The Pathways to Further Education programme aims to raise awareness of FE teaching as a career option amongst final year undergraduates and post-graduates with relevant industry experience, bringing skilled individuals into the sector. Westminster Kingsway College’s recent participation in the programme provides further evidence of its value, as Julie Sinclair, the College’s Associate Director of Teaching, Learning and Innovation, explains.
Our experience of the Pathways programme has been really positive. We worked with four graduates from the University of West London and every one of them was enthusiastic and motivated. It was clear that all of them were keen to find out what teaching in FE would be like following their careers and study in a diverse range of fields including healthcare, law and human resources. We were particularly struck by just how keen they were to engage with teachers and students from outside their own subject areas, including in performing arts, English for speakers of other languages and special learning difficulties and disabilities.
Because the participants brought with them a range of experiences in terms of their previous careers and experience of study, we wanted to understand the preconceptions each held about FE and help them find out more about what it is actually like. They received safeguarding training and were given the opportunity to observe a variety of classes across our sites at Kings Cross and Victoria that illustrated the different levels and teaching styles our staff employ. When asked for their impressions, they pointed to things including the age group of the students, the wide range of subjects on offer to learners, and the very interactive and personal teaching they saw delivered.
We also wanted them to gain an appreciation of some of the skills that can be used in FE teaching, so we provided some one-to-one training on lesson planning and introduced them to some ideas about how digital technology can be used to enhance learning. As a result, the graduates delivered a ten-minute micro-teach and received feedback from a teaching and learning coach. Supporting them in learning how to plan and deliver a short lesson was very rewarding. It also proved mutually beneficial, as a member of the group who had an MSc in Digital Marketing focused their micro-teach on how a college can use Instagram effectively.
It was clear that the participants had derived a great deal from the experience and that they considered it a positive, worthwhile and illuminating time. Reflecting on how it had benefitted them, they talked not just about the practical skills they had acquired, but also the confidence they had gained as a result of observing – and being involved in – teaching. The variety in how teaching is delivered and the resources that are employed across different subject areas were also remarked on, with participants commenting that they had gained a good overall picture of FE.
It was also a success from the college’s – and indeed the wider profession’s – point of view. At the conclusion of the programme, two of the graduates were sure they wanted to pursue a teaching career in FE and the other two were considering it. As mature graduates with valuable industry experience, any of the four would be an asset in FE and we will be keeping in touch with them.
You can find out more about the programme on the Pathways to Further Education webpage.