The ETF’s T Level Professional Development (TLPD) offer supports staff with the teaching skills, subject knowledge, and confidence they need to deliver T Levels. Networks, part of the TLPD offer, enable those involved in T Level delivery to interact and exchange ideas and resources with other providers. In this blog, we speak to Simon Parker, Construction and Engineering T Level Lead at South Essex College, about his delivery experience so far, and why he believes these Networks are vital for collaborating and overcoming any challenges faced.
When did South Essex College first get involved with the delivery of T Levels?
Initially, early on in 2018. I was appointed T Level lead for Onsite Construction and Building Services Engineering, along with two others leading Childcare and Digital, in September 2019 which enabled us to plan for 2021 delivery.
Which part of the ETF’s TLPD offer have staff members been engaged with so far?
The Training Needs Analysis (TNA) was the starting point for all staff and has given us an accurate overview of the training courses available based on the individual analysis. It has also ensured that there are effective CPD opportunities provided that are relevant to the gaps in knowledge of T Levels and how to teach them. From the TNA, staff have been able to complete a range of ETF and FutureLearn courses which provide high quality training to help staff develop and teach these new courses in a standardised way, and with the most up to date information.
What have been the benefits?
Clear and specific training material that has provided relevant and effective support, has increased confidence in preparing for delivery, and has raised positivity in embracing change. By understanding the T Level content and structure, staff have been able to appreciate the differences in delivery of these new T Levels, and the varied opportunities for developing engaging lessons.
What do you enjoy most about delivering Construction T Levels?
The variation and flexibility in delivery. Within the Onsite Construction course, it has been possible to teach learners about the industry as a whole and not just trade specifics; this is preparing them for a career beyond just their chosen specialism. They are learning some fantastic skills that are completely up to date, transferable and putting them in a confident position to embark on their industry placements next year.
What have students enjoyed most so far about undertaking a Construction T Level?
Weekly feedback we receive from the learners has brought up some varying responses but they enjoy the interactive nature of the theory lessons. This involves a mix of PowerPoint presentation and Nearpod, an interactive platform, which allows for good, effective questioning, YouTube clips and quizzes to engage learners. We work on 3D modelling to demonstrate sustainable building techniques, design principles, and health and safety regulations to allow us to combine units and offer a range of skills. They are enjoying the practical skills that are being developed – this cohort has come straight from school into a Level 3 Construction course, so we have had to accelerate their skills ready for their occupational specialism and industry placement.
The ETF’s Networks enable those involved in delivering T Levels, and those considering delivery in the future, to interact and exchange ideas and resources – why would you recommend T Level staff to join a Network?
We can’t do this by ourselves, it has to be as part of collaboration with other providers. By networking we are able to share our ideas for development and also our experiences of teaching T Levels, what works well etc. We have been able to expand on ideas we have had by sharing and getting feedback, which has meant others can add their thoughts, which can only be a positive. Quite often the same barriers and issues have cropped up and it’s interesting to see how we all overcome them; some great techniques and answers to problems have been created through discussion during network events and meetings. A method of overcoming or facing a problem that hasn’t worked for one doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work for another, or someone simply saying “Ok, but have you thought about going this way instead?” can provide some much-needed clarity.
What would your advice be for prospective providers thinking about delivering T Levels in the future?
Take on as much training and collaboration as you can and involve as many people as you can from the beginning. Allocate someone time to lead on the chosen T Level route and get them to feed back to staff and motivate the change. Speak often to awarding bodies and the ETF to get the information you need and keep the conversation going with staff so that everyone is aware of T Levels and people want to find out more. Engage employers by having conversations early on – ask them to come in to demonstrate what they do and engage with the learners, ask to visit them on site or wherever they are so that learners can experience industry. By including and engaging employers they will see the dedication of the T Level learners and will be more responsive to industry placements in the future. Ask employers about the relevance of different parts of the course and what they as an employer want to see in the future workforce.
“T Levels are here – they are an exciting opportunity for our learners so embrace and motivate the change, and share your knowledge and enthusiasm with others.”
For more information, please visit the Networks page.