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Introduction to curriculum design webinar

This webinar offers guidance on curriculum design for schools and colleges delivering T Levels from September 2022. The webinar was delivered on 24 November 2020.

Video transcript

This session for us… Um, just to uh do the normal uh housekeeping for these virtual sessions. Um, there's a slide that's just popped up on your screens. Now, um, can you please make sure that you're on mute if you're not speaking during the session? Just to cut down any background noise. Um, if you'd like to raise a point, please use the chat function on the right and we can answer your questions as we go or please put your hand up. And the session is being recorded so that it can be shared with others who haven't been able to make it today. Um, we'll try and do our best to make sure that we resolve any technical issues. Um, but if you have any problems, then uh, you can email the email address on the screen and we will try and help if we are able to. Okay, I think that's, that's it for those uh housekeeping points. So I will now hand over to Cath to start the session. Thank you very much Cath.

Oh, first rule of uh going on to an event is make sure you're not on mute. So, welcome everybody. I'm so delighted to be with you today. Um, my name is Cath Sezen and I work for the Association of Colleges and I've worked with, um, the T Level team at DFE uh since the inception of T-levels actually. Um, I also have a college background. So I worked in college for 14 years on the South Coast. Um, so, when it comes to thinking about how you're going to put your programmes together, that's something that I've certainly been thinking about. Um, I'm also delighted to say that today, we're going to be joined as well, by 2 2020 providers. So, we have colleagues joining us from Bridgewater and Taunton College and from City College, Norwich, who are going to be sharing some of their insights with you a little bit later on. So, we are going to get going thinking about curriculum design this afternoon.
So, this first slide here, really, is just to emphasise um, it's sort of thinking about throwing everything up in the air and then putting it back together in a way that suits the needs of you and your students. So, we’ll come on to more detail about the key elements of the T Level which I'm sure you're aware of. But I think the exciting thing is that it's a real opportunity to rethink putting together the programme and how it will work for you. So, perhaps we could move on to the next slide, that would be great. Okay! So, first of all, then, um, you've probably had the opportunity to start looking at the specifications for the current T Levels, and very soon, we will have further details on the 2021 T Levels and then obviously working towards 2022. Um, so, this is a key starting point for you and your colleagues when you're thinking about designing your T Levels and on to the next slide please.

So, this is where we begin thinking about design considerations. Yes please, let's get to that next slide, that was just a holder. Thank you. Um, I'm sure you are already very familiar with this particular slide, um, it's one that I come back to again and again and again, um just to remind myself of what the T Level programme looks like. So, I think, obviously, you'll be aware that a T Level is considerably larger than the current study programme. So, um, T Levels differ in size, um, from route to route and even within route. So, you'll have T Levels that are of different sizes, depending on the core and the occupational specialism. Um, but we do have to think that they're approximately going to be about 50 per cent larger than a current study programme. So, that's just worth having in the back of our minds. Obviously, we've got the core and the occupational specialism. Um, core, you'd probably look at delivering perhaps more in the first year and allowing your students to think about which occupational specialism they want to take. And also, of course, it's which occupational specialisms you're going to be offering. Um, I think the key as we move through the slides is thinking about how you're going to fit in the um assessment both for core and the occupational specialism and the assessment is varied. So, it could be more of a sit-down type exam but it could also be more practical skills and obviously, there's also the employer set project. So, different types of assessment as well to prepare your students for. Clearly, the key USP of the T Level is the industry placement, um, and that is as you will know, I expect many of you are already working on CDF is 315 to 420 hours, um, and is with an external employer. So, we know that feedback from students tells us that this is something that they're really excited by, because it gives them that opportunity to experience the workplace of their choice. You might also need to be thinking about English and Maths requirements and how you will fit that in. Bear in mind that the T Level is uh not subject to conditional funding, so that students can achieve either functional skills or GCSE. And there may well be additional mandatory requirements, um, specific to each T Level. So, as we move on to the next slide, I think the key is thinking through some of the things on this slide. So, as I said, this is um very much going to be your programme meeting the needs of your students um and you as a provider. So, it's thinking about how you sequence the teaching learning and assessment and um just bear in mind it is a lot of summative assessment but how are you going to build in the formative assessment as well? And also, thinking about the best ways of engaging students. So, through employer taster days and visiting um as part of that industry placement as well, to get them thinking about the occupational specialism that they're going to go on to. And as I said, it's also thinking about that formative assessment and developing the skills so that students are prepared for their final, their final assessments.

