Learning from this project
Staffing challenges did, at times, have an impact on time dedicated to the project. However, already having a heatmap format in place that had worked previously did aid progress in this part of the project in the first term. It reminded us of the importance of keeping the scale of the project small and how useful it can be to build on previous learning which then provided an effective structure to complement the implementation of the ‘Vespa’ activities.
Researching ‘Vespa’ activities as part of our application process also helped as we had already identified some activities that we could use. However, the interesting point here is that we picked activities we thought learners would like, or what may be useful to them and put them into an embedded scheme of work that linked to key English learning, mock exams and other key dates. However, when it came to delivery, we realised this was not the case. For example, resilience task 2 was completed in January, yet we would now move this to the beginning of the year as a productive opening discussion on all aspects of the study programme.
We realised that we had not put enough thought into the differences in motivation across curriculum areas. We also realised that our scheme of work was not differentiated to meet these differences within curriculum areas. Some learners responded to activities more positively than others and we now plan to develop our ‘Vespa’ scheme of work to also consider activities for different vocational areas and vocational levels.
We also discovered that some staff were missing out the implementation of activities when they were embedded into the scheme of work. Consequently, a more overt schedule was needed to keep up to date with our delivery plan and more activities within a month were needed to enable a more effective and regular approach.
We also put more time and energy into a whole organisation approach, as we realised that this structure and support from colleagues across the college would be needed to facilitate the changes in learner behaviour, and that our original steps and teaching team alone would not be enough to bring about this change. This approach was not part of the original plan and did in some ways the hinder immediate implementation of the ‘Vespa’ tasks. However, on reflection, this was the right decision for our college and will enable us to continue with the use of ‘heat maps’ and ‘Vespa’ style activities beyond the end of the project.
This is now possible, as all colleagues have a greater understanding of the challenges learners face, the strategies or activities we can implement and the messages we can reinforce across the whole study programme. We learned that in order to significantly improve learner motivation and resilience the approach needs to be consistent across all aspects of the study programme to enable learners to make these changes and stick to them. It also enabled English staff to feel more supported and less like they were battling to develop learners on their own.