Inspiring innovative teaching in vocational education

Delivering innovative teaching that engages learners is the most important challenge facing tutors

22 July 2013 / Be the first to comment

Delivering innovative teaching that engages learners is the most important challenge facing teachers of vocational courses. Toni Fazaeli, IfL’s Chief Executive applauds the report into vocational pedagogy published by the City & Guilds Centre for Skills Development (CSD), and champions it as a useful model that ‘provides a series of questions to aid practitioners in their decision-making about optimal pedagogy.’

This type of report feeds into the current discussion around vocational pedagogy but it also lays the foundations for more relevant research in this area. There is never going to be a single over-arching vocational pedagogy but guidance is needed. What does innovation look like in a vocational context? And are the the odds stacked against practitioners? 

Innovation requires teaching professionals to have a thorough understanding of not only their vocational field but of the art of teaching. That knowledge can then be used to take risks and do things differently. This requires time and training, and a lot of it. Innovation can sometimes seem at odds with the current delivery structure and the relentless pressure to drive up pass rates. Time is tight, so fail-safe methods are often more popular than risk-taking and trailblazing. 

Engaging all learners is a more well-trodden pursuit and one which many practitioners achieve daily. To be taught by someone who can communicate passion and share their expertise in an inspiring context makes for an enriching student experience. 

Blackburn College is a prime example. Rated Outstanding by Ofsted, its joined-up approach between teaching, training and the industry context has enabled students to flourish. You only need to visit the training salon or Scholars - the training restaurant - to know that providing students with a simulated experience of the cultural norms and pressures of an industry is immersive and engaging in every possible way.

The renewed focus on vocational pedagogy and curriculum development is a welcome one. Practitioners need a teaching and learning framework; one that supports them to make the right choices for their students.

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