And the other thing that you probably need to be thinking about, um right now, is your resource needs in staff utilisation, because again because the programme is is different to current study programmes, you may need to be thinking about how you're going to, how you're going to start for example, what sort of resources you might need and um perhaps key to that might be thinking about when you've got your first years and then how you're going to back-to-back that with your second years as well, with a new cohort coming in. Thank you. Let's go on to the next slide. Okay. So, the next couple of slides, um, are really for you to be thinking about how you might design your curriculum and it will differ from provider to provider, as I said, depending on the needs of you and your students. So, thinking about when, for example, you want to be delivering your occupational specialism, you're probably going to be starting as I said earlier with your core but then how are you going to feed in that occupational specialism with your industry placement? You might like to think about doing some of those employability skills and experiences of employment, getting some employers in your first year, and then moving on more into the technical skills development in the second year. And on the next slide, you can see that we've got another example. So, as we'll probably hear from our college colleagues in a minute, it is very much what fits your scenario. So, as we move on…

To the next slide, great. This is where I'm going to um bring in colleagues from Bridgewater and Taunton and City College Norwich, and we're going to start with Bridgewater and Taunton and they're just going to talk through um a few of the things that we've got on this slide here and give you an insight into the things that they thought about before they started their design. So, um, Ben, I think I'm going to be handing over to you.

Hi Cath, and uh, good afternoon everyone. Um, my name is, as said is, I'm Ben Houlihan, I'm the Head of Quality Teaching and Digital Innovation here at Bridgewater and Taunton College, um based in Somerset,  those people don't know us. And I also have with me on the call today, Louise Rowley, who is our Vice Principal and has been our strategic T Level Lead and Louise is gonna get involved with some of the Q and A at the end today as well, um once we finish the um presentations. I think I'm going to echo, first of all, many of the things that Cath had just taken you through actually. Um, you know, the T Levels have been for us, an opportunity to think very differently about how we offer technical education. As we've said, they are a different qualification and for us, part of the process has been about recognising what's the same and what can we what can we keep hold of in terms of systems and processes, but also recognising and celebrating the bits that are really different and that's everything from how we market them, the taster activities, the assessment design, and also the messaging around destinations and where they can take you as well. Really pleased to be here today, and thanks to to the AOC and DFE for putting this together. Um, and I've got a couple of key points at the end which I think I've just summed up you know I guess advice that that we would like to share with with colleagues that are starting out on this journey towards T Levels. Um, but really pleased at this point to be saying it's been a great start for us this year.
Students are reporting they're having a great time on their T Levels, um and really looking forward to some of the other things that are set to come, or be in the context of of kobe perhaps limiting um quite the pace at which we were like some of these things could have started. So, I've got a couple of talking points around the the um the slide there at the moment, just to take you through now. I've got a few notes that I'm going to read. I've met with our curriculum teams over the last couple of weeks and obviously when you give these people chance to talk T Levels, they talk a lot. So, I'm going to try and sum up in a in a succinct way over the next sort of 5 to 10 minutes um what they've been saying about how they've approached each of these aspects from a timetabling point of view, and I think we've been really cautious to try and take any positive we can from such a terrible situation that we find ourselves in now. But actually, the pandemic coming at the time that it did as with many organisations, we did probably 2 years’ worth of professional development in about 2 months and actually the flexibility and the the drive towards high quality online and digital asynchronous activities are what we've known since very early on. We're going to be central to the success of the T Levels and that agility in the curriculum to actually flex to the industry placements when they become available, to make sure the students and indeed the employers that we're working with get what they need from these programmes. So yeah, that that professional development journey that we've all been on was was really quite valuable and timely for teams that are doing this, and one of the things we got involved with last year was the um the trip project. So now, relay what I think is teacher resource improvement projects but we were actually looking at developing high quality blended learning approaches as part of our trip at the start of last year. It's been great to see that kind of come come out this year in the uh the timetabling approaches that the teams have taken. But I know people here are probably after some uh specifics as to what we've been doing.
So, just to give you a flavour of how it's running. Um for our design surveying and planning, and sorry I should say that at Bridgewater and Taunton College, we're currently running all 3 T Level routes this year. So for Design Surveying and Planning, students currently have 3 days on campus and then 1 day remotely uh being remote delivery at the moment and I'll talk a bit about the industry placements in a moment. For our Digital students, they have 2 days in college and 1 day online, um and the online days is kind of quite heavily weighted towards um assessment planning for for the uh the core aspects of the T Level. And for our Childcare and Education, the students have 2 days on campus, 2 days remote, and then 1 day set aside for their placement activity in a week. So, there are large qualifications, there's no doubt about this. The students are uh incredibly busy um and really getting their teeth stuck into to how this is working. Um, the online delivery currently for all 2 T Levels is being uh handled through Microsoft Teams and that's been great to find that common platform and common language that the teachers involved with this can be sharing those those bits of best practice.
So, industry placement is again for people that are involved in in CDF. I'm sure some of the points that I'm going to make are not going to be a surprise to you. I think one of the big points we've reflected on is that um COVID’s had more of an impact on placements than perhaps employer engagement. There are willing employers that want to get involved and want to offer placements but it is just some of those other restrictions that are are causing a bit of a blockage right now. So for uh Construction, Construction, Design, Surveying and Planning, um the placements, the industry placements spread across 2 years uh but they're going to be out on 3 week blocks. So the students will do 1 block in year 1, and then 2 blocks in year 2. That's the the format of the placement for for the Design, Surveying and Planning students.

