Introducing vocational pedagogy

The first article in our series looks at the background and future of vocational pedagogy

06 June 2013 / Be the first to comment

In this first article in our vocational pedagogy series, City & Guilds is looking into the background and the future of this ever-more relevant subject.


To begin, it’s important to understand what vocational pedagogy means. Traditionally based on the idea of educational pedagogy – the science, art, and craft of teaching – it can appear to occupy a no-man’s land between taught content and the demands of the modern workplace. As a result, it can be neglected in favour of more controllable factors like qualifications, funding and ‘teacher quality’.


New research from Edge shows that some six million vocational qualifications were achieved in 2012. Ensuring that this future workforce have the skills they need to succeed is vital. Now is the time to move ahead with a thorough consideration of vocational pedagogy. There have been several debates, reviews and initiatives around the subject in the last two years and the results have made one thing clear: excellent vocational outcomes and, in turn, an excellently equipped workforce, require a thorough re-think of teaching and learning.


The 2011 Wolf Report recommended overhauling the qualification system to ensure greater rigour and higher quality and, in the process, re-conceptualised our approach to vocational education in England. This was followed by the 2011 report, Effective Teaching and Learning in Vocational Education by the City & Guilds Centre for Skills and Development (CSD), which concluded that teachers rarely refer to teaching models for vocational learning, and recommended ‘substantial research’ into the subject. 


The 2012 report, How to Teach Vocational Education: A Theory of Vocational Pedagogy, also by CSD, established a framework. It examined successful outcomes for vocational education, teaching and learning methods, the importance of context, and set out next steps on the route to developing an ownable and universally accepted vocational pedagogy. As Lorna Unwin, Chair in Vocational Education at the Institute of Education, University of London, states, ‘Our best practice is fragmented across a sea of inconsistency, and the work of our vocational teachers and trainers is grossly undervalued. It’s time to put vocational pedagogy centre stage.’

Join our LinkedIn discussion group to talk about vocational education and debate the issues in this article.

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