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Your expertise needed! Barriers to progression: Level2/3 qualifications and BTEC failure ? help!

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by englishtt06, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    Dear TESers

    I am trying to put together a proposal for post-16 (to study barriers to learning). I am quite comfortable working with AS and A2 courses as have managed and delivered them for some years. Being an English teacher, I have little experience of BTEC/vocational courses and their delivery. I am curious to know what issues learners face and how it is possible to fail/withdraw from their chosen courses. Is it for similar reasons as AS/A2 (poorly chosen courses, difficult home/family circumstances, lack of organisation/attendance etc.)? I guess I am assuming that BTECs/NVQs may come with their own issues which are a part of the way the course is structured (all coursework). Any ideas/wisdom gratefully received. If you have any solutions that you know work, then that would be fab too! Am happy to share what I have so far….

    Thanks in advance English TT
  2. Hi

    The answer to your question, in my 15 years of post- 16- Sixth Form Colleges and FE is yes- same barriers BUT also I find that because some students trot along to sign up for A Levels, cannot because they have done BTEC'S and not GCSE's, they actually get bored with content on BTEC AND also some students find the relentless assignments for BTEC tricky- they would prefer an exam. I think 16 year olds are 16 year olds- the BTEC and AS/A2 divide is outweighed.....also travel distance is not to be underestimated and the fact the National Curriculum is 'spoon fed' to some until GCSE and subsequently the workload at AS level is very heavy..... The most important things are correct enrolment choices and one adult that a student can relate to-= could be Learning Support/Tutor/Teacher- they can 'rescue' a student and help them persevere....I do htink perseverance ought to be taught skill.....ie finish the year and then see rather than drop out when the going gets tough in March...whenever- good luck!
  3. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    Thanks - that is very useful! I like the idea of having an adult that the student can relate to - very interesting. Also, hadn't considered that BTECs at KS4 may limit post-16 choices. Thanks again - really appreciated.
  4. In my experience it is almost impossible for students to withdraw from their course/s after the initial 4 week settling in period. Loss of funding is the driving force in many FE settings and this has forced many a young person to continue with a course that they don't really want to do.

    The most significant barrier to learning that I have experienced is lack of motivation combined with lack of skills in independent learning. Quite simply put, they are ill-equipped to be able to study their Level 3 quals in the way that we'd expect. In part this has been due to students being dyslexic but undiagnosed which, of course, has meant that they've struggled throughout mainstream ed and have very low self-esteem as a result.

    Absolutely. It really doesn't suit everybody. It takes a well-organised and focused student to study a BTEC effectively, imo. I think my team and I spent a good chunk of our 'free' (!) periods working with students to plan their study and set targets etc. Almost every May and June was spent in intervention with students simply trying to get them to do their outstanding work. Sadly, we didn't get any support from management during the rest of the year which meant that students who should have been booted out weren't.
  5. I would certainly agree with that - plus unrealistic expectations of what college life is like. Many youngsters come thinking it will be nothing like school and yes, there is no uniform and they call us by out first names but it comes as a shock to find they are as closely 'managed' as they were before (this applies especially to Levels 1 and 2). They seem to think it is all going to be very casual and when they find that

    the workload is intensive and they are expected to take charge of their own learning they just can't do it. This in spite of ILPs and strategy after strategy put into place for them.

    Level 3s do have more freedom but don't know how to use it. They don't use their free time to crack on with assignments or do research and it is always a headache to get work in on time from them. Of course, we give them extension after extension as the little dears cannot fail and the notion of equipping them for the real world becomes a mockery.
  6. Well said Cosmos :)
  7. Oh, there was so much more to say poeme but I didn't want to overwhelm the OP :)
  8. lol! I can imagine some of the things you *could* write if you were ever to launch into a major rant ;-)
  9. After a retirement of two years, I have recently done some cover work with level 1s ( which was a salutary reminder of just why I chose a moneyless early retirement).

    Of course, at that level you don't get the highly motivated youngsters, but the lack of commitment and resistance to any form of learning was appalling.

    My task on one day was to go through their workbooks with them to check everything had been done prior to IVing.....hah! Some hadn't done any work at all! I asked why and three of them said - 'don't need that sh it , I'm gonna work for me dad'. What do you do with that attitude?

    Actually, it was a good day - they were so awful I gave up the notion of doing anything with them and got out my sudoku and told them to get on with texting their mates. One said ' 'ere, you're supposed to be teaching us!' I said 'no, can't be bothered, I get paid no matter what you lot do and I'm walking out of here at 4.30, why should I care if you pass or not'.....they were so shocked, they shut up and I managed to get all but the hard core to complete :))
  10. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    This is all very useful info and wisdom, and I will make note of all your points. I hear you on the stress of teaching the uninterested and unmanageable; and I don't mind being overwhelmed by all your ideas/thoughts - the more detailed, the better. I have always been curious about more 'vocational' pathways and how they run day-to-day. Some of my tutor group are BTECers and there does seem to be a scramble to get things done at this time of year; and lots of extensions!
  11. I've been teaching BTECs for long enough to remember when we were allowed to actually penalise students for late submissions (Pass grade only even if it met the Merit/Distinction criteria) and when students could come out with a 1 (or 2) A level equivalent qual rather than the 3 because they hadn't completed enough work.

    BTEC teaching in some colleges is farcical due to the ever extending extensions etc. It needs to come into line with A levels if they are to be truly judged as equivalent. IMO.
  12. Oh I remember that too poeme and it really concentrated the students' minds! Latterly though, I found that many students don't even try for merit/distinction grades - 'nah, a pass is all I need'.....and this on level 3 courses so no incentive at all to pull their fingers out.

    And even then they struggle/can't be bothered to hand work in on time and of a decent standard. The attitude of many is just hand it in and if it's rubbish they know they'll get plenty of time to re-do it.

    I don't entirely blame the students - colleges can no longer afford to take a tough stance - students must pass at any cost otherwise bang goes funding.....

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