13c. ELATT

Supporting learner ownership and the formulation of authentic goals


With the launch of online Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) at ELATT, our aim was to ensure that learners and tutors had the tools and support they needed to formulate goals and to see value in the process.

You can download a PDF of this report on the Excellence Gateway (link pending).


Goal setting for adult learners is accepted as key to achievement and progress and is prominent in most Further Education (FE) funder requirements. However, it is also recognised that the specific requirements of the latter can lead to tutor-driven and formulaic goal setting across adult learning, with a loss of authenticity (Hinds, 2021).

Although this had not been an issue at ELATT, the rapid pivot to remote teaching two years ago complicated a paper-based process while tutors were having to adapt to new class dynamics online, all of which impacted upon the goal setting process.

However, with the introduction of an online platform for ILPs we identified the opportunity to go ‘back to basics’ on goal setting. We planned to draw on the experience of tutors who are strong in this area and support those who are less confident.

We aimed to get learners to see the value in goal setting by relating this to their lives and aspirations. This would form the basis for further skills development in supporting learners to break down larger goals into SMART steps.

Other Contextual Information

ELATT is an educational charity based in Hackney. Our model is to support learners in identifying and achieving their life goals by developing skills, knowledge and confidence. Our project reflects the ethos of ELATT and focuses on supporting learners to identify their life goals and formulate the smaller steps needed to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to succeed.
We deliver programmes for adults and also have a small alternative provision sixth form, which has mainly SEND learners. Adult classes are mainly still online, while the sixth form is on-site.

Three sections took part in this action research:

  • an ESOL L1 class
  • a sixth form L1-L2 English/PSD class
  • an L2 Support Work in Schools course for ESOL learners.


A small project team with representatives from ESOL, sixth form English and Vocational was formed; two of the group had supported other tutors previously in goal setting.

See below for an overview of project activities:

  • 1

    Initial Stage

    • Survey of sector specific research into the use of ILPs and goal setting.
    • Project Team discussed their perceptions of learners’ attitudes to and issues with the existing ILP process to refine aims of project.
    • Whole staff CPD – a ‘back to basics’ on goal setting.
  • 2.

    Trialling different approaches

    • Development and trials of session plans using tools and texts discussed / introduced initial stage.
    • Workshop to discuss findings.
    • Development of further strategies based on this feedback with new team members liasing with the original team.


  • 3.

    Evaluating the impact of each approach

    • Assessment of the impact on learners e.g. understanding of the concepts, development of goal formulation skills.
    • Tutor reflections (Appendix 3)
    • Interviews with learners (Appendix 3)
    • Case studies (Appendix 2)
  • 4.

    Sharing the impact of each approach

    • Whole staff CPD session in which the different approaches are shared so next trial stage with all learners could be rolled out.
    • External CPD session to inspire next stage.
    • Training in the use of online ILP.


The three approaches trialled

The first approach used a motivational reading text entitled ‘Establishing Dreams’ by Jim Rohn. This was recommended by an ex-ELATT tutor who is also a life coach and who had used the text effectively with a range of people. The text was used as a reading/discussion activity, sometimes with supporting resources, before leading the learners into personal reflection and goal sharing.

The second approach adopted a journey metaphor based on an idea from Jane Ward’s work (2002). Learners related the metaphor to their own learning journeys and, through discussion, identified and shared goals and obstacles.

The third approach utilised peer and external support to provide the capacity for one-to-one discussion aimed at raising aspirations and stimulating discussion prior to goal formulation. This activity, which took place online, was enabled by volunteers from one of ELATT’s corporate partners. Learners prepared questions for the volunteers to learn about their goals and the volunteers were briefed about the aims of the session. Pairs were then directed into breakout rooms and given drop-in support by ELATT staff.

Outcomes and Impact

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Teaching, Learning and Assessment
Our learners often failed to see the relevance of goal setting within the classroom setting or as connected to their life goals. The importance of ensuring that their goals reflected their interests and were sufficiently challenging to motivate their continued perseverance (Shechtman et al., 2013) couldn’t be underestimated. Consequently, we felt that we needed to explore the purpose of goal setting in different ways before moving on to activities which focused on breaking bigger goals down into smaller steps

Approaches 1 and 2

The trainer for our initial CPD provided the motivational text which encouraged the learners to identify dreams and aspirations. This text was then used by the project team both in its full form, in a shortened version and an adapted version for lower-level learners (Appendix 3a). One team member additionally created classroom resources to support understanding and vocabulary acquisition alongside goal setting.

The reading was well received by both adult and sixth form learners, with tutors reporting that it was an effective lead-in for prompting discussion, reflection and the formulation of life goals. While adult ESOL classes are approximately 80% female, the reverse is true for the sixth form, so this broad appeal was of interest. One sixth form learner spontaneously commented, “It gives me hope”.

Although, two of the three tutors who used this text reported not responding on a personal level to the text, both said that they would use it again due to its flexibility and universal appeal. Learner engagement with the text was positive. Frequently, our learners find it difficult to recall materials used in class, so we were pleased that when asked 3-4 months later about activities which helped with goal setting, most of the learners were able to remember the motivational text without prompting:

We did discussions and we also did reading [what’s happening] on a newspaper article about dreams.

– Sixth former

We read about our dream/ambition – what do I want to do in the future? We did our target after that.

– Adult ESOL

A delay in the introduction of the new online platform (ProPortal) meant that learners were not able to manage their ILPs independently during the research period. Unfortunately, this limited the ability to assess the effectiveness of the approach with ‘before’ and ‘after’ comparisons which are only now taking place.

The other tool trialled was a learning journey metaphor outlined in Appendix 3a. When comparing staff reflections on which of the approaches were more successful, we found that approach 1, the Jim Rohn text, was favoured as tutors felt that discussions remained focused and led naturally to the learner goal formulation (Appendix 3c).

Learners who took part in approach 1 developed quite strong and specific goals and generally were able to recall life and in-class goals with linkage:

Come in on time and work towards getting GCSEs. Improve punctuating and get credentials for future prospect.

– Sixth former

“My goal is to complete L2 [Level 2] but I also want IT course so I am doing that now. I will do L2 [ESOL] in September. My goal is a part-time job. I am full-time mum. I am looking at supermarket, my local area retail shop. … When I started I can’t speak one sentence, Now I can speak confidently and understand” (Adult ESOL).

One participating class was a group of seven ESOL learners on a 16-week basic teaching assistant course. Within a month of finishing the course, three were in work and another two were close to starting, which is a faster and higher percentage than usual. This cannot be definitively attributed to the goals focus but the same approach is being used for the latest class to see if the results can be replicated.