For Digital students, um, now this has been the Digital basically placements as and when they arrive they're really keen to try and make this work. Um, clearly as many of you will be experiencing, digital businesses now reverting to homework in many situations and some of the limitations or the restrictions that places on whether they can offer placements or or making them unable to offer placements is is something that the team are constantly trying to work around. The approach at the moment has gone to engaging with a wider pool of businesses that have digital departments and that's been the the switch really over these first few months of delivery, looking at digital departments within larger businesses as opposed to just purely digital companies. Um and similarly around Childcare and Education, all the students have managed to secure placements, all are ready to go but obviously local restrictions are mean and in some cases, they're not able to access those placements yet. But all are ready to go and we'll be following the um the route or the the structures I should say that i mentioned just now around that 1 day a week on on placement with an increased amount of placement in year 2. So, firing through a few other things, um assessment, I think we can sum this up quite simply in the all 3 T Levels are as Cath suggested, focusing on the core in year 1, um and I think that's that's partly around um the challenge with the core. It's a it's a big uh, it's a big part of the T Level, there's some serious topics in there, um and interestingly, we we've reported back from our digital team very recently that some of the aspects that are being delivered as part of the core, um and in some cases the occupational specialisms, are not yet commonplace in industry. So, they are brand new and they've been out researching them. That's how that's how up-to-date these specs are. So, the uh, I'll move on to that in the resource implications but the professional development piece for staff is really really important at this point. So um, as I say, fairly focused in terms of core but lots of um mock exam preparation, and that's reflecting not only how the T Level will be assessed at the end, but also that gap that we perhaps find with some students that are coming in, um after receiving centre-assessed grades for their year 11, so haven't necessarily gone through that large exam series at the end of their GCSEs. So therefore, the digital team have been focusing on their mini mocks. So this has been a Friday online activity for them, um and has been very targeted around uh exam-based answers starting to scaffold those and and challenge the students to to increase the the depth and level of the answers that they're providing in their uh responses. So, that mini mock has worked really well. Um similarly for the childcare education, it's the employer set projects and actually trying to emulate what that employer set project is going to be in smaller formative chunks, so the students are more familiar with the language and also more familiar with that format of how they're going to be assessed. Occupational specialism for us is fairly simplistic in that most teams are saving this until year 2. However, um both Digital and indeed the Design, Surveying and Planning have chosen to bring aspects of that occupational specialism into year 1. I think we've all reflected on the fact that if it was purely a core delivery in year 1, what students are expecting about their T Level is not necessarily the reality that they'll be faced with. They're expecting a a technical qualification with applied aspects to it as well, so really um great to be able to bring some of those occupational specialisms in. Um, one of my favourite phrases this week has been to dip our toe from our digital teams into the occupational specialisms to make sure that they are keeping the students engaged in what's happening. So when it comes to resource implications, um we've been really fortunate to benefit from the T Level funding capital funding that's been available, um and actually that's that's been a big impact and a big difference to the staff and student experience of T Levels. But perhaps the most important resource implication has been that professional development piece for staff. As we've said, these are our big qualifications they are different qualifications. And one of the things that we've noted is that it's not just a case of moving a previously vocational team into delivering T Levels, there is a professional development piece that needs to go on, not just around those industry aspects that I mentioned earlier. Some of the very specific um occupational specialisms and applications and processes that are there but also the pedagogical training that's needed as well –that dual professional development to make sure that staff that perhaps haven't talked to exams or indeed to to more structured assessments before synoptic assessments are really prepared for that. And for us, engaging with that um T Level professional development offer through AOC and um ETF has been really, really valuable in helping the staff feel prepared and also feel like they're they're really a step ahead of where they need to be in terms of delivering the calls.

And the final thing around pinch points, I've already mentioned a number of these as we've gone through but I think the teams were really keen to say that, um, making sure that they have uh engaging and practical activities sprinkled into that core in year one was a really valuable thing they found as we approached the end of this first term. That's had a big impact on student motivation um and also the the content coming out from awarding organisations. Now I know that um you know we've all wanted specifications a lot sooner, that's something we've we've said. But actually, my 3 points that I'd like to sort of finish with today, the first and most important one that I would suggest to everyone is an active engagement with the award organisations. Obviously, we work with with Pearson um in this first year as well as NCFE, and I've got to say they've been brilliant and actually they've been really open to the dialogue. They've listened, they've been responsive in terms of getting people to sit down with our curriculum teams and you know not with people like myself or or Louise, but actually sitting down with our course leaders and listening to what it's like um to be delivering in the classroom and where are their gaps and where are their support needs. So, that engagement with the award organisations, find out who your link person is and and get a good relationship with them would be advice number one. Second piece of advice really would be the active engagement with that T Level professional development offer. You know, I'll just pick up on one, things like industry insights. A funded programme to help get staff back out into industry to do some update training before they embark on a new qualification is um amazing and we really have valued that and we've tried to capitalise on it as much as we can. And the final thing is to work with other colleges uh work with other colleges, other providers that are on that same journey. We were really fortunate in our um in our trip projects last year to to engage with a number of colleges from within our region and a couple from outside as well. And we've continued that network, not funded, but we've continued that network into this year um to share practice and talk about those experiences and it's been great in terms of having the opportunity to you know to share some of that with colleges, as I say, that are on that same journey. So um, I hope that's given a a flavour of the the approaches that we have taken and some of those key takeaways that we've had over this first term. Um and as I say, Louise and I will be uh here for questions, I think Cath after the the next presentations taking place from colleagues at City College Norwich.

