New circumstances and challenges in society are constantly forcing the parameters of education to evolve and adapt, to provide students with the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to excel throughout their lives.
The challenging learning environments which came about with the Covid-19 pandemic, showed just how quickly educational institutions can have to adapt.
RNN Group’s (Rotherham College, North Notts College, Dearne Valley College) partnership with WorldSkills UK and the decision to join the Centre of Excellence Programme in the midst of the pandemic, is a great example of adapting to challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining the aim to provide excellence throughout the organisation.
In this, our fourth WorldSkills Ambassador feature, we meet up with Claire Evans, Senior Curriculum Team Leader for Motor Vehicle at Dearne Valley College. We hear about how the WorldSkills programme, stress and the pandemic will help mould better equipped and confident students, who are ready for the workplace.
It has been brilliant! The process started with myself and the four other teachers coming together with one clear goal… We wanted our students to achieve excellence.
By undergoing the WorldSkills training with our coach Frazer Minskip, where we learned the principles needed to raise the bar from competence to excellence, and by sharing the experiences that we have collated from our different skill areas, I have developed so much.
Over the years as a teacher, you acquire a toolbox, filled with different tools which help you develop students. Thanks to the WorldSkills training, I’ve developed new tools such as the LEAN principle and pressure testing, where students are exposed to the challenges of the workplace and learn to maximise their efficiency.
The students have spoken about the positive difference that pressure tests and a LEAN way of thinking have made to their learning experience. It has made learning more enjoyable.
The pandemic had a negative impact on most students, as their learning environments and routines were interrupted and negatively affected. One of the consequences of this was that students’ confidence in the classroom and workshops deteriorated.
Developing and maintaining confidence is a core skill within the WorldSkills coaching mantra. As teachers, we work with the students to ensure that they have the right mindset and prepare them for pressurised situations which will occur in their future workplaces.
We do this through performing regular pressure tests, which replicate workplace environments, with customers and assessors present. With these pressure tests, the students learn to analyse and understand their working environment. They learn to understand what equipment they’ll use for their procedures, how to execute these procedures, and how to make this entire process as efficient as possible.
The teachers also work one-on-one with students to analyse their work and pinpoint areas for improvement. As the students’ work together and improve their skills in these areas, their confidence grows.
As well as improving the students’ confidence, the WorldSkills programme has helped them develop other key skills that are needed in the workplace.
Students learn to collaborate through working as a team, and also learn from each other, as students assess each others’ work and provide feedback. A method which has proven very popular amongst them.
This collaborative form of working, which can be seen in most workplaces, is evidenced in our workshops. We have a registration plate that reads “C3 B4 Me”, which in written English translates to ‘see three before me’. We use this quote to remind the students to consult three sources of information before asking a teacher. This is adapted from WorldSkills’ way of working, where it is crucial that the students learn independence and knowledge sharing.
The WorldSkills programme also addresses a key issue in many workplaces, stress. The students are frequently exposed to different tasks, where they are guided through how to handle themselves and the situation, to avoid stress and improve their standards.
I’m expecting to see a higher standard of work and more confident learners. I want the students to go out into the workplace and show what they are capable of, because they really are capable of excellence.
Going forward, I’m excited to pass on my experiences and knowledge to the next generation of WorldSkills ambassadors at the Colleges. Finally, I’d just like to say a special thank you to Frazer and the team. We all signed up for this programme because we enjoy learning and we want to see our students excel. I can’t wait to continue seeing both students and staff continue down this path towards excellence.