Approach 3 – 1:1 support

The learners in the group assigned to work one-to-one with volunteer mentors (see Appendix 3b) also responded positively.

It helped to hear the process of establishing and achieving goals verbally.

– Sixth former

I was able to show not only to others but to myself that I am capable.

– Sixth former

The tutor reported that the work undertaken in the workshop not only supported learner goal writing but also provided useful material for learners working on personal statements for further study or work placement applications.

Trials with all three approaches allowed plenty of time for class discussion with structured peer support, either in breakout sessions or as feedback when goals were shared.

Organisational Development

Discussions with learners from classes that did not take part in the project provided a useful comparison in how goal aware and motivated the learners were.
These learners were asked about their goals and experience of goal setting. They were found to have clear rationales for joining courses at ELATT and often referenced discussing these with their tutors:

Each of us has a time slot and we do one to one for 15 minutes. We set goals and aims. What we want to do in future. My goal is to work with children and find a job in school. I would like to be a maths teacher.

However, few learners referred spontaneously to individual in-course goals and those that did generally named a specific skill or course component. In addition, while learners regularly referred to supportive online relationships, “it is such a good community, you can ask the others “, these relationships were not referred to in the context of goals, targets or aspirations.

The follow-up CPD session at the beginning of semester two emphasised that sessions on goal setting are a good use of time and can be incorporated into sessions, particularly English and ESOL. In addition to the motivational text and supporting resources, a template that serves as a basis for class discussion and information sheet for learners was provided (Appendix 3d).

One further outcome was that the session plan for pairing sixth formers with corporate volunteer mentors was refocused and the new format received excellent feedback from both mentors and mentees. The aim was for learners to develop goals and work these into personal statements but, as one tutor commented:

Most learners are SEND and/or have anxiety issues, so this made it hard for them to open up. So, in preparation for the session, the learners prepared a list of questions to find out about their volunteer/mentor’s goals, aspirations and journeys.

Previously mentors and learners had often struggled to maintain dialogue but all reported productive and enjoyable sessions.

Learning from this project

The project has allowed us to take our time and really reflect upon the purpose of goal setting and how it should fit in with our ethos as an organisation. Rather than view the process as some necessary administrative task required to satisfy funding requirements, staff have relished the opportunity to revisit and reflect on how goal setting fits into their teaching as can be seen from the comment below.

This action research has changed the way I teach. I think more about how the learners learn, how to make them independent. It is something I have changed. I do a lot more on study skills and critical thinking. Goal setting – and everything else – now takes more time but it pays off. The learners know that achieving their goals is ultimately up to them and I cannot do it for them.
– LS Tutor

Feedback from both staff and learners has confirmed the need to adopt a more reflective approach in which learners are encouraged to focus on their long-term goals and aspirations as swiftly as possible. One of our sixth form tutors observed that their learners were:

.. familiar with the concept of goal setting through formal reviews, course targets and ad hoc goals, often around attendance and behaviour. However, it often (took) at least a year at ELATT for (them)to gain the confidence to express aspirations and plan steps to achieve (them).

We found that the same was true of many of our adult learners, who arrived at ELATT with firm goals, combined with an understanding of the goal setting process. This applies particularly to those who have mental health issues/other disabilities or those who have little experience outside the home. This is the learner quoted previously who is now looking for part-time retail work and who was described by her initial contact as ‘shy and isolated’:

I want to more better my speaking and listening. It is all thanks to ELATT.

As a result, we acknowledged that goal setting support has to be iterative – and success needs to be tracked over the long term. This finding was supported by Dr Marcin Lewandowski, whose PhD subject was learner goals, and who attended a February tutor meeting to share his experience.

Learners share their smart targets.

Goal setting in general, and specific, measured, achievable, realistic and timed targets (SMART) in particular, can be powerful tools which equip learners to progress on their courses and towards life goals. But forming SMART targets is not instinctive and may require considerable scaffolding. The example above is by a student who has been with ELATT for more than a year and is in his third iteration of SMART goal setting. Effective scaffolding in this area would be a further research activity.

An additional finding was that, prior to the research, we had assumed that tools and resources for adults and sixth formers would be different due to life experience, language and SEND factors but we found that the same resources and tools were largely effective. This very welcome finding has resulted in the different departments being motivated to collaborate and share resources.

Professional Development

Using the ETF’s Professional Standards for teachers and trainers. Please note, this report refers to the 2014-2022 standards.

The professional standards strongly linked to this project are:

  •  Professional Standard 13: ‘motivate and inspire learners to promote achievement and develop their skills to enable progression’
  • Professional Standard 17: ‘enable learners to share responsibility for their own learning and assessment’.

We wanted learners to take control of, and responsibility for, their own learning. The project was designed to take into account the fact that this would come more easily to some learners than others, depending on their previous educational experience, expectations of education, levels of confidence, as well as life experience. We also recognised that while our tutors are universally committed to their learners, there was variation in confidence and understanding of best practice in goal setting.

This project gave us the opportunity to investigate the current experience of learners across the organisation, trial tools and approaches, as well as develop expertise and understanding within the project team. Most importantly, the resources and activities were devised to scaffold both learners and tutors in goal setting and have the flexibility to be accessible and engaging across the range of experience.

There were also positive benefits in bringing together tutors from the Life Skills, English and Vocational teams (although the Vocational team participation in the project fell outside the scope of the ETF OTLA). This took the form of joint CPD, a workshop and regular team meetings to share activities, progress and findings, as well as to discuss the principles underpinning our research.

A further professional standard was also relevant to our research project:

  • Professional Standard 15: ‘promote the benefits of technology and support learners in its use’.

This related to the introduction of Pro in 2021-22 across the organisation. A delay in the introduction of the learner platform meant that tutors had to input goals on the learners’ behalf during semester 1 through screen sharing (online classes) or side-by-side (in person).
In semester 2, CPD combined technical support in a ‘walk through’ from the learner perspective and a discussion with resources (Appendix 3d) which could be adapted and shared with learners to support independent goal setting.

Learners then completed the ‘About Me’ section with information about their life aims and collaborated with the group to develop relevant and targeted in-class goals. Learners still had the opportunity to adapt or form their own in-class goals in discussion with the tutor but in practice, the class discussion resulted in goals which were chosen by most learners. Because of the delay in implementation, we have not yet had a chance to assess progress fully, but a learner sample can be found in Appendix 3d.


Appendix 2: Learner Case Studies

Appendix 3: Additional Resources and Reflections


Hynes, C. (2021) Choose your own adventure: The Action Research panto! Available at: [accessed 30.3.22].

