What if the further education and skills sector realised the full potential of vocational pedagogy?

By Bill Lucas

In all the recent government documents about vocational education my
favourite quotation is: “Learners must demand high quality pedagogy which
will necessitate that stronger links are built between employers, teachers and
teaching”.1 I imagine thousands of apprentices rising up from their labours
to march on the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills in London
shouting “Pedagogy! We want better pedagogy!”

In your dreams! For in the UK, despite my and my colleagues’ best
endeavours,2 ‘pedagogy’3 is a word that is rarely used by those working in
further education (FE) and skills. Instead conversation all too easily turns to
funding formulae, new kinds of institutions, reformed qualification systems,
different apprenticeship specifications and the like. All of these have value but
none is as essential as the high quality teaching and learning methods which
sit at the heart of all excellent vocational education. For it is pedagogy which
is the beating heart of the vocational body politic.

 

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A provocative think piece exploring expansive pedagogy in colleges

Pedagogic leadership – Creating cultures and practices for outstanding vocational learning

It is good to see vocational education coming centre stage in the education debate. The time is absolutely right – vocational courses are not just a ‘second chance’ default for those who have not done well in school-based academic studies. Aside from rhetoric around the ‘forgotten 50 per cent’ and the need to drive up skills in order to boost the economy, we are seeing new programmes, such as traineeships, new qualifications, such as tech levels, and new accountability measures, such as the technical baccalaureate, all with the declared intention of raising the profile and value of vocational programmes.

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