When Barry-John Silver took over as Head of Faculty for Information Technology at the Priory School, Southsea, he wanted to improve on the school's Computer Science results and offer his students a course that better suited their interests and aspirations.
Opportunities for students to progress to either Higher Education or directly to employment was at the top of Barry-John and his team's list of requirements for a new qualification.
The school found a match for their needs in the BTEC Tech Award in Digital Information Technology (DIT). Not only did the subject matter align with the students' interests, but the course also aimed to provide them with work-ready skills for the IT industry.
While studying DIT, students found that the assessment process gave them an opportunity to demonstrate the practical application of the skills they’d picked up during the course. The external assessment gives learners the chance to demonstrate practical skills that match the kinds of tasks they need to compete in the real world.
According to Barry-John, the qualification works well as part of a broader curriculum. The range of applicable skills benefit students in future learning and also puts them in a strong position in the workplace. They get to begin building technical levels of skills that can be improved upon with further training, or, develop the necessary skills employers are seeking in an increasingly digital career landscape.
Broadening the Curriculum
Barry-John introduced DIT for students looking for an alternative pathway to traditionally academic GCSE qualifications in Computer Science. This provided a diverse range of students with different learning styles a choice of qualifications to study.
The school offers other GCSE and BTEC options for various subjects in order to provide as broad and balanced curriculum as possible.
"The subject matter better aligned to the skills the majority of our students may use in the workplace."
During the early months of delivering DIT Barry found that it had already encouraged more independent research and group work among students.
Despite the school having extensive experience in delivering a range of BTECs they were aware that DIT was a relatively new qualification. However, Barry-John’s department found the free training events and course materials helped them understand the syllabus of the new Tech Award format.
As a member of the senior leadership team, Barry-John believes the BTEC approach provides a valuable pathway for students who wish to be able to demonstrate their practical ability as well as theoretical understanding, both for those who are academically driven and also those who find purely academic theory to be challenging or unsuitable to their way of learning.