NRDC (2004). ‘Reflect 1: Individual Learning Plans’. [online]. Available at: [accessed 30.3.22].

Rohn, J. (no date). ‘Establishing Dreams and Goals by Jim Rohn’ [online]. Available at: [accessed 30.3.22].

Shechtman, N., DeBarger, A. H., Dornsife, C., Rosier, S., & Yarnall, L. (2013). Promoting grit, tenacity, and perseverance: Critical factors for success in the 21st century. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology.

Ward, J. (2002). ‘Learning Journeys: Learners’ Voices: Learners’ Views on Progress and Achievement in Literacy and Numeracy’. LSDA.

  • 2016

    Milestone 1

  • 2017

    Milestone 2


  • 2018

    Milestone 3

9a. New College Durham

Improving writing for ESOL students stuck at Entry Level 3

New College Durham

This project aimed to help students who were having difficulty progressing from Entry Level 3 (E3) to Level 1 (L1) due to weaker writing skills. We trialled different strategies to develop writing and liaised with Functional Skills (FS) tutors. We learnt having an intense focus on writing skills benefits overall language learning and confidence.

You can download a PDF of this report on the Excellence Gateway (link pending).


Learners and tutors working togetherWe have a number of students who have plateaued at E3, hindering progress with the language they need in daily life. We sought to find ways to break down this barrier and empower them to be better writers, using a focus on writing systems. Initially, we focussed on how feedback informs writing, but after some interesting reading on a project working with children who struggle to read (Walter, Dockrell and Connelly, 2021) we broadened the scope to consider interventions at text, sentence and word level.

Other Contextual Information

working collaboratively during the projectTwo ESOL tutors carried out research with one ESOL group each: the first was a group of students living in the UK for some time with highly effective verbal communication skills but weaker literacy skills and less accurate grammar (the literacy group); the second was a mixed group of ESOL students with a more EFL profile, many of whom hold professional qualifications from their own countries (mainstream ESOL). We liaised with tutors from the FS English team, and a key outcome from this was being able to recruit a mentor for each group: an adult FS student and a sixth form student.


Here you can see the stages of our action research, as we explored how we can develop our practice in supporting Entry Level 3 students with their writing skills. At each stage of our research, the two ESOL tutors worked closely together, as well as with the FS English team. See Appendices 3b-d for examples of changes to our practice, and examples of student work.

a screenshot of a flowchart showing the approach the project team took

The classes followed different approaches which provided us with opportunities for interesting professional discussion, as well as the chance to learn from each other whilst doing our research. The reason for this difference was to look at a range of strategies. Each tutor chose to do what they felt more comfortable with. This diagram shows the divergence of approach.

flowcharts showing the different process of a approaches the literacy and mainstream ESOL classes took

Outcomes and Impact

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Increased focus on writing has borne fruit in following areas:

  • Better writing skills. We found that writing was better planned and more coherent across both groups. There were noticeable improvements in the grammar and spelling of the students in the literacy group as can be seen by the examples below from early on in the course, and the February test.

Start of the year:

example of student writing at the start of the year


example of student writing in February

  • Better understanding and more accurate use of grammar in both spoken and written work (see Appendix 2 and example above)
  • Increased confidence. Students have reported that they feel more confident since starting the course. This manifests itself in them taking the opportunity to speak to other students across college during college events, and seeking out opportunities to communicate with others.
  • Students achieving goals outside college. Two of the students from the literacy class have found employment during the course. One stated that she would not have had the confidence to fill in the application form before starting the course.
  • Improvements in learner performance. It is interesting that both approaches saw improvements in learner performance, although it is not possible to state categorically that one was more successful than the other.

Organisational Development

Organisational developments included:

  • Increased awareness across student body (mentors) of what ESOL is and who the students are.
  • Increased working across departments (ESOL and FS). Staff and students are now more likely to work together.
  • Future training for FS staff from ESOL staff. The curriculum manager for ESOL has been asked to work with FS tutors in the future to better support those working with non-native speakers and the language difficulties they may have.

Learning from this project

We learnt that there are no quick fixes to an entrenched problem such as poor writing skills. At the mid-way point, following progress tests, we were feeling disheartened that we could not see the big gains we had hoped for. But after speaking to the students, we realised that some of the gains were not visible in their writing as such, but those detailed above (confidence, communication, etc).

Following on from that, we learnt to temper our own expectations, and recognise that even small steps forward can represent big gains. The fact that one student felt able to even fill in an application form, a task she had avoided for some time such was her reluctance to write, represents a huge step forward.

We also realised that teaching one skill in isolation is actually not possible. By focussing on writing, we were bringing in more focus on grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc, all of which benefit language skills overall.

Finally, language improvement brings all sorts of benefits with it, including in the ‘soft skills’ of confidence and resilience.

We worked with the FS team and feel we all benefited from it. However, it would have been even better had they not been going through structural change at the same time, and therefore not able to devote as much time as hoped for to the project. Similarly, the stress of persistent and prolonged staff absence due to COVID-19 put a huge strain on the project lead who was not able to spend as much time as planned on the project at certain times.

Professional Development

Using the ETF’s Professional Standards for teachers and trainers. Please note, this report refers to the 2014-2022 standards.

  • 3. Inspire, motivate and raise aspirations of learners through enthusiasm and knowledge.

    Our project gave us permission to focus more on writing skills, and by doing so, we were able to break down the barrier of fear that holds so many back from writing regularly. We were able to give students the space they needed to understand what was required of them and to plan thoroughly for the task ahead.

  • 6. Build positive and collaborative relationships with colleagues and learners.

    Our project enabled us to work with colleagues from the FS English team, to draw on their knowledge and share ideas across both teams. It has led to a closer working relationship going forward, where we will be sharing tips on working with non-native speakers.

  • 14. Plan and deliver effective learning programmes for diverse groups or individuals in a safe and inclusive environment.

    We emphasised to students at the start of the year that there were no assumptions about what they knew, and this helped them to go back to the basics of understanding what different parts of speech we have and how they fit together. The students in the literacy class in particular have been so supportive of one another, as they recognise that this is a journey they must all make, even though they have different starting points.


Appendix 2: Learner Case Studies

Appendix 3: Additional Information and resources

Research Poster

This project also produced a poster for display at the NATECLA National Conference 2022. You can view the poster below and access a PDF copy via the curated exhibition Wakelet.


Walter, K., Dockrell, J., Connelly, V. (2021) A sentence-combining intervention for struggling writers: response to intervention Available at: (Accessed 12th December 2021).


