Wearing Masks – the new normal
It was clear in the network events that for a number of providers, wearing of masks in the classroom has become the new normal. This caused concern for many that this may have a negative effect on performance in Speaking, Listening and Communicating assessments. With this in mind I spoke with Phil O’Dea the Senior Standards Verifier for Speaking, Listening and Communicating in Pearson;
’Mask wearing probably isn't a massive obstacle to meeting the criteria as long as learners are used to doing this. Talking with masks on is something that most of us are getting used to, whether that's at the supermarket, or at work.‘
Our advice would be for learners to do practice activities wearing masks so that they're used to communicating like this and that they should be assessed with people they know to make the experience as 'normal' as possible. If it's helpful, learners could do things like raising their hand when they want to speak to replace the kind of non-verbal cues you give out facially. The alternative would be for the discussion to have a Chair (which is good practice anyway) to make sure everyone gets the chance to speak. If wearing a mask has a slight impact on clarity then we'd make allowances for that, but we don't think that should be too much of a factor.
The final point we would identify is the importance of learners introducing themselves and wearing name badges for identification, if activities are being videoed. This is something centres should be doing anyway.
Adaptations to Functional Skills
Our discussions around the adaptations Pearson has in place for Functional Skills Assessments was lively and shows how much we are trying to do to support our centres. A full list of relevant documents (which is frequently being added to) is available on our Functional Skills COVID-19 support page. For any further support and information, please get in touch. We can make adaptations on an individual basis if necessary, as we understand your situation.
Teaching and Learning
Discussions around teaching and learning focused on the continuation of distance learning and how people felt that has affected learners and potential success rates. The majority of FE centres were concerned that their success rates might drop based on their issues and we did spend some time discussing how we can ensure learners are engaged. At least one person was certain the learners were multi-tasking in their lessons (Xbox). One good thing that came out, was new information (for me at least) in the use of mini interactive whiteboards by the teacher (Wacom, others are available) which makes the showing of working out for maths far easier to display.
As always at Network Events, there was discussion around success rates and what they mean, especially as there was a consensus among FE centres that the current COVID-19 situation means they are expecting success rates to decrease further. The success rates for 2019-20 do need to be taken with a pinch of salt as the lockdown meant many learners were not able to access a test at all. With this in mind we have full year results including Centre Assessed Grades and just for test only.
Further Education Colleges | With CAGs | 2019/20
Finally, I just wanted to take a moment to look at the feedback all the FS events since September. These events really are only as good as the delegates and these sessions have been among my favourite ones. Hopefully, I will be able to visit you all in 2021.
How satisfied were you with the event overall?
- There was a 100% satisfaction level from those that responded. 50% said they were satisfied, 50% were very satisfied.
How satisfied were you with the event content?
- There was a 100% satisfaction level from those that responded. 47% said they were satisfied, 53% were very satisfied.
How satisfied were you with the event trainer?
- There was a 100% satisfaction level from those that responded. 33% said they were satisfied, 67% were very satisfied.
- It was as interactive as possible for an online event.
- Delivery at the right pace.
- There was extra info not on the slides from someone who has taught the course.
- How informative the trainer was regarding everything.
- The trainer’s willingness to answer questions.
- The trainer’s humour.
- The trainer understood the WBL sector, was realistic and asked our opinion on going forward.
Chris Briggs, Sector Manager Post-16 English and Maths