A Whole Team Approach: Hair and Beauty Team at a South Yorkshire College

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

GCSE group 1314
(Left to right) Carrie Brittain, Marcella Greenfield, Erica Lindsay, Lauren Fletcher and Chloe Gennard. GCSE English Language learners from Hair and Beauty Department, all who achieved a golden grade C in 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.

Katie Malpass

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.

5 Minute Literacy and Numeracy PlanManagement 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.

Claire Schofield

“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.

Julie Train

“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.

Jill Wilkinson, former Course Leader

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.

Easy sticky note resource for use to promote literacy and numeracy skills in class evaluations.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.

Debbie Gillespie
Debbie Gillespie

“[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

full team
Hair and Beauty Team 13/14
  • 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 SuccessSuccess 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.
Karen Carr

“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.

Click here to see the training packages available at EduKayte

The Move from Embedding to Promoting

We all know that Teaching, Learning and Assessment is a limiting grade and without having Outstanding English and maths success rates, that Outstanding grade is out of our reach.

As per the School Inspection Handbook“Inspectors observe in lessons, speak to pupils and review pupils’ work in order to make a judgement about the quality of teaching in the school overall and over time.”

Gone are the days when we could crack out our fanciest teaching and learning methods to impress the inspectors on the day. In order to achieve Outstanding, we need to ensure that we are focused on learner progress and on providing excellent feedback throughout the academic year. Absolutely right.

With English and maths so high on the agenda right now, we need to be engaging in achievable solutions which encourage our learners to appreciate the importance of English and maths in relation to their vocational qualifications, as well as ensuring we are promoting and developing the skills appropriately in class.

How do we know we need to improve on this?

Regardless of how much good practice we see from tutors ’embedding’ literacy and numeracy in their classes, we still find that learners are unaware of how they use English and maths skills in their chosen professions. Enter the need for promotion and development of English and maths skills by vocational tutors.

How do we fix this? 
Following a recent conversation with a vocational Ofsted Inspector, specifically regarding English and maths, it became apparent that along with engaging our learners by understanding and appreciating the importance of English and maths skills ourselves, we need to hand English and maths back to the learners for them to engage with.

How do you use English and maths?

Why do you need English and maths skills?

Why is English and maths important to you?

Promoting English and Maths 

To do this, it was suggested that we could ask the learners where they had used the skills in the lesson. If we did this day to day, the learners’ knowledge and understanding of their relevance would improve dramatically. Click on the image to download the sticky note resource below as a PDF to use in your classes as you wish.

Easy sticky note resource for use to promote literacy and numeracy skills in class evaluations.
Easy sticky note resource for use to promote English and maths skills in class evaluations.

Some suggestions…

  • Have a few laminated for learners to use in groups at the end of the session to identify the skills they have used and write how they used these skills in the sticky notes in the centre.
  • Use the document as a poster and do similar to above/get learners to stick their own post it notes around or on the poster saying how they have used English and maths in the lesson. (They could add sticky notes when they identify skills which aren’t already identified on the resource).
  • Ask the learners to identify at the start of the lesson which ones they think they will use from the objectives/which ones they actually used at end etc.
  • Any other creative and innovative way of using it you can think of which promotes English and maths.


Sticky Notes in Practice

Originally this resource was trialed in a college in South Yorkshire, in a Hair and Beauty

Emma Hanks, Advanced Practitioner for Hair and Beauty at a college in South Yorkshire.

department. The feedback was extremely positive, the learners responded well to the resource, the staff embraced the use of the resource and learners were able to list how English and maths were relevant to their qualifications. Not only this, but the tutors became “more confident in promoting the use of English and maths as they found more and more instances where they were naturally developing learner skills in English and maths within the vocational context.” Emma Hanks, Advanced Practitioner.

Since the original trial of this resource, it has been shared across the college and is now used in training sessions across the country to inspire the creation of further resources as part of a training session on the promotion of English and maths in vocational teaching, learning and assessment.

Click here to explore the training packages available at www.edukayte.co.uk.

Ofsted Loves English and Maths

It’s not only us who are interested in building a loving relationship between vocational
subjects and English and maths, Ofsted are also going strong when it comes to education and supporting our learners in working towards achieving that golden grade C (and above!), their ticket to a life time of employment, happiness and success. Pre 2015, Ofsted wanted to know ‘whether learning programmes contain appropriate attention to improving learners English, mathematics and Functional Skills, ensuring development of their employability skills,’ and we had to show them that they did, but since then things have stepped up a notch or two. It feels like English and maths are now the centre of the FE universe (not that I’m complaining) and therefore massively in the spotlight.

So, what’s changed?

What Ofsted were looking for pre Sept, 2015…

Teaching and learning supports learners to develop the English, mathematics and functional skills they need to achieve their main learning goals and career aims.

Learners progress in English, mathematics, language and functional skills is monitored and reviewed and their work is marked carefully.

Learners appreciate the importance of improving their English, mathematics and functional skills as appropriate in the context of their learning goals and life ambitions.

Resources to meet the above objectives include…

The 5 Minute English and Maths Promotion Plan (previously known as The 5 Minute Literacy and Numeracy Plan)

5 Minute Literacy and Numeracy Plan completed by Anita Wilkinson, Course Leader in Hair and Beauty
5 Minute Literacy and Numeracy Plan completed by Anita Wilkinson, Course Leader in Hair and Beauty

If you would like support in recognising how you are already embedding literacy and numeracy in to your vocational subjects, then I recommend you try The 5 Minute English and Math Promotion Plan. Click on the image to see a completed version of the plan. This is a quick and easy way to help you to identify areas where you are promoting English and maths in your subjects already, which in turn will enable your learners to make clearer connections themselves.

What the CIF says now…

Teaching, learning and assessment support learners to develop their skills in English, mathematics and ICT and their employability skills, including appropriate attitudes and behaviours for work, in order to achieve their learning goals and career aims.

Staff promote, where appropriate, English, mathematics, ICT and employability skills exceptionally well and ensure that learners are well-equipped with the necessary skills to progress to their next steps.

So, now we need to not only be identifying opportunities for English and maths within vocational subjects and promoting their importance in relation to their future employment, staff need to also be supporting learners to develop their English and maths skills in order t achieve their learning goals and career aims.

There’s the difference.

A great place to start this journey towards development, would be to identify where the opportunities arise, so get your I heart maths t-shirt on, grab a coffee in your I heart English mug and have a crack at the recently updated 5 Minute English and Maths Promotion Plan…which can be found here.

Further techniques and strategies to follow, but first, get your head around this one! Have fun.