That's fantastic, thanks so much Ben it was lovely to hear from you and quite right, um we're going to take some questions uh right at the end. Thank you ever so much for your insights there, really really helpful. We're now going to hear from Julia um and colleagues potentially at uh City College Norwich. So Julia, I'm going to hand over to you. Welcome.

Hello Cath, hello Ben, thank you for that and hello everyone here today. I have got some uh colleagues with me today um but we've had a fire alarm, so bear with us while I try and work out who's here but we should have uh Steve Carr who's Head of Area for Construction, Emma Pandey, Head of Area for Health Social Care and Child Care, and Ros Hicks for Digital. Um, we uh similar to similar to Ben, we we are early adopters of all 3 T Levels. So we've been on a bit of a journey like most people who are early adopters. Um compared to all of the normal stuff we do, uh, T Levels are about 4 groups uh including transition of about 350. So, we're also trying to give it the level of um attention it needs to get these uh T Levels off the ground whilst also still doing everything else and it's that's been quite tricky. So I think that's uh been quite different for us.

We also eh, our college is an area where we have um predominantly, well, two-thirds of it and level 2 and level 1 students. So, the T Level um being level 3 has been quite a challenge but we are a college who approaches things from the student perspective and one of the first things that we did when we came together as a team was thought about well what will the T Level feel like, what will it what will it look like, and we really did start from how beneficial it might be for the students. And one of the fantastic things we felt about the T Level and how it was really different was it gave us an opportunity to expose, it would give us the opportunity to expose those young people to some really rich industry connectivity which, although we'd always prided ourselves on our work experience that we did as part of the study programme, we felt that the T Level sort of firmed that up. Um, in terms of strategic steer, um, I do head up the T Levels. I don't, I didn't, I didn't give the teams too much of a steer, I wanted to um let the teams explore possibilities because I felt that that was really important to get a sustainable, you know, future for T Levels. It's been tricky and I'm hoping the teams will be able to tell you the positives and some of their challenges. But being a college that approaches things in the way that we do, we always look at how how we might do something, rather than how we wouldn't do something, so removing the barriers. Um, the stir that I gave the team was, as I said, quite small. But first and foremost, it had to be very different. As Ben described, you know this was not the same study programme as every other study programme. It needed to look and feel different.

Um, I wanted us to have a dedicated T Level team as far as reasonably practicable. So that wasn't just the managers, that was the teachers as well, so that we could really give it the focus and intensive care that it needed. Um, but I also wanted the same teachers who taught on the T Level to teach on the transition programme that we we're calling it the pre-T. But nonetheless, I wanted it to be a streamline experience for students from that uh transition to the T Level. Um and the same as uh probably many of you, and the work that you get involved with you know, we needed to be able to factor in meeting regularly with me as part of that and I wanted to meet with the teams as well. But really that was it. And what I did was, with the teams, I allowed them to go away and explore with the teachers, we felt that the teachers would be the people who would have the answers for putting such a massive programme into action and actually operationalise, operationalise in what the government expected. We we are very positive about these things but having been a part of previous educational initiatives before, we knew that sometimes, to try and get it from where it is on paper to being able to operationalise it is tricky. So, we needed experts in these fields. I think, before I hand over to the team, because they're the people can obviously can give you um people the level of detail that you might want, the one thing I think my reflection on all of the stuff that we've been involved with and we've been involved in the trip project and a number of other support um functions for the T Levels, I've been absolutely blown away by how positive this can be for teachers. So some teachers who I've worked with for a number of years have found the whole process of planning for the T Levels incredibly, um, fulfilling. They've um found other ways of doing things and I hope that the team will talk about how we've given them the freedom to do that. So, Emma I don't know whether you want to come in first, if you're there. I'm hoping you're back from the fire alarm.

I am back. I'm rushing around yeah I'm back. Um yes, so I'm um I’m overseeing the Childcare and Education T Level at City College Norwich. Um and a bit of an overview of the the kind of plan and how we went with it. So in year 1, we conducted a 2-week induction period where we had diagnostics involved. So we wanted to make sure that we had the right students on the right course and it was the appropriate level for them and we allowed some movement between the the our pre-T and the and the T level if needed. Um, the design is that we don't have English or Maths GCSE retakes, so and that entry requirements were that students had have 5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above including Maths uh including Maths and English at 5. And core knowledge is delivered in the first year and we aim to have that done by by June and then picking up uh specialism from June onwards.
All exams will be taken in the summer, along with the employer set project as well um from April to mid-June. Year 2, it takes on the similar that it's going to be specialist teaching, uh the specialist content, um and again with the exams being done the following summer. We have planned for 750 hours of the placement, although we know that there's the minimum is 415 now um due to the COVID restrictions. But we have planned for 750 and we've got that as 2 days a week they go out into placement with 3 block weeks throughout the year. Um, so in terms of timetabling, we've got them the students are in 5 days a week in, compared to our normal 3-and-a-half days, teaching hours of time tabled over 33 weeks and this allows us for our three-week block placements and they go out and block around November January and March time. 15 hours a week is allocated to teaching, uh 1 hour a week is to tutorial again with their 2 days in placement. Um, just reinforcing that our core was in the first year specialism to start end of the first year to go into the second year because there is more hours to it and it is a bigger part of of the T Level for us. Um and we don't have a workshop which is what something we have on our other programmes of study and that's all done within the teaching team where they work on the study skills etc. with them. Industry placements have said it's 2 days a week and they go out throughout the year three block placements and it allows us to have age ranges from 0 to 5 settle for the main hours is where we're focusing the students we have an opportunity to go into specialist placement such as in key stage one for about 35 of those hours with it.

