For our spring term the ETF Professional Exchange Network was combined with ACER’s English Teaching and Learning Network for a full day event that attracted 25 members. The afternoon focussed on digital technology in detail but the morning session also contained some excellent examples of the creative use of different tools and websites to create resources and engage learners on GCSE English programmes.
The morning session began with a presentation by Ofqual colleagues, Simon Perks and Nic Wroe about their role in consulting with the sector to determine stakeholders’ views on the regulatory aspects of reformed Functional Skills qualifications that would be introduced in 2019. Simon and Nic were keen to hear members’ views on topics such as assessment design, the comparability of qualifications offer by Awarding Organisations and the kind of transitional arrangements tutors would like when the new FS quals are introduced in 2019. In the group discussion members noted that –
- they were keen to have more feedback from AOs about learner performance
- the contexts chosen in question papers were not appropriate to learners’ age, life experience and cultural background
- most practitioners would welcome a pass/merit/distinction grading option
- there were important differences between AOs in the time allocated to each paper
- a quick ‘turn around’ in terms of test results was always a priority, especially on short courses in the workplace and in armed services
After the morning break Jo Loss gave a stimulating presentation about her experiences in managing and teaching the new GCSE English specification since September. Jo combined some thoughtful reflections of the advantages and challenges of the new qualification with some excellent examples of resources and teaching strategies that she had used.
Early in the autumn term tutors and learners had created a timeline together either as a wall display or in a digital format that they then updated with links to the different types of text from 19th century they covered as the term progressed. Jo felt that this had helped to present and review 19th ct texts in a cumulative and coherent way that strengthened learners’ of ten fragile grasp ion the cultural trends and historical events of the period.
Jo went on to share a wide range of interesting teaching strategies and resources. She set up a small group activity for members that involved them in using the acronym ‘Row of Clones’ to identify key elements in a text analysis task.
Jo also demonstrated how she had used an image on a Padlet board as a stimulus for a group vocabulary activity.
At several points Jo explained that she had really valued all the excellent teaching resources that she had discovered through following a group of GCSE English teachers on Twitter #teamenglish and she particularly recommended the blog maintained by one of the most active members, Fiona Ritson.
As a source of ideas for quick and easy discussion activities Jo recommended the Thunks website and at the end of the session Jo gave us a link to Padlet board that she had set up for the Network which contained many of the resources that she had used this year.