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The needs of Learners in Education and Training Essay

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According to The Excellence Gateway (accessed 12/7/14) “initial assessment and diagnostic assessment is needed for each learner in order to find a starting point, or baseline for learning. It makes possible development of the learning plan”. Initial assessment and diagnostic tools can serve two purposes, firstly to assess potential students’ academic ability in relation to national standards. This will then dictate support required for targets and progression. Secondly initial and diagnostic assessments can be used for higher level qualifications where there are pre-requisites to ensure that the standard is up to the required level for that course. Organisations also need to ensure that they understand not only the student’s educational needs through in-depth diagnostic tests for literacy and numeracy skills levels but their social, emotional and behavioural needs as well through the initial assessments. In this way organisations can ensure that they understand how to support their students in their learning journey. Within Nacro potential students are firstly interviewed, personal details are taken and risk assessments are carried out.

Once the student is placed in their chosen vocational area they will meet with the functional skills tutor. Students will then be assessed on their maths, English and ICT skills through the ForSkills online programme. The outcome of this is a generated breakdown of their achievement in each area of maths, English and ICT. Areas which require improvement are focused on, in regular functional skills sessions. The benefits are that specific information is provided about each student’s ability and then through formative and summative assessment realistic goals can be achieved. ForSkills outcomes can also be cross referenced with vocational work so support can be given in the most comprehensive way. ForSkills does not however consider other skills the student may have and because the initial assessments are summative assessment this could intimidate the student and in particular at Nacro most students have had previous negative experiences with education.

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This is something Nacro want to avoid. Two students will be used as case studies. One student, Helen Grey was an alternative education student who disengaged from main stream education at the beginning of her final compulsory year. This student has now re-engaged with education at Nacro. Using historical and current details as well as the ForSkills results, Helen will be registered on Level 1 Animal Care. Although Helen is very academically capable and is very intelligent, to reintegrate her back into full time vocation, it was felt most appropriate to start at level 1 so that she can see a clear progression pathway.

The second Student is Sam McIntyre who is almost 20 years old and has been NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) since leaving school at 16. Sam had impeccable attendance at school but found most of the work difficult and did not achieve. Sam will be registered on the Level 1 Developing skills for employment which will include vocational tasters in Animal Care. Helen’s target is to complete her functional skills and Animal Care level 1 and Sam’s target is to complete her functional skills and to gain a qualification in employability skill with a longer term goal to progress into a placement, apprenticeship or employment. B

Please see attachments – a copy of Helen and Sam’s initial assessment and also their Individual Learning Plans (ILP)

Please see attachment of Scheme of work, Lesson Plan and Group profile which all correspond to one another with regard to covering the qualification criteria and the needs of each individual learner. Both Helen and Sam are included in the group profile and specific support has been identified in the lesson plan.


According to L.Trotter (2013) “What is delivered in the classroom is constantly evolving and it is essential that the teacher evolves with it. By maintaining the highest levels possible of tracking and assessing individual’s requirements one can modify their performance accordingly.” Always being committed to professional development and awareness you will be well informed of the client group and the complimenting learning activities. By knowing your audience you can include elements in lessons and activities which compliment the learning styles. Having a class profile which outlines individual issues but equally as important ways in which to overcome those issues, will make lesson planning much easier as you can use the learning styles and learning boundaries to mould your sessions.

For more skilled/experienced students I would set a task which would keep them engaged but would be nearby if any problems arose. For less skilled/new students I would have prepared a differentiated activity, maybe give one to one tutoring and keep reassuring them at all times. Also the students who are less familiar with the work are sometimes helped by their peers, which gives those students a sense of achievement in helping their fellow students. A good tutor is one who has time, listens to any problems, answers questions and tries not to make students feel uncomfortable in anyway (Petty 2004). A tutor should know their students and their abilities and plan sessions accordingly. Through personal practice I have demonstrated by using different strategies for individual students’s needs and have set plans accordingly. All students have different learning styles and any previous experience can be an advantage but for new learners they will often benefit from going back to basics.

Throughout the course I do a lot of refresher lessons which enables the students to remember the tasks they have already done and helps to keep their minds active and focused on their work. Although differentiation plays a big part in inclusive learning, the most productive learning happens when students are involved in deciding how their own learning happens. Within each taught session at Nacro the trainer/teacher includes a section for students to complete, where feedback can be provided. The feedback can also be in the form of a general discussion or a question and answer to see if they had understood the session. Also the use of the reflective diary on learner/passport gives a chance to seek out their strengths and weakness and it’s a good check on their progression throughout the course.

