Improving one of the top sixth form colleges in the country cannot be easy, but John Leggott College has been given a grant to do just that.
This year JLC is engaged in a new government project, aiming to increase skills and professional development within the education sector. The Further Education Professional Development Grant (FEPDG) will allow JLC to adapt their outstanding teaching standards to our changing times, giving teachers the chance to develop their skills and subsequently enhance student learning for years to come.
Collaborating in the Advance Colleges Trust, JLC teachers will work in groups over 2021/2022, sharing skills and new teaching methods. The government project will allow teachers to collaborate in teams with “peer-to-peer support” (Department of Education, 2021), led by instructional coaches and feed back to Professional Working Groups. Teachers will share skills and knowledge of pedagogical techniques that are best suited to our students in our times, combining new technology and in-person learning to give students the most rounded education. By continually reassessing student progression rates, teachers at JLC will be working to fill gaps in lost learning and find the most effective ways to teach students throughout the project.
The start of the exciting new development for JLC will “provide higher level technical skills” for staff and students, “stimulating improvements in the standard of teaching” (DofE, 2021) by increasing the opportunities for professional development.
After a year of disrupted teaching, students will benefit from a hybrid approach to education, combining new technology and in-person delivery. “Supporting education recovery” (DofE, 2021) is vital, as a second year student said that her “learning has been disrupted due to COVID and various lockdowns”. While “online lessons were a great solution at the time and we covered a lot of content, I find it harder to recall the information I learnt online than I do in the classroom.” Now, with adapted technology, online learning is “integrated into lessons” with “lesson recordings and all of the resources in one place”, giving students the benefits of online and in-person teaching.
JLC teachers will work on a personal basis with instructional coaches to evaluate how successful teaching is with students, following recent research on the best approaches. Tailoring learning to specific students and subjects, our progressive college will be further on the way to blending learning after the challenges of the past year. Students will benefit from increased “confidence to use technology effectively in education” as teachers “improve subject knowledge and pedagogy” (DofE, 2021). Adapting teaching to the new normal will certainly help students to gain skills and widen their opportunities as they emerge into a transformed world and jobs sector.
Jamie Watkinson, Leader of Teaching and Learning at JLC, said that teachers will work in “specific teams to support them to reflect on their practice, and work towards utilising the most current research when any areas for development arise.” Crucially, “the core of the project is maximising the impact on teaching and learning on student progress.” One staff member who will be sharing the new skills available to JLC is Jasmine Fletcher-Holmes, a Humanities teacher, who will be feeding back to a Professional Working Group. She said “I’m really excited to start the training and see how other colleges are addressing learning in their department, as with only being a small department ourselves, it will be good to explore different ideas that can then be shared and trialled in our own classrooms. I am hoping that undertaking this will really improve best practice and establish connections with other providers that will only further enhance our student experience.”
There is an exciting future for prospective students at JLC, who can expect a top-class standard of teaching in an area of high aspirations. JLC’s reputation for excellence and high quality teaching is set to improve in years to come, thanks to the FEPDG funding. The prospect of increased skills and job opportunities confirm the fact that JLC really is the place to be.
By Chloe Smith, Journalism Intern.
Department of Education (2021) Further Education Professional Development Grants. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/further-education-professional-development-grants-pilot