In terms of assessment, we're using a variety of different methods, use of exam style questions, um using it as instructions or summaries of the lessons, getting the students used to the style of questions that they're going to be answering and lots of exam practice papers that are done out through various points of the year and at various points within each element, and engaging with your mark schemes where we've got them available and then as well as activities that directly link to the general competencies and core skills. In terms of occupational specialism, as I said, it's 15 hours of delivery per week. The course starts in year 1 goes from mid-September once we've done our induction through to roughly mid-January which is after, uh mid-June sorry, after all exams employee set project has been completed. Um and then we will start our year 2, a second year teaching then. Um, resource implications that we found is the need for technology, umm it's the we found that the digital part is a big part of the course um and we're waiting for some iPads and some other software to come along, um although it is in the making, it just wasn't there ready for when we started. So it has kind of impacted slightly. Um, pinch points is following Easter. We're basically at a point where we examine external assessment prep which might cause a few timetable changes or a few um changes to normality for the students and another one has been COVID in terms of placing students. And we've had a few, although we do have, we've literally got five students that are not in placement and that has been due to COVID. We have a really good relationship with our employers, um, we've had some additional complications where we've had students that have worked in the care sector as a part-time job, coming into college and then the employers in nurseries schools etc. have not wanted to take them because of too many high-risk bubbles. So that's been an additional challenge for us as well.

Thanks very much Emma, um so Steve, I don't know whether we can come to you now.

Yes, I'm here. Okay, just two three minutes so we don't keep these people… Okay so we were kind of lucky that we were we've used the T Level as a replacement and we had an existing uh CBE-built environment level 3 that we were already already running. Our entry requirements are that they must have fives in Math, Science and English, so there's no need for retakes in GCSEs. Um
similar to Ben, we've front-loaded the core in the first year as well as deliver some subject specialisms in there because we felt that the students needed to get engaged with that early on. Plus also, we added some hours in there for employability. What we have found is due to COVID and other things, the students coming in uh have poor, are very poor in employability skills and communication. They're not as confident as previous years and maybe as well through those initial assessments that we've ran, we have seen potentially some of the grades that they've come in with and necessarily with the academic level that they're at. Um but um, as I say, timetabling we've we've made sure that we've put um assessments mock assessments throughout the year using the mock questions that have been provided by Pearsons and and getting used to actually that exam questioning and and getting those exam conditions. Um, we're, around the industry placement, we currently have a, our group that are out of doing a 35-hour um virtual placement with a national construction company at this time and I think that's something that I think a lot of the companies are doing for you guys that are doing it. You could go to your employers and especially in these times that those those industry experts are offering those virtual placements. Um, the the occupational specialism, we have had to repurchase a number of resources, so we we've um we bought new surveying equipment which we bought trimble total stations and software thermal imaging cameras, surveying drones, sound testing meters, VR headsets. So, it's a, it's a, it's a complete up-to-date spec that we've got, we've got. We've worked with one of the suppliers to and industry um to make sure we're using the relevant software. We changed our design software as well and and and you know in addition to that, um we've we've been lucky we've recruited one new member of staff that's come direct from um a design studio.

Um, we use the industry insights into that and and through those resources and through those opportunities, we've managed to get people into industry as well. So, it's, it, it has been a journey, the the development, um some of the pinch points maybe you know and been very like resource developing a lot of those ourselves and looking on from um the industry to give us a lot of those expert industry talks and things like that and incorporating those into the planning of the curriculum as well. I think that's key. It's alright delivering the curriculum but actually to reinforce it at various times of the year, at the right point in the planning, with the industry actually uh reinforcing what you're delivering as well.