Tools for teaching (and how to spell them)
exploring English in vocational contexts

Novus: HMP Liverpool

This project captured a range of reflections on the experience of teaching and learning English in the context of vocational training in prisons. It challenged tutors’ assumptions about learners and led to clearer insights into and development of support for the needs of learners.

You can download a PDF of this report on the Excellence Gateway (link pending).


Previous research for OTLA 7 showed that HMP Liverpool’s body of learners has a desire for self-improvement but was not particularly engaged with Functional Skills learning. This project for OTLA 8 was intended to address how learner engagement and motivation could be captured and developed by strengthening links between English and vocational teaching. Instead of learning English as a separate topic, it was hoped that learners would find greater relevance by practising English directly in the context of vocational workshops therefore highlighting the importance of English to daily life and the workplace.

Other Contextual Information

Our action research was part of the Education and Training Foundation’s OLTA 8 Programme. The research focused on the education department of HMP Liverpool with delivery provided by Novus. It took place in the vocational workshops, particularly joinery, and involved a group of 12 learners undertaking a Level 1 joinery qualification. The project lead, an English tutor, also worked closely with vocational tutors from a range of subjects including catering, industrial cleaning and joinery to ensure their views, feedback and attitudes towards the research could be accurately captured.

Initially, there were plans for more English tutors to be involved in the project, trialling activities using vocational topics and resources in their lessons to encourage greater collaboration between departments.


The approach to this project took the form of four main strands. Firstly, learners from the general vocational cohort were interviewed to establish their competence, comfort and opinions about the importance and relevance of English to their past and current life experiences. These took place over in-cell telephones which allowed learners space and privacy to be honest in their answers.

Data from the interviews (which showed a group of learners who generally appreciated the relevance of English skills to their lives inside and outside of prison) was then used to inform the planning of English teaching activities which were conducted in the joinery workshop towards the end of lessons. These included spelling words relevant to the joinery qualification (taken from workbooks) and texts a joiner might use at work (e.g., risk assessments). Learner reflections were captured to record what they had learned and how they felt about the activities. The tutor also reflected on each activity.

In addition to teaching activities, detailed explorations of joinery learners’ previous experience of English learning took place including at school, prison and elsewhere, how they would prefer to be taught, what has worked well in the past and what they would like to try in the future. Interviews were conducted with a range of learners including those who were less receptive to the changes in learning trialled by the project. Learners with contrasting views and experiences were selected to examine effective ways of teaching English to vocational learners.

Discussions were held with vocational tutors to find out their attitudes towards and confidence with English teaching and their opinions on the impact of CPD related to the research. This was to ensure any developments in teaching activities would be sustainable and easy to maintain in future.

Outcomes and Impact

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The impact of this project on teaching, learning and assessment can be seen in many ways. The first is improved relationships between vocational trainers and English teachers. Previously, the departments were noticeably separate both physically and collaboratively. Vocational trainers have been able to feel safe communicating their feelings toward English teaching: ‘I don’t think it would be fair on me or the learner to teach them something I’m not confident in myself’ [Appendix 7].

This has enabled bespoke CPD intended to improve confidence and adaptations to lesson scheduling to allow better use of available teaching time. It is now normal for vocational trainers to discuss their planning with English tutors to check that English has been included effectively. This has led to a greater focus on embedding English in vocational training and increased knowledge about it. There is now a bank of English resources for tutors and trainers to use that are directly related to the vocational subjects being taught. They include the use and spelling of technical vocabulary and exploration of texts that are used when working within the industries the learners are getting their qualification for [Appendix 8].

There is also now a much better understanding of vocational learners’ capabilities and attitudes towards English. There was a general assumption that learners chose vocational subjects because they were no good at or had no interest in learning English skills. While this may be true for some learners, the majority of those interviewed could clearly and articulately explain how English was relevant to their lives and how they used it before and while being in prison [Appendix 3]. Even if they said they preferred vocational subjects to English learning, and did not want to study it further, they could appreciate its importance. The learner contributing to Case Study Two who did not want to learn English said: ‘You use it for everything, don’t you? Even though you don’t realise it, you are.’ [Appendix 6]. This challenged vocational tutors’ statements such as ‘they would disengage’ or ‘I don’t think they would be bothered’ [Appendix 7] and led to the implementation of English drop-in sessions for vocational leaners who express a wish for this or who need to learn specifically identified skills.

Organisational Development

The main organisational change has been the development of English teaching alongside vocational training. Previously vocational trainers were expected to teach English to address mistakes made by learners, without being given appropriate training to do so. Vocational trainers now have a range of trialled resources to use and have been empowered to develop their own activities which teach English and vocational topics in parallel should this suit their cohort of learners [Appendix 8]. This was a result of listening to learners, vocational trainers and English tutors. Contributions to the development of English teaching were not limited to English tutors themselves: ‘I have put together some theory lessons that are based on my Level 1 course that will include them doing written work.’ [Appendix 6]. The professional standard of the building of positive and collaborative relationships with colleagues and learners was seen frequently throughout, with learners and vocational trainers giving insights that would not have been obvious to an English tutor planning alone [Appendix 4]. New perspectives were gained through detailed interviews with learners who had contrasting viewpoints [Appendices 1 and 6]. These led to the decision to set up English drop-in sessions for learners who want them or those identified by vocational trainers as needing to work on specific skills. These will be conducted by English teachers to cater for those learners who needed confidence in their tutor’s subject knowledge.

Learning from this project

Findings from this project can be seen to link to those of OTLA 6 where a focus on spelling within vocational prison workshops was explored. Common themes across both pieces of research include the ‘how learners benefit from breaking words into syllables when learning spelling’ and ‘how improving the confidence of vocational trainers really helps if they are required to teach aspects of English’. ‘Encouraging staff to try a different approach within their delivery, coupled with the introduction of a new concept, has led to their improved confidence and autonomy…’ (OTLA 6 Project 10d Novus, 2020).

By recording reflections and feedback from learners and vocational trainers, it was possible to develop resources directly linking to work, enabling them to participate more confidently: ‘It would need to be fun and interesting’ and ‘Integrate it more into joinery’ [Appendix 6]. Trainers have been supported to think carefully about their approach to English and are now equipped to develop English resources to use alongside vocational teaching where appropriate. ‘I asked the learners about [my English resources] and the majority would be keen to do them, so I would be confident in delivering it that way.’ [Appendix 7]. This ensured the sustainability of learning from the project in conjunction with learner drop-in sessions.
This research would have been even better if its scope had not been restricted by physical limitations caused by environmental issues and Covid outbreaks which caused workshops and catering to be closed for many months. Despite gaining useful insights from activities that were trialled, more data could have been gathered if these were started sooner.

