Carol Archer is Head of Health and Social Care at St Thomas More Catholic School. As part of the preparations for the future delivery of the Education and Childcare T Level, Carol completed an Industry Insight placement at St Matthews Catholic Primary School. The placements are part of the T Level Professional Development support offer to provide opportunities for professional updating for teachers that is industry relevant and that facilitates knowledge transfer and professional exchange.
What were your key objectives for going on a staff placement in industry?
We are in the first wave of providers for the T Level and we wanted to ensure the best quality of provision for our prospective students. Attending this industry placement provided me with an opportunity to discuss some aspects of the T Level draft content with early years specialists and appreciate the very different demands faced by staff working in this environment. I have never worked in early years education myself, having been a midwife for many years then moving into teaching in secondary schools. I wanted to see a typical working day, the skills used by staff and the ways they support children to grow and develop. I wanted to appreciate the challenges faced by staff and then use this experience in the planning of quality T Level delivery at our centre.
Tell us about your experience and the highlights from the placement
The early years lead practitioner was excellent in providing an insight into the ethos and approaches used within this setting. Simple time effective communications with parents were demonstrated with information boards and key things students had been doing that week were on display.
I have much better awareness of the ways assessment in learning can be used in early years, in ways that are manageable for staff and non-threatening for children. It was also interesting to see how the children would very often take the lead in deciding activities they wanted to engage in and how every experience the children had during the day was helping to build their literacy, numeracy, independence, resilience and confidence in some way. The opportunity to discuss the organisation’s approach to phonics and letter formation was very useful and the ‘Read Writing Inc’ resource was shared with me, as this is the providers preferred approach to phonics delivery.
A highlight was being able to observe different assessment methods and resources used in school (sometimes just everyday objects). The Forest School and Mud Kitchen were particular areas that the children took delight in showing me and again the ways they were engaging, having fun and exploring their environment whilst supporting learning and social development was obvious for all to see.
What did you value the most about engaging with St Matthews Catholic Primary School?
Overall, I came away really inspired by the things I had seen, and how those experiences could be woven into the delivery of certain aspects of the T Level content. This experience has reinforced the huge benefit of going out there and experiencing the workplace in the same way we expect our students to. I would certainly consider going out regularly, to different settings, so that I can compare and contrast different approaches and bring all of this information back to the classroom, using the experience of the experts to provide excellent experiences for our T Level students in the future.
What has been the impact on you, your colleagues and organisation?
This placement has enabled me to apply what I have seen to my planning. I will also use current approaches and examples whilst delivering the content.
I have started to build a network of colleagues who are keen to support the delivery of the T Level and have already offered to come in to support and deliver some aspects of the T Level content to our students. I plan to take this offer up and include occupational specialists in delivery which will in turn support my staff’s professional development and the learning opportunities of our T Level students.
Following this placement, we should be better prepared to design the delivery of the T Level ensuring we use the most up to date evidence and current examples of effective practice.
How will this positively impact on future T Level learners?
I have relied a lot on textbooks and independent research when delivering content relating to Early Years in the past. Now, the planned delivery of content will be underpinned by current practice and real-life examples which students are likely to see when working with our placement providers, rather than generic examples.