Okay, thank you Steve. Um so and our colleague Rose doesn't appear to be on the line. I don't think so and for our Digital um uh T Level, if anyone has any questions about that, I'm absolutely certain that Rose will come back and answer those. But um, as Steve and Emma have both said, you know each area has been able to plan um as them and their staff felt appropriate that would suit the needs of their students. They're quite different circumstances actually, as Steve said, his uh did replace his CBE and I know Emma's did replace her education and child care but Rose's was completely different and she still has the level 3 BTech running alongside her T Level. So, we've had a number of challenges. The industry placements continue to be a challenge particularly in the digital area. So it's a shame that Rose is not here to talk to you about those but we're slowly working through that. We're very lucky we've got a designated industry placement team. So you know they do focus on that work. Um, resource implications, we still um look to the future with all of the T Levels actually, with a mind on those resources. It is incredibly resourceful, those programmes are really really large and we've taken every piece of support that has been offered us with regards to staff development. But we've also had to spend a significant amount of money on recruiting and selecting appropriate staff as well, and we've probably spent more time on getting the right staff on the programmes because those members of staff were critical to us for those T Levels being um successful. And also our our entry requirements, as you've heard the team say, are particularly high. Um, so we have sort of almost taken a slightly risk-averse approach to the T Levels in the first instance because, although it is a new programme we didn't want our students to be adversely affected by any of the learning that might be going on. So yes, compared to some other sort of national providers, our entry requirements are fairly high and you do currently have to have English and Maths before you can go on to any of our T Levels. So, I think that's about us it from us. Cath?

That's fantastic and can I just say what incredible professionalism! Um, seeing as you've had a fire alarm as well, that you've you've managed to combine the two that's uh…

Well, we're all on different sites Cath. So I have I haven't had a fire alarm uh but other people have.

I did, I did wonder I was a little bit concerned about you in the building…

We're we're over 3 sites, so we're all on different sites but you know that's good, thank you.

Thank you so much everyone. Um, I'm just wondering um, so it's time now to move into a question slot, um I'm just wondering um, I think it's Sophie who's controlling the slides and I wonder Sophie, if we can perhaps take down the slides because um it would be nice if we could perhaps see a few faces um well while we're sort of going through the questions. We've um got quite a few uh questions though up up in the in the chat function already. So um thanks very much Sophie. So um, I'm going to ask some of those questions.
Um, I'm going to start first with talking about entry requirements and diagnostics. So we know that there are no set entry requirements from um the department or IFA for or the T Level. So it is very much up to the individual organisation. Um but uh Julia and Ben, I just wonder if you could um give us a little bit of feedback in terms of entry requirements um. And uh Julia, it was Emma who talked about diagnostics and someone was asking what sort of diagnostics. So Ben I'm going to come to you first um about entry requirements.

Thanks Cath. Um for us, I think Julia's point just now around you know the the entry requirements needing to be higher, we've actually gone, um you know, with uh fours at the moment for uh English and Maths as well but I think that will remain under review um as to whether that needs to be a 5 um or above um. So that's that's certainly something that we've been considering but uh yeah that's been the same across the piece for our T Levels. But I think now the team are into it and learning about it. I think we'll see some of that change over perhaps the next couple of years and certainly um, we're planning to run engineering as well as it comes stream and that will I'm sure include higher expectations from a Maths perspective at least. But I think the experience people have of the core at the moment and quite what demands that's placing on students, I think that the importance of having that GCSE covered off before students come on um is a must. I think students would really uh struggle to carry that through um with them if they're studying the T Level as well.

So Julia over to you, perhaps on um diagnostics. I don't know whether Emma wanted to come in as well. I think probably Emma probably Emma could talk to that um more helpfully than I could. Emma, do you want to talk about diagnostics? Yep, that's fine. Um, so what we did was um it started for us when we initially did our interviews. So students would apply they had a taste today where they were given a series of tasks at that point. Um, then they were given a summer task to complete um around a given topic that the team chose um and and then over the 2-week induction period, we were getting them again just looking at different case studies doing some scenarios and just looking at how they dealt with it, how they answered the questions, looking at the maturity levels, um looking at their work readiness as well so we did some some practical stuff around around that writing an email to an employer, doing a phone call etc. and trying to take more of a holistic view of the student to see whether or not they were academically and holistically ready for that that level of study. Um it worked really well, the team felt really confident with the students that they took onto the course. Um, we, I think we didn't have any movement actually between the pre-T or our transitions and um the actual T Level, Um but yeah, it was just a range of different tasks and at the end of it, we always made sure that they had some kind of formal assessment. So it was put under an exam condition as well, so they could really see how they would cope especially given that the year that the students would have been year 11s that hadn't sat exams and then it's helped us target where we need to work on some kind of study skills and intervention and practice with those students as well.

Thanks so much Emma, and Louise who is Ben's colleague at Bridgewater and Taunton is saying the same thing that they worked with the students over the summer and this really helped get everybody off to a great start um…