However, as this change in direction led to detailed insights from learner interviews, it is possible that the information seen in the case studies might not have been gained otherwise.

This project challenged the assumption that vocational learners have little appreciation of the relevance of English. Even the least receptive of learners could articulate the importance of using English for work and daily life. It highlighted the need for tutors to contextualise the teaching of English to maximise its meaning, impact and use for the learner and for vocational trainers to have tools to teach English (if they need them) in addition to the tools of their trade.

Professional Development

Using the ETF’s Professional Standards for teachers and trainers. Please note, this report refers to the 2014-2022 standards.

  • 1. Reflect on what works best in your teaching and learning to meet the diverse needs of learners

    By trialling English resources and capturing reflections from learners, the vocational department is now able to extend opportunities for those who have previously thought that ‘academic’ subjects were ‘not for them’. The reflections given were sometimes bluntly honest which encouraged in-depth thinking around what might work better. It was then possible to teach English in different ways to meet the needs of more learners. Working with and adapting teaching approaches for those with ADHD and other neurodiversities gave tutors a greater insight into how to support English for a wider range of learners.

  • 2. Evaluate and challenge your practice, values and beliefs.

    Our project provided time and space for us to come together as a teaching team to challenge our assumptions about how learners deconstruct and build words. By engaging in research activity that asked for learners’ perspectives, we were able to appreciate that through understanding learners existing spelling strategies, and building on these, greater progress was made than when we started from a position of learners as spelling novices.

  • 10. Evaluate your practice with others and assess its impact on learning.

    Discussion of the success and failure of teaching activities often took place between the vocational trainer and the English tutor. As a result of these discussions, it was possible to focus on details of the activities which posed particular challenges (e.g. the spelling of word endings) and how these could be addressed. The vocational tutor was often able to capture more detailed feedback in conversation with learners which led to changes in the delivery of future activities.

  • 20. Contribute to organisational development and quality improvement through collaboration with others.

    Links and working relationships between vocational and English departments have now been strengthened through discussion about and the gathering of ideas from tutors/trainers from a range of areas. There is a renewed focus on the embedding of English in vocational teaching and drop-in sessions for learners have been planned for vocational workshops.


Appendix 2: Learner Case Studies

Appendix 3: Initial attitudes to English learning

Appendix 4: Learner Reflections on Activities

Appendix 5: Tutor’s Reflections on Activities

Appendix 6: Joinery Learners’ Interview Responses

Appendix 7: Trainer Discussions

Appendix 8: Resource Padlet


Claire Collins Consultancy (2022) Empowering Vocational Tutors to Develop a Phonics-Based Approach to Functional English [online] Available at: Accessed: 14.03.2022.

6c: Suffolks New College

Developing reading for pleasure

Suffolk New College

This project sought to address the negative feelings that some of our students have about reading. We wanted to nurture a love of reading and ‘reading for pleasure’ throughout our college by introducing a student book club. We found that the book club inspired a love of reading as well as improving students’ confidence and establishing new friendships.

You can download a PDF of this report on the Excellence Gateway (link pending).


Many studies cite big reductions in the amount of time that young people spend reading, and ‘daily reading levels have fallen for young people aged 16 to 18’ (National Literacy Trust, 2020). At Suffolk New College we can see that most of our students are still not reading for pleasure, which results in them having a limited vocabulary that inevitably holds them back from achieving higher grades in English. There is a growing body of evidence that illustrates the importance of reading for pleasure for both educational purposes as well as personal development (Clark and Rumbold, 2006).

Other Contextual Information

Our action research was part of the Education and Training Foundation’s OTLA 8 Programme and took place within our FE college. Ten students joined the book club during the course of the project. They came from different vocational areas and had varying levels of English. Two were studying Functional Skills, seven were resitting GCSE English and one had completed GCSE English in November.
For the purpose of this project the definition of ‘reading for pleasure’ has been defined by the National Literacy Trust as:

Reading that we do of our own free will, anticipating the satisfaction that we will get from the act of reading. It also refers to reading that having begun at someone else’s request we continue because we are interested in it.
– Clark and Rumbold, National Literacy Trust, 2006

When this report discusses a ‘reading culture’ it is an ‘environment where reading is championed, valued, respected, and encouraged’ (Hawthorne, 2001).

Approachphoto of a book

We promoted the book club to all students at the college from the start of the new academic year. We made a PowerPoint presentation and sent it to the vocational teachers at the college, who then shared this with students as part of the college induction week. The PowerPoint included a contact email address and students were asked to send an email if they were interested in joining. We ensured that it was advertised to all students in induction week, regardless of their level of English. We wanted to nurture that love of reading they may already have had to promote a shift to a whole college reading culture.

Our first meeting was in the college library. We used A3 paper and post-it notes to gather information about the students’ reading habits and preferences and why they wanted to join the book club (see Appendix 2b). We also asked them where they would like to meet and how they would like to keep in touch between meetings.

At the students’ request, we set up a Google chat and Google classroom for everyone in the book club to keep in touch between meetings. We also used the poll function within Google chat to ask students’ views about book choices and meeting times (see appendices 2c and d).

We met once a month during the college lunch hour in a free classroom (as the students wanted somewhere quieter than the library). The meetings provided a friendly, inclusive space (complete with biscuits!) where students could discuss specific questions relating to the book, and then choose the next one to read. This provided an opportunity for students to voice their opinions in relation to the issues and topics that feature in the books. We used dialogic teaching to address social injustice and to empower our students (see Appendix 2f).
Questions that were very open and encouraged discussion worked well; they often focused on the characters’ morals or how the students would react if they were placed in similar situations. Sometimes the questions would be more challenging for example: “How does the need to endlessly move and consume create inequality?” (based on the Mortal Engines novel).

Before the first meeting, we had chosen four books that we knew were accessible, explored open themes and were available on Kindle and as PDF and audiobook versions to ensure accessibility. The project leader chose the first book (Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo) as students were quite shy at the start. We purchased enough copies of the books to ensure that everyone had their own.

We continually took on board students’ views on the running of the club and the literature we would read. Their ideas were captured on Google chat as well as being recorded in the monthly meetings. This allowed all participants to feel involved throughout the project.
Students were encouraged to tell their friends about the book club and, as a result, the number of students attending increased from five to ten as the word spread.
Between October and March, the students in the book club had read four different books (see Appendix 2e).

