Sunderland College is celebrating a successful first year of being part of the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence pilot.
Launched in February 2020 and the first of its kind in the UK, the Centre of Excellence is delivered in partnership with leading education services provider NCFE whose expertise in curriculum development aims to mainstream excellence in skills development.
The College was selected to be part of the three-year pilot to develop world-class educators who will in turn inspire young people from all backgrounds to take up apprenticeships and technical vocational education as a route to success.
Staff from key curriculum areas including Construction, Digital, Engineering, Hair and Barbering, and Catering and Hospitality were coached and mentored by Jenna Wrathall Bailey MBE though a professional workforce programme.
Modules included psychology workshops which looked at resilience training, positive mindsets, excellence vs perfection, as well as how to use pressure tests and Lean Principles to motivate learners, improve their time management in assessments, identify areas to improve and prepare them for the real world and world of work.
Students have excelled in their studies, raising their levels of achievement with several winning prestigious national skills competitions.
Richard Vart, Hospitality and Catering Lecturer, said: “I was excited to learn new skills and be part of the pilot. I’ve enjoyed working with practitioners from other curriculum areas, learning from them and sharing best practices.
“It has helped me look at how I structure my lessons and break down harder skills for lower-level learners to achieve higher grades, improve their planning and organisational skills which helps them prepare for assessments.”
Jim Stobbart, Construction and Building Services Lecturer, added: “My first thoughts on the Centre of Excellence is that it will really help my students reach the next level in competitions but also raise the standards of every learner I teach.
“My teaching style has changed as I approach things differently and I’m always thinking of new ways to teach my practical lessons and better involve students at all levels. My learners have benefitted from me being on the programme and I would recommend the pilot to anyone.”
Sharon Smith, Barbering Lecturer, said: “At first I thought the WorldSkills Centre of Excellence pilot would only be about competitions, but it has helped me adapt the way I mark assessments. I’ve enjoyed the pilot so far and can’t wait to implement everything with my new cohort in September.”
Engineering Lecturer, Christopher Lindridge, added: “One of the most enjoyable parts of being involved in the pilot is the opportunity to liaise and work with other staff members who I would not normally be in contact with and get an insight into their approaches and how I can use these in my own practices.
“Having completed the resilience and mindset training I feel more comfortable discussing how my learners can turn negatives into positives and realise how their mental approach can have an impact on their performance.”
NextGen Lecturer, Matt Hall, said: “It has been a really enjoyable experience that has allowed me to reflect on my teaching practices with my peers which is incredibly valuable.
“I have developed lots of ideas for next year such as including pressure tests to prepare my learners, how to better guide them through their course and support them through their everyday challenges by promoting a positive mindset.
The WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence an exclusive continuous professional development (CPD) programme which will be delivered to over 40 institutions and 200+ educators by August 2023.
Sunderland College became just one of 20 colleges to undertake the innovative pilot last year, which aims to ensure young people receive the best technical vocational training possible and help businesses access the talented workforce they need to rebuild after Covid-19.
Judith Quinn, Vice Principal for Curriculum and Achievement, said: “We wanted to be part of the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence pilot to mainstream excellence within all our technical curriculum, linked to our College vision, all to make a real difference to all our students.
“It has helped develop our teachers’ subject knowledge further, bringing additional relevance and refinement to their teaching. They have increased their confidence to innovate and take ownership of their own professional development to raise the career and life aspirations of our young people further.”
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