Bimonthly reviews are carried out where questions are asked about the student’s welfare and experience within Nacro and their vocational area. The review also contains personal targets which are agreed between the learner and the tutor. The following review corresponds to the targets set in the last review to see if the targets have been achieved and sets mini targets for the next 2 weeks. Students are always welcomed to discuss any problems they are having and Nacro or outside of Nacro. Nacro has designated safeguarding officers so any relevant issues can be recorded and investigated further. The students needs can be great and a tutor must be aware at all times of any issues they may have and any support from either fellow tutors or outside professionals which could help them.

Referring to the Scheme of work and lesson plan for session 2. I took the units 106 and 107 – Theory and Practical of Moving and Handling Animals and devised a scheme of work. The scheme of work was based on sections within the unit and knowledge of the trainer as to how much the group could cover in one session. This unit was broken down into seven sessions and each session include a broad aim, reference to standards, resources and learning outcomes with specific reference to minimum core, E & D, safeguarding and employability. The group profile identifies which students have already achieved maths and English but through direct questioning students who are still working towards these can be supported and challenged in sessions.

Each session is then broken down further into lesson plans, which demonstrates the finer elements of the session. According to Wisegeek.org “In most cases a normal attention span for adults is approximately 15 to 20 minute,” considering this the session includes many varying activities to retain the attention of the students but which directly filters into minimum core aspects. Students are always encouraged to participate in group discussions, answer questions, take notes and depending on the session maths and ICT can be included. As an animal care trainer my main aim is to cover the assessment criteria but each step I consider four elements which are

Minimum core
Equality and Diversity

Using my scheme of work and lesson plan this is clearly demonstrated. By doing this it keeps the session varied, interesting and inclusive for learning and progression. According to Marshall (2006) there are some skills that we all need to learn to function properly and be able to do a job of work. We all need basic skills I communication and so need to learn to speak, read and write. We also all need some level of basic skill when using numbers. Teachers and trainers can demonstrate the importance of basic skills by showing how they can be used in their specialised area, and by giving their learners plenty of practice in using these skills.

Nacro as an organisation requires staff to complete a 6month probationary period and within this time staff are observed whilst teaching. I asked my immediate colleagues to observe me prior to my formal observation. 1 -My manager Julia Tailford observed me first. Feedback was provided verbally 2 -My colleague Sheila Dillon then observed me, for feedback see attachment 3 – My formal observation then took place by Robert Furniss who is a senior training manager and qualified OTLA assessor. Robert’s feedback is also included see attachment Each subsequent session helped to relax me an increased my awareness and confidence. With each piece of feedback my practical and theoretical skills improved. My formal session I provided the following documentation register, group profile, Scheme of Work, Lesson plan and the handout for the session.

Using Robert’s feedback I looked at my paperwork and changed areas which Robert identified as requiring improvement. The paperwork that I used for my CET observation included the improved elements and I feel this really helped with the positive feedback I received. Overall I feel I am an empathetic and sensitive teacher/trainer. I feel I have tried very hard to get to know my students on paper but also on face value so that I can understand as much about them as possible. I have created my own group profiles by extracting relevant information from each student’s individual records but also through my own formative assessment and the dynamics of my relationship with the individuals and the group.

I have included my perception of that student and how I plan to support them. I have used all of this information and cross referenced it with the learning activities. This means I have created my sessions around the abilities of my students and I am committed to change my approach to support the individual needs and the group dynamic. I am new to teaching and training and feel my inexperience can hinder my ability and knowledge at times but I am willing to learn and I am open minded to advice and support. I am also committed to professional development and will actively engage with corporate training, peer support and input from external providers to ensure I am giving my students the best opportunities, the most topical information and the best training.

Bibliographical Reference list
The excellence Gateway – Initial and Diagnostic assessment (2012) http://archive.excellencegateway.org.uk/page.aspx?o=100292 – accessed 12/7/14 Trotter. L, (2013) Lynnxtrotter –Teaching Experience http://lynnxtrotter.wordpress.com/ accessed 20/7/14 Geoff Petty (2009) Teaching today: A practical Guide: Nelson Thornes Wisegeek website (2014) http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-considered-a-normal-attention-span.htm – accessed on 18/7/14 Ben Marshall (2006) Preparing to Teach in the lifelong Learning Sector: BTEC Level 3, Edexcel M. Waldron (2013) CTLLS Unit 12 – Planning to Meet the Needs of Learners http://michellewaldron43.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/analyse-role-of-initial-and-diagnostic.html accessed 18/7/14

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