Outcomes and Impact

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Promoted from the start of year, the opportunity to attend a book club provided a more accessible approach to the teaching of reading, which can often be seen as an intimidating aspect of English. A dialogic teaching structure was needed, to ensure that the conversation was focused on the books we read. Questions taken from sites (see Appendix 2f), allowed teachers to create a more question and answer- based discussion with the students. Once the students had seen this modelled, teachers were able to ask one student each month to lead the questions themselves. This had a positive impact as this ensured that the meetings were less like a teacher-led lesson and more like a relaxed conversation between like-minded peers.

The teachers’ promotion of the book club gave students access to good quality, contemporary books. Some of the students worked collaboratively after having read the book and were able to offer suggestions to their teacher and fellow students on the text in question. Students offered suggestions about what books to read next, these were based on books they had heard of or were keen to read themselves.

While we envisaged that the students would complete more peer learning outside of the classroom as a result of the book club, this was not easily assessed and social interactions were the main interactions that continued, with students sharing what they were reading outside of the book club (see Appendix 2h).

We wanted the sharing of best practice to extend to other partner institutions to help promote reading for all students. The project lead has already liaised with one other college about running their own book club. We discussed with them what had worked well and, in return, they gave us some ideas on how we could improve this group even further and link it more to the curriculum in the future.

Attendance was monitored and feedback from the students gathered. Over the course of the action research project, there was a steady increase in attendance to 10 participants in total. To understand why and what it was that they enjoyed about the book club we asked students in Google Chat ‘Are you enjoying book club and if so, why?’ Here are a couple of the students’ responses:

Yes, I am enjoying it because it is a chance to make friends and talk about something I am interested in, I like reading. The book discussions are also fun, especially discussing the characters and the storylines. Also a chance to find new authors and books I may like.

– Book Club Student

I’m enjoying book club because we have some good discussions about the books we read and how well the characters in the books are presented.

– Book Club Student

Organisational Development

Our project was inclusive because we made sure the book club was available to all students at the college and we promoted it widely. There was also a strong focus on student voice throughout, as we actively sought their views at every stage, from when and how to meet to which books to read.

The project encouraged collaboration between the English department and staff from other areas of the college as the English teachers spoke to vocational teachers to ask them to promote the book club in their lessons.

The project promoted and celebrated different voices, perspectives and insights through the books we read and the discussions that followed at our weekly meetings. One student said that these meetings were:

A great place to talk about [how] I kind of picture the events in the book because of [my] autism, I picture it in my head like a movie, only quite blurry and fuzzy and a lot of the time I can only really imagine silhouettes of characters and images rather than actual detailed characters and objects. That said, if a character is actually described really well and sounds similar to a character from another story of media that I like, like an anime character, video game character, etc. then I tend to picture the described character as the character it reminds me of throughout the whole book. It was nice to hear that I’m not the only person who imagines things like this when we read.

Learning from this project

One aspect of the project that worked well was the use of Google Chat, which enabled us to monitor attendance, gauge how far along in the book they were and allowed all participants a chance to voice their opinions on the book. As time went on, we noticed that students gained confidence and engaged in discussions with less prompting than they did at the start. After a few months, some were confident enough to lead the questioning themselves.

We decided to work collaboratively with the students to select books, which worked well as it ensured the books covered a range of different genres. However, it did mean that the book lengths varied and some were simply too long for the students to read in a month.
If we were to begin this project again, it would be interesting to see if this book club had an effect on the students’ ability to analyse language on paper, as well as verbally. Ideally, we could have created an assessment at the beginning of the project and then at the end to compare results.

The project leader noticed that, as the book club went on and better relationships were formed, students were more willing to express individual opinions, even when those differed from the opinions of others in the group. This demonstrates the importance of getting relationships right within a classroom setting, to allow students to build their confidence in responding to questions honestly.

Initially, we had planned to work collaboratively with the library services at the college to carry out the promotion of the reading for pleasure book club and linking these to aspects of the classroom teaching. We hoped to work together with the County Council Local Libraries to widen participation, access to books and other community services. Unfortunately, this was not viable; instead, we had to order books in and the participants found our library to be too crowded for our purposes. The County Council Library did not have enough copies ready and so we decided to pay for books. This didn’t always work well as some months we waited a while for the books to arrive. Ideally, we would like to secure some funding from the college every year for this going forward. However, preferably, we would love to continue to work with the County Council with the eventual aim of being able to secure books from the County Library.

One of the main issues that we faced was the organising of the club around the students’ timetables. Students from different courses around the college have different timetables and some weren’t always able to attend. Ideally, in the future, we would love the college to be able to run three or four different book club groups in order to accommodate the timetable needs of as many different students as possible. In the future, it would be more beneficial to ensure we have one base room for the monthly meetings as this project has seen us use empty classrooms, which has not been ideal. Ideally, we would like to secure one classroom that can be used for the college book club going forward. We would love to be able to have one consistent classroom that could be used to host the meetings of different book clubs on different days.

Professional Development

Using the ETF’s Professional Standards for teachers and trainers. Please note, this report refers to the 2014-2022 standards.

  • 1. Reflect on what works best in your teaching and learning to meet the diverse needs of learners.

    Our project provided us with the opportunity to offer a range of different text types to suit the students’ needs. We ensured that all books were available as audiobooks or PDFs if they had Irlens syndrome and needed a colour that suited their needs.

  • 3. Inspire, motivate and raise aspirations of learners through your enthusiasm and knowledge

    Participants reported that they were more inclined to read outside of the classroom because of this group. The dialogic questioning used in the meetings inspired and motivated students to discuss themes, characters and vocabulary.

  • + Encourage pupils to take a responsible and conscientious attitude to their own work and study.

    Participants were encouraged to keep track of the reading they were doing in the form of a tracker and to write reviews of the books they had finished. Making notes in their books too.


Appendix 2: Learner Case StudiesAppendix

2a: Student responses to ‘Are you enjoying book club and why?’

Appendix 2b:Students’ responses to ‘Why did you want to join book club’?

Appendix 2c: Students’ responses to ‘what genres would you like to read/do you enjoy reading currently?’

Appendix 2d: An example of how Polly Bot was created and used in Google Chat to involve students.

Appendix 2e: A photo of some of the books different books the students read between October and March.

Appendix 2F: Questions used to guide discussion on Mortal Engines

Appendix 2g. An example of a student using Google Chat to refer a friend to the club

Appendix 2h. An example of a student using Google Chat


Clark, C., and Teravainen-Goff, A. (2020). ‘Children and young people’s reading in 2019. Findings from our annual literacy survey.’ National Literacy Trust: London.
Clark, C., and Rumbold, K. (2006). ‘Reading for pleasure: a research overview’. National Literacy Trust: London.

