Exploring challenges and solutions for delivering Essential Digital Skills in different settings

One of the main functions of the second phase of the Essential Digital Skills CPD programme from the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) is to support teachers and trainers delivering Essential Digital Skills courses in the most challenging settings, notably:

  • Prison Education and the Probation Service
  • Supporting learners with SEND
  • ESOL courses
  • Preparation for Life and Work programmes.

A core mission of the new digital entitlement introduced this summer is to reduce barriers, open doors and enable everyone aged 19+ with no or low digital skills, especially learners in these settings with their particular challenges, to reap the benefits of digital technology. It is therefore a key part of the Essential Digital Skills CPD programme to support teachers and trainers in these contexts to help their learners gain access to the courses for the digital entitlement and develop their skills for life and work as set out in the national standards.

Pathway specific activities have been developed for teachers and trainers in each of these settings including:

  • Pathway-specific webinars with expert panel members to explore the issues of delivering Essential Digital Skills (EDS) in each context
  • Pathway-specific meet-ups that follow on from the initial webinar where practitioners can share practice to help address challenges
  • Pathway-specific forums in the online EDS Community of Practice on the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform
  • Live 30-minute Q&A chats linked to the EDS Community of Practice focused on pathway-specific themes
  • Pathway-specific learning guides on the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform which identify some of the opportunities, challenges, methods and resources that are relevant to supporting learners in that context:
  1. ESOL Guide
  2. Offender Learning Guide
  3. Preparation for Life and Work Guide
  4. SEND Guide.

The first pathway-specific webinar was held on 14 October and focused on ‘Exploring Essential Digital Skills delivery in Prison Education and the Probation Service’, looking at issues of technology barriers and engagement. It featured panellists:

  • Jezz Wright, Head of Digital Learning and Strategy at PeoplePlus, responsible for two national in-cell learning channels
  • Ruth McFarlane, co-director of a new social enterprise working with universities to increase the number of people in prison studying Further and Higher Education, with a particular focus on digital skills
  • Steve Grix, Digital Learning Lead for Novus, who sits on the HMPPS English, Maths and Digital Literacies national steering group.

The session shared a range of practical ideas and received a very positive response from those attending. Comments included:

“Brilliant session, thank you all so much.”
“Thank you so much. Really benefited from this session.”
“Very interesting and informative thanks.”
“Some interesting ideas here, thanks everyone.”
“Thank you, has been great to hear all the great stuff people have been doing.”

The next pathway webinar ‘Exploring Essential Digital Skills for teachers and trainers supporting ESOL learners’ on 21 October included a similar range of expert panellists:

  • Alex Bates, Curriculum Manager for ESOL at Essex Adult and Community Learning, and a member of the EDS CPD support programme Advisory Group
  • Diana Muallem, Qualifications Development Consultant who led the development of Gateway’s ESOL Skills for Life and EDS qualifications
  • Rachel Öner, National Co-Chair of NATECLA and a Regional Specialist Lead for English with the Education and Training Foundation.

The session covered embedding digital skills in ESOL contexts, ensuring ESOL learners can access blended and remote learning, improving ESOL practitioners’ digital skills and the requirements of the EDS qualifications.

Further pathway-specific webinars are available to book now:

Exploring EDS for teachers and trainers supporting learners with SEND takes place at 4pm on 18 November

Exploring EDS for teachers and trainers supporting learners on Preparation for Life and Work programmes takes place at 4pm on 25 November.

For details of other upcoming pathway-specific events and access to recordings of previous events, visit the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform.

All elements of the programme are fully-funded by the Department for Education and are therefore free to the sector.

For information on the overall Essential Digital Skills CPD programme, visit the ETF website.

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