This is what happened. So um, Julia, I'm going to come to you um and I think uh you might have touched on this but are you running your existing qualifications along pre-existing qualifications alongside or not? Well we we we are in digital, so we've still got the existing qualifications in digital but in Emma's and Steve's area, the T Level um completely replaced the construction, the built environment and I can't actually remember the whole name of your programme Emma but I'm sure you do so we we replaced those and we we took a strategic decision to do that because um if anyone knows Norwich, it was more to do with our environment and the um students that come to us really, we, there are not many colleges in our area and we wanted to be really really clear about um the programme and destinations for students. So we didn't want the muddying of waters and actually I'm going to be totally honest with you as I said we have always a prided ourselves on our work experience embedded into our study programmes but we'd had a little kickback from some parents with regard to the level of expo young, the exposure young people had to work experience as we called it then traditionally in a normal study program so we were concerned that some of the initial conversations we've had with parents when we were trying under to understand how to market the t level was well why would they do that when it's got all that industry placement in it when they could do X and they haven't got to do any because we are in an area with significant areas of deprivation and many of our young people have to work for two days a week. So, we were concerned that they uh some young people would choose the option which suited their, you know, personal circumstances which is perfectly, you know, their prerogative. But we wanted to just be very very clear about what it was. That's probably why we haven't got more running, sort of, we aren't running both alongside each other but with digital we felt that and we were more worried about the digital I've got to be honest than anything because of where we are and our relationships with some of the employers. We we are considered to be a bit of a digital hub being near Cambridge as well but many of our digital employers locally are very very small um providers. So we knew that could be a challenge with industry placements. Thanks Julia. Ben what about you, what sort of decisions did you make in terms of your curriculum offer? So we didn't have a level three um construction construction professions offer, so design surveying and planning has slotted quite nicely into that. Um and actually, we took a campus-based decision, so um similar to Julia, we are we're based across three sites as well. So we have two sites that I think obviously resembles GFE. If you like, and then we have a land-based campus as well. So we we chose to offer the T Levels at a single campus to kind of create a a technical hub for at least this first year and give us a chance to review. Um, so yeah at our Taunton campus we have our T Level provision uh in um childcare education and for for digital as well um as well as the um design surveying and planning. So, all three T Levels are around for our Taunton campus but at our Bridgewater campus we are still running um other current level three provision in those areas. So yeah, a different decision but just to to kind of see us through that first year and then making a curriculum planning decision to move forward. Thanks Ben. And um and a question about employer involvement. Um have you had a lot of employer involvement in your design and planning of the curriculum? I can pick that one up to start with if you want. So, yes would be the first answer to that. I mean it's um you know, we've really uh we've really placed that at the centre of it. I think we've known one of the key things obviously would have been around the industry placements and and cultivating those relationships with employers has been really important for for those aspects of the T Level. But more importantly, making sure everything else that's delivered as part of it has a has a relevance to industry, has an employer perspective on it whether that's through a guest lecture, whether it's through hopefully a visit at some point in time as and when circumstances allow. Um and also as I mentioned earlier, starting to provide, you know, the mock opportunities for those employer set projects, so the first time you get there isn't the, you know, the to the one that's going to contribute, if you like, towards your overall grade, isn't the first time you've experienced assessment in that way. So yeah absolutely, using panels, using informal arrangements as much employer engagements we can get has been really really important for it. Fantastic. Thanks Ben. Um and Julia, I think Stephen mentioned employer involvement um in the curriculum when he was talking. But um was that across all the T Levels? Yes, I mean we've, I'm I was I'm going to bring Steve and the team in but as I said, in terms of planning, we left it very much. We don't have a central team that do any of that, we do have an industry placement team but we let the team, the teams already had good relationships with the employers that they already work with. Um like I said, our study programmes are rich with work experience, so they have continued to develop those relationships with those employees because a lot of them, like I said, are really small where we live. So it was really important to have those individual conversations with those employers but Steve, Emma, I don't know whether either of you want to talk about any of the stuff that you've been doing or the employers you've been working with. Yes, um from a um construction point of view, we we'd, um, architectural company to we'd always worked in partnership with them around um projects and redesigning and getting them to act as mentors who, of the discussion and looking at the criteria and how they could still be involved and also a surveying company especially around when it came to what what was the latest equipment, their suppliers and where to get that from, how it was being used, drone surveying and all those other different aspects that we hadn't done in the um built environment courses, you know the heat loss and all thermal imaging cameras and things like that using VR headsets, all all the latest thing that that architects are using at this time to walk through buildings. We we were trying to get up to speed with that and having an input into that and and hence that's why we're changing our design software from what would possibly be more an engineering-based software to an actual more building design software, that's those types of things. Um Emma, I don't know whether you want to talk I don't know if you're still there, I've had you go out again. I don't know where you want… Are you there? I am going to talk about your employer connectivity. Yes, because so we did have really good engagement and we have got a really strong employer base anyway from doing the early years educator, um so for us, it was more about our assessors when they was going out he was getting them to talk about the the T Levels, looking at what it was going to, the impact it was going to be for them and getting them on board and working with us as they already have done but just in probably a slightly different way. Um so, it was, yes, it was a little bit easier in one way because that we already had a bank of over 300 employers that we use. Um in another way, it was it was just trying to get them to work in a slightly different way and understanding the T Level content a little a little bit