Hawthorne, H. (2021). High Speed Training. ‘How to promote a reading culture in schools’. Available at: [accessed 30.3.22].

Scholastic (2018) Mortal Engines. Available at: [Accessed 13.10.21]

University of Cambridge (2022). What is Dialogic Teaching? Available at:,%2C%20not%20just%20teacher%2Dpresentation. [accessed 13.5.22].

4b: North Lincolnshire ACL

How to create a ‘fast track’ L2 FS English curriculum model, with positive impact on attendance and achievement rates

North Lincolnshire Council Adult Education and Community Learning

This project allowed our service to evaluate and revise the way that we design and deliver our English Functional Skills, Level 2 curriculum. We are now able to successfully provide a condensed, intensive, and fast track English curriculum for individual learners who can complete the full Level 2 qualification in a total of 17 weeks.

You can download a PDF of this report on the Excellence Gateway (link pending).


Before starting this project, the Senior Lead Tutor had conducted research into how other adult education and community learning (AECL) providers deliver ‘Fast Track’ English courses. Historically, North Lincolnshire Council AECL has only provided a very traditional approach to delivering Functional Skills (FS) English at Level 1 and Level 2, in the form of a programme running from September to July, with learners completing all exams and assessments at the end of the academic year. Increasingly, tutors within the English department were finding that more academically able Level 2 learners were being ‘held back’ by this delivery model. Similarly, tutors were becoming increasingly concerned about allowing learners onto courses towards the end of the academic year when the course had been running since September.

A university centre opened in Scunthorpe in September 2018 and over the past 2-3 years there has been an increase in the aspirations of the local area, as adults can now progress without having to travel further afield, fitting in with work and family life. After IAG with the university, learners are being referred to AECL, as entry requirements include Level 2 FS English. This often occurs later in the academic year, so we recognised the need to revise the programme to enable learners to achieve their English qualifications by the University’s September intake.

In addition, the pandemic has prompted a lot of self-evaluation for people who have reflected on their personal and work lives, and now want to develop themselves. However, many jobs and qualifications have a minimum requirement of Level 2 FS English. As a result, some adults have been frustrated and do not want to wait a full year to gain a qualification, which is ‘just’ a steppingstone to their future goal. An example of this is from one of our September 2021 intake,

“I’ve been in aviation for 30 years but my passion is the ambulance service. I applied for the Yorkshire ambulance service, got through all testing but was denied the post due to education history and no English GCSE.”


Examples from learners who started the qualification in February 2022 and needed the English qualification before September include:

“I want to go back to college in September to do Level 3 in Engineering. I need this qualification before September.” (Jake)

“I need to achieve a higher English grade so that I can progress to University in September.” (Natalie)

“I already work as a social worker but need the Level 2 FS English qualification to secure my job in the sector. I need the qualification quickly as I am also going to University in September.” (Shandel)

The focus of this research project has been to investigate and evaluate whether NLCACL can successfully deliver a condensed version of the English Functional Skills curriculum, to allow specific learners to progress quickly onto their chosen next steps and meet their personal goals and aspirations.

Other Contextual Information

Our action research was part of the Education and Training Foundation’s OTLA 8 Programme, the action research taking place in the English department of our Adult Education section. We worked with two different cohorts of Level 2 learners to explore and evaluate the success of a 13-week, ‘Fast Track’ English Functional Skills curriculum. Because of the intensive nature of the programme and the time commitments expected of learners during the course, the first cohort of learners was selected by academic ability assessed through initial and diagnostic assessment.

On reflection, we identified that we needed to take a more holistic approach to the selection process and consider the learners’ motivation, time factors, commitments, IT skills and ability to learn independently. This was recognised when learners expected the tutor to be available at all hours. As part of our destination collection, one learner gave feedback

“You should have someone on hand throughout the week. As it is a fast track course it would be better to have someone available full time in case we have any questions.”


Networking with other AECL providers to research current methods of ‘Fast Track’ delivery:

  • Senior Lead Tutor set up networking meeting with seven other AECL providers, prior to undertaking project.
  • Research undertaken to investigate the varying ‘Fast Track’ models and to evaluate the most suitable.

Recruit learners for new course:

  • Create promotional material regarding new course type (see Appendix 2)

Ensure learners are appropriate candidates:

  • More robust initial and diagnostic assessment used
  • Step 1: ‘in house’ initial assessment to gauge rough level and assess personal commitment and motivations
  • Step 2: attend ‘Preparation for Online Learning’ workshop and complete more detailed and level specific ‘My Dynamic Learning’ initial assessment which generates percentage score.
  • Step 3: complete ‘My Dynamic Learning’ diagnostic assessment to identify existing knowledge and skills gaps (appendix 3)
  • Step 4: if learners score above 80% in initial assessment, then offer place on Fast Track course.
  • Step 5: Reflection and evaluation of the programme after the first cohort
  • Step 6: Revise the initial assessment process to include a more holistic approach

Decide on timings/ structure of course:

  • Previous networking revealed that the average length of a ‘Fast Track’ course was 13 weeks.
  • Decision to start with the reading unit first, as this knowledge needed to be secure before starting the next units. Six weeks were spent on this with a mock exam paper used as a summative assessment.
  • Speaking and listening was delivered second, for a total of two weeks including the assessment. This was because the tutor decided to run the assessments during the half-term break in October. Doing it this way allowed the learners to apply their reading skills orally before moving on to the writing unit.
  • Writing was delivered last, with a delivery time of 5 weeks. This was the final component of the course as the learners had to thoroughly understand and evaluate the varying reading techniques and skills, before beginning to apply them within their own writing.

Review and plan delivery of curriculum:

  • Originally, the speaking and listening component was due be delivered after the completion and achievement of the reading unit. However, this was brought forward into the middle of the reading unit, as learners felt confident completing this sooner.
  • Data collected from initial and diagnostic assessments was analysed to make informed decisions about how long to spend on each topic and which method of delivery was going to be used. This has now been evaluated and revised to include more holistic information. For the second cohort we have taken into consideration the learners’ overall commitment and motivation for completing the course in a short timeframe, as this will have an impact on their success.

Plan contingency for exam failures:

  • If learners failed exams, plans were put into place to provide a one-to-one tutorial-style delivery to provide personalised support in their areas for development.

