaching methods, both generically and with regard to different subjects.

Step five – creating the framework

At the start of our report we noted earlier calls for a vocational pedagogy. We now propose that such a framework document, drawing on our report and the expertise of other specialist centres, be produced. Such a document would be of use as a strategic sector planning tool at one end of the spectrum and as a framework for pedagogic choices within individual lessons for practitioners.

Step six – looking ahead

A number of areas for more specific further research arise from our report. These include: Understanding and creating better coaching in vocational education, drawing, for example, on sports science and other forms and models of coaching. Understanding more about how the flipped classroom can be applied in vocational education.

Developing a more detailed route map and flow diagram, from the considerations we have outlined in our report, to scaffold practitioners pedagogical development and design in vocational education. Continuing to learn from other disciplines. Collaborative internationally, possibly under the aegis of OECD and/or Cedefop.

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