Three tutors were directly involved in this project to explore different approaches across two groups of learners. A GCSE English and vocational business tutor worked with a group of 10 students aged between 16 and 18 studying business management at Level 2, five of whom were studying GCSE English having achieved a grade 3 in their exams in school.
The English and Business tutors jointly planned a programme of intent for the first term which embedded opportunities to develop presentation skills, covering both the spoken language assessment and relevant Level 2 NCFE Business Unit criteria. Over an 8-week period, learners then carried out 4 mini presentations about themselves to their peers. Starting with 30 second presentations, the tutors gave specific feedback for improvement such as having less reliance on notes and improving eye contact.
Every other week, the learners repeated the presentation with the aim of demonstrating progress, having acted on their feedback. Learners were also required to speak for longer each time, building up to 3 minutes and to increase their use of visual resources and prompts from one picture to two and then a series of slides or prompt cards or images. A simple tracker, shared with students, captured learners’ progress (Figure 12b-1).
Following this cycle of targeted feedback and improvement, tutors and learners jointly planned their next steps in which learners began to prepare for their GCSE presentations, spending time doing so during their vocational sessions with support from both tutors. The learners acted on previous feedback to prepare 5-minute presentations in which they reviewed a book.
The Business tutor allowed time during vocational sessions for learners to read their novels and prepare presentations and then jointly filmed and assessed their final presentations during GCSE English lessons, celebrating this achievement collectively with learners. Both tutors used the presentation structures to support learners’ writing skills, with the GCSE tutor linking book review presentations to the non-fiction writing task, using the presentation skills as a springboard for further skills development.
The project leader and Head of English and maths worked with a group of 9 Functional Skills English Level 2 adult learners in an evening class, the majority of whom intended to progress onto Access to HE to pursue new careers such as in midwifery and nursing. All these learners had a Grade D or below at GCSE and required Level 2 Functional Skills in order to progress.
The approach taken with adult learners was to introduce presentation skills in the first week in September and to scaffold support to develop their skills incrementally ahead of the final level 2 presentations before Christmas. Learners discussed their previous experiences of presentations and completed a self-assessment (Figure 12b-2) after each presentation as an attempt to support them to identify areas to develop.