Outcomes and Impact

As a result of the action research project for cohort 1:

  • 5 learners enrolled on the course
  • 100% of learners who took their exams passed (4 out of 5).
  • All learners passed the speaking and listening unit.
  • All learners passed the reading unit
  • 4 out of 5 passed the writing unit
  • 1 learner didn’t take the writing exam due to extenuating personal circumstances

Cohort 2 started in February 2022:

  • 7 learners enrolled on the course
  • All learners have passed the speaking and listening unit
  • All learners are making good progress and will take the reading exam on 26 May 2022 and have passed 2 practice papers
  • The writing exam is due to be completed by the end of June 2022

Although the intensity and length of the course cannot be directly linked to the success of the learners, they are now able to apply for their university courses and sustain employment and progress towards their goals and aspirations as a direct result of the Fast Track delivery model. For example, one of learners gave the following feedback:

“Completing the course has helped me gain the level of qualification that was required for the job that I want to do.”


Feedback from the tutor indicated that, due to learners’ personal and work commitments, the intensity of the course has meant that they retained knowledge and addressed misconceptions more effectively. Learners have given feedback, in their tutorials, that they would have struggled with this over a longer 36-week period.

This project has allowed our service to provide a more challenging, intensive and personalised programme to a specific group of learners which has never been done before, carefully considering and heavily weighting personal motivation and commitment to the course.

It has allowed both tutors and senior management to review the current delivery model to ensure that it is appropriate, challenging, and timely for learners to complete the relevant qualification. By completing this project, tutors have been able to review and evaluate the structure and sequencing of the Level 2 curriculum to ensure that no learner is held back in their progress towards achieving the qualification due to time constraints, e.g. waiting until the end of the academic year. Due to the success of the project, tutors are now discussing whether this delivery model can be replicated for level one English learners and also maths learners.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

As a result of undertaking this project, teaching, learning and assessment has been heavily reviewed. Historically, a Functional Skills level 2 course at North Lincolnshire AECL has been delivered over an average of 36 weeks in the academic year. The tutor delivering this new ‘Fast Track’ course has had to meticulously reflect upon, review and evaluate the structure and sequencing of the curriculum and teaching activities to ensure that it can be effectively condensed in to 13 weeks, carefully planning and scheduling assessments and relevant exams. As part of this process, the course delivery model will be extended to 17 weeks in the Autumn Term 2022. This will allow for more tutorial time, in response to learners’ feedback, such as:

“One to one tutorials were very helpful and more of these would be useful in the future.”


Furthermore, the tutor has reflected that speaking and listening assessments needed more tutor-led input to strengthen these skills for learners to be more competent. Another key factor that has led to lengthening the fast-track model is because the first cohort were required to attend their assessments out of term time, which caused issues for some learners around childcare, and tutor workload.

Due to such an intensive programme, teaching, learning and assessment has become more rapidly responsive to learners’ gaps in knowledge and emerging needs (see Appendix 3.1). This was to ensure that misconceptions or misunderstandings can be swiftly dealt with and support mechanisms put into place effectively by the tutor in a very short time frame. The data collected at the initial and diagnostic assessment processes was key when prioritising certain learning outcomes and skills areas. It was appropriate for some learning outcomes to be omitted from face-to-face teaching activities and substituted with online learning using our chosen platform: learners had already shown strong skills within these areas, only needing a knowledge recap on their understanding. Using this platform allowed the tutor to provided differentiated resources according to learners’ abilities. After further reflection from the tutor, a new self-study area will be added to Google Classroom. This will provide learners with a wider range of learning resources for each topic that will lead to more opportunities for independent study, for example, You Tube links, websites, example banks, bite-size tutor instructional videos etc.

In addition to the above, tutors are currently working on creating a discussion board for each topic to promote learners to discuss their dilemmas with peers. The expected impact of this will be to enable learners to seek peer as well as tutor support. This will also help develop study skills to support their future progress and personal goals.

Similarly, the tutor had to carefully plan and appropriately schedule key assessments to ensure that learners’ understanding, knowledge and long-term retention was evident, throughout the three main components. The completion of such assessments allowed the tutor to tailor and adapt her teaching activities accordingly, to ensure learners were fully prepared and ready to complete their exams. It was crucial that the tutor knew her learners and their abilities well so that she could support and challenge each learner individually. Additional time was given to the tutor delivering this course to ensure that all learner work could be marked promptly and teaching activities adapted within a very small time frame, as at least double the amount of topics and learning outcomes were delivered each week compared to a ‘normal’ Functional Skills Level 2 course.

Organisational Development

Working practices were developed within the English subject area due to the large-scale review and evaluation of the curriculum that was undertaken. Regular meetings were crucial to review and evaluate the progression of learners and to problem-solve any arising issues promptly. As a result, the project lead had a close oversight of how the project and the learners were progressing. Learners were heavily involved in ongoing course evaluation as the tutor regularly collated learner voice to evaluate the delivery of the course. Learners knew that they were the first cohort of Fast Track learners and, therefore, an open and reflective culture was created by the tutor to encourage their reliable and valid feedback.

Learning from this project

Our main learning point has been that we, as a service, are able to provide a successful offer to a particular group of learners. Previously, a very traditional approach was taken towards delivering Functional Skills English. However, we now have confidence in our ability to provide a differentiated offer, more responsive to the needs of our learners.

After evaluating the availability of a second cohort for the project, it became evident that six out of seven learners could attend as one group on an evening. The seventh learner, who was of very high ability, has a young child and could only attend in the day. For this reason, we chose to create a more holistic approach. We are now delivering one fast-track class in an evening, and a tutorial-based session during the daytime for the other learner. This tutorial-based method of delivery will facilitate a flexible roll-on, roll-off programme.

(For further learning and reflection on adaptations in teaching and learning approaches, and marketing see Appendix 7)

Professional Development

Using the ETF’s Professional Standards for teachers and trainers. Please note, this report refers to the 2014-2022 standards.

  • 15. Promote the benefits of technology and support learners in its use.

    Both learners and tutor have relied heavily on the online learning platform to support activities. An informed decision was made by the tutor to omit some topics from face-to-face teaching and substitute these with the online learning platform which has played a large role in progression and achievement. However, feedback from learners has led to further evaluation and therefore tutors are exploring other online options to support self-study.

  • 17. Enable learners to share responsibility for their own learning and assessment, setting goals that stretch and challenge.

    More emphasis has been placed on learner’s personal motivation, commitment, and responsibility for their own learning. A proactive culture has been created whereby learners have taken this responsibility very seriously to ensure that they are progressing well towards achievement.

  • 18. Apply appropriate and fair methods of assessment and provide constructive and timely feedback to support progression and achievement.

    Our project has allowed us to review and evaluate the most appropriate and fair methods of assessment for such an intensive course. The tutor has had to provide timely and highly effective feedback to support learner progression and achievement due to the shorter, more intense timescale of the course.