Using scaffolding to build resources

One of the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) webinars currently on offer is around creating and adapting resources for embedding maths and English into apprenticeships.

In the sector we often talk about the importance of creating authentic resources that have a direct link and relevance to the context of the apprenticeship. So far, so straightforward. Or is it? Talking to trainers, tutors and coaches, there are a number of obstacles that can get in the way of developing authentic resources.

There’s not enough time in the day. There aren’t enough opportunities for staff to get together and work on resource development. Management sometimes don’t prioritise resource development. Some staff are reluctant to share resources. Some organisations haven’t developed a robust or consistent process for developing and sharing resources.

Whatever the blocker, if we’re not developing authentic resources, our apprentices are suffering as they are missing out on opportunities to explore how maths and English are embedded into their apprenticeships.
So, what resources can we use and adapt? Staff handbooks, induction materials, processes and health and safety signs are great starting points and have huge opportunities for embedding both maths and English. Staff handbooks are usually distributed at the start of an employee’s role and so apprentices are able to see just how important these skills are right from the start – the maths skills required to fully understand a payslip, holiday rota or annual leave entitlement – the English skills required to read and understand information and communicate questions to the employer.

What about those blockers though? We can’t fix time, but we can think carefully about how we use it and how we can collaborate to build resources together. We often talk of scaffolding learning for apprentices. What about taking the same approach with resource development? Teams can work together on or offline to share ideas and, importantly, build on them. Team members can support each other in resource building by asking questions such as:

  • How can we build on it?
  • How can we make it better?
  • How could we use this for maths/English?
  • How could we use this for another apprenticeship?
  • How could we make this work online?
  • How else could we use this resource?

These ‘building’ questions encourage us to nurture the contributions of our team members and build on them. We are listening, scaffolding and building the resources together. This collaborative approach will not only ensure that each idea builds into several ideas but will also encourage team ownership of the process and the resources themselves. This will then lead to a more robust sharing of good practice and, ultimately a better ability to transfer and measure impact on apprentice learning of maths and English.

Jo Small
International executive coach and trainer for the ETF’s Shaping Success programme.

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