In 13/14, according to the EFA, “The [new] goal [was] to give as many young people and adults as possible who lack good qualifications in maths and English the chance to take GCSEs in these subjects.” (16 to 19 funding: maths and English condition of funding, 2014). As more learners were being challenged to achieve higher qualifications, lessons with English and maths subject specialist tutors were no longer sufficient as a standalone way of supporting learners to achieve a minimum of grade C in GCSE English and Maths.
In 13/14 I led on English and maths in the Hair and Beauty department in a South Yorkshire college. Here’s how we approached the challenges we all face today and achieved success for our learners!
Thinking Ahead: A Whole Team Approach: Hair and Beauty 13/14
In 13/14 the Hair and Beauty department in a college in South Yorkshire achieved 91% Success in Functional Skills qualifications and 100% Success in achieving grade C at GCSE English Language and Maths.
Here’s how, in three easy steps…
1) Learning programmes contained appropriate attention to improving learners’ English, Mathematics and Functional Skills and ensured development of their employability skills…
…learners were enrolled to achievable and aspirational qualifications which supported them to improve their employability.
All tutors who enrolled learners were equipped with the knowledge to advise learners on their progression routes in English and maths at interview. English and maths was promoted from the first time the learners meet a member of the team.
…staff knew how to use IA results and learners’ previous qualifications.
Not only did we use IA results to place learners on English and maths quals, but also Personal Tutors used these, along with other contributing factors, to ensure that learners were on the right vocational programmes.
…staff understood the levels of learners and used this knowledge to improve maths and English skills in vocational qualifications.
“During literacy and numeracy walkthroughs I demonstrated how I use learners’ IA results to identify their capabilities in relation to ratio for mixing colours in practical sessions. For E3 level learners I teach them the theory behind how to mix colours using a visual memory technique, throughout the year I build their skills by introducing ratios (a Level 2 skill) so they can eventually calculate the quantities without the use of the visual memory tools. If I started with Level 2 skills from the beginning, some learners would find it almost impossible to learn.” Katie Malpass, Teacher for Hairdressing
2) Teaching and learning to support learners to develop the English, Mathematics and Functional Skills they need to achieve their main learning goals and career aims….
…staff received regular training, sought out guidance and engaged in all updates on English and maths in team meetings.
Management ensured that English and maths held a permanent slot on the agenda for meetings and development days. Training included the introduction of the 5 Min Lit and Num Plan and regular sharing of good practice. Meetings ensured that the staff received regular updates in relation to English and maths initiatives and changes in government policy.
…staff engaged in sharing of good practice and experimented with approaches to promote English and maths in the classroom.
“The whole team is much more positive and confident promoting literacy and numeracy. Everyone contributed to the stall for Teachers’ Fair, which had an English and maths theme that year, (and won runner up for best stall!), and all staff are now using the resources which were shared. The whole team embraced this.” Claire Schofield, Programme Manager for Hairdressing
…teachers take the initiative to improve their own confidence in English and maths skills.
“I found in just the first 3 weeks of doing my GCSE Maths course with Essential Skills department that I can use it for angles and degrees when teaching cutting. I’ve created some useful resources to help bring maths into my lessons and feel more confident explaining to the learners how maths is relevant to hairdressing. I have learnt so much already and would definitely say that, for the first time in my life, I now love maths!” Julie Train, Teacher for Hairdressing
3) Learners appreciate the importance of improving English, Mathematics and Functional Skills as appropriate in the context of their learning goals and life ambitions…
…tutors promoted English and maths successfully in vocational classes.
Tutors received excellent feedback following external observations. “Learners could identify which literacy and numeracy skills were used in a commercial salon from skim reading colour charts, reading for meaning when following colouring instructions, estimating foil lengths and measuring accurate colour formulae including ratio…Learners naturally promoted literacy and numeracy skills which strengthened their industry experience and developed employer workplace needs.” Jill Wilkinson, Tutorial Team Leader
…learners had the opportunity to engage in a range of initiatives related to English and maths.
Learners engaged in learner led projects, including ‘I use literacy and numeracy’ poster project which ran across the college. All tutors in Hair and Beauty are now using the ‘Have you used English and maths?’ resource in class for learners to identify and summarise skills used in class.
…Functional Skills/GCSE tutors make their classes more engaging for learners and ensure that all skills learnt are transferable.
“[The Functional Skills teachers had] a real passion for what [they] teach and they [made] English and maths fun and interesting for all our learners and give us the knowledge to promote it within our lessons.” Debbie Gillespie, Course Leader for Beauty
The Impact of a Whole Team Approach in Three Easy Steps
- Happy Learners – less resistance to attend maths and English classes, as the learners understand why it’s important for them to do so. This message was strongly reinforced by the whole team approach to promoting the importance of English and maths.
- Improving Learner Employability – During English and maths walkthroughs, learners reported that they see the relevance and work hard to achieve the qualifications, making them more employable and improving positive destinations.
- Improving Department Overall Success – Success rates of 100% for GCSE English Language and Maths and 91% for Functional Skills in English and Maths.
- Outstanding Approach to Teaching, Learning & Assessment – Meeting OFSTED expectations.
“Having a team approach in promoting English and maths had a positive impact on learners; they fully [understood] and engage[d] in developing these skills which …. led to successful outcomes.” Karen Carr, Head of Department for Hair and Beauty.
In my new business, EduKayte – Education and Training Consultancy, I now work with colleges across the country to build the same team ethos, provide vocational staff with the same knowledge and confidence and ultimately enable the learners to access the same fantastic opportunities for success in English and maths.