more. Okay, thanks, That was great. Thank you very much. So, we've got a few more questions then I'm going to come to you. Um, we've had quite a few questions in the chat which our DFE colleagues have addressed regarding uh capital funding for 2022. Um but a couple of the questions were about how you spent your capital funding, what you used that money on. I think uh Louise is still on the course, so he's able. Louise has uh that and has gone through the process of all the returns and to secure that. So if Louise is able to jump in at that point, I'm sure she'd be able to give some uh insight into that. Thank you. Hi um, absolutely you know we would recognise we've been really really fortunate to benefit from the capital uh funds related to T Levels and you know, for us that was really really important because the whole um sort of ethos of T Levels is that professional technical and industry standard and what we wanted to be able to do was emulate that experience for our students whilst they were on campus and as Ben said, you know we have gone for that campus approach. So we uh, you know, we have benefited greatly, we've got a fantastic new digital learning hub at our Taunton campus and we were really looking to industry, so talk to a number of employers to sort of replicate that working environment whatever that might be because, as Ben said, we've gone broader in terms of that concept of what's a digital workplace. Um but you know, we've got a great new digital hub with a digital café alongside it for that students to create that identity as T Level learners as well. We've also benefited um by being able to refurbish our construction centre. So, we've got quite an uh old out-dated construction centre and really wanted to uh you know update that in terms of that professional outlook. So um, that opportunity for new design surveying workshops and classrooms but also building to uh this forthcoming September with the building services engineering pathways, so we've got electro uh plumbing gas and then next year on site construction coming on board. So, already planning for those resources and making sure that they're there in situation for those transition students because I think the transition courses are key to the success of the T Levels. So, it's about getting students inspired by those resources and being very hands-on with them erm from from the beginning. So actually, thanks, thank you so much Louise, both you and Julia have spoken about transition and that was one of the questions in the chat. Um I think actually, it would probably pay us perhaps to do another whole session on transition because actually um I I think that's really exciting. I think the opportunities there are really exciting um but Julia, was there any um sort of key feedback on transition, on the transition programme today from you? Um, no, I think the transition um as you and I have spoken about Cathy, there was more you you know you could do it and you didn't have to have a qualification in it. Again we thought a lot about our community and what sorts of things our young people would want to come and enroll on. So our transition had to be something that they really valued and their parents valued. Um I think the track getting the transition right, I I do agree it's probably critical to getting the right young people on the T Level, especially as I've challenged my team the the transition if as long as students have done everything they should have done on the transition and they've made good progress, they should be able to go on to the T Level. Well, that's that's quite a different thing for us you know, it's um so we're pretty much saying it's a three-year programme but I think the you know lobbying um the DFE with regards to ages of students and what they're funded for is quite important with transition, because many of our young people start at level one. We have some really really good success stories where students go all the way through right up to HE. Well, with T Level, we're not going to be able to do that. Many of our young people, we have about 350 students, start with us each year who actually start at 17. So they've tried something somewhere else and it hasn't worked out for them. So um, we need some extra solutions for them to help them be able to, um you know, go on to the T Level. I think that's all I would say about the transition. The transition is actually critical to providing um young people with access to that T Level when they've come out of school, having um not achieved what they need to to go on to the T. That's really really helpful Julia um and Sophie has actually put in the chat that there is going to be a transition programme, so uh there you are. There is going to be a transition programme uh session um in January so there'll be further details on that. Um we're very much uh beginning to run out of time. Um so, there was one more question and there was a question about the numbers of students on T Levels. You might um if you wish to, Ben, Julia, just put a sort of your sort of it could probably differ from uh from course to course, you might want to think about uh you might want to think about that if you've got time to put that in. Um but um then perhaps last question to you about English and Maths. So not so much um the English and Maths uh GCSE or functional skills but how it's embedded within the T Level. Sure um, we had this as a focus for one of the trips that we engaged with last year and we really focused on that contextual development of English and Math. So we developed a range of resources with um other colleges to share amongst ourselves that are going to help with that contextual development of English and Math including the development of it while students are on placement as well. So that was really making that trip funding um serve a very clear need for the T Level and I think more broadly certainly around the English aspect of it, it's about making sure we bridge that gap. One of the things we've been really clear about is that the T Level should open doors. You know we promoted that really really clearly since the start at the end of a T Level, students will you know have the experience to go and gain employment or go on to you know a higher or degree apprenticeship or indeed proceeding to to a course in higher education. But they need to be equipped with the skills to do that so part of that embedded English and Maths or English progression has got to be around preparing the students to to write at the level that's going to be expected as they progress.

That's great. Thanks Ben um and all it needs me to do is to thank Ben and Louise and Julia, Stephen um and Emma for their contributions. Thank you so much um and Stella, last word to you.

Yeah, I don't think um I have uh much more to add, just um adding on to Cath that’s to say thank you so much for everybody who has um taken part today either the presenters um or all the other 2022 providers for joining and asking lots of excellent questions and I hope uh that was helpful as Sophie said. If there are any other things that you want to ask us or you want to ask providers and please go on to the forum and post your questions there and hopefully you'll get lots of feedback from our first two cohorts. Um, so I think that's it. So thank you ever so much Cath, that was an excellent session um and thank you to everybody for joining.

Pleasure, um it was all it was all my college colleagues, they were brilliant. 

Thank you ever so much, thank you for giving us this opportunity um and see you all again soon.

Thanks ever so much everybody, bye-bye.

Thank you. Bye.

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