Opportunities for FE English and maths
An event for practitioners and leaders of English and maths in Further Education to come together, collaborate and share best practice
On the 16th July, I was part of Opportunities for FE English and maths – an event for practitioners and leaders of English and maths in Further Education to come together, collaborate and share best practice . We titled the event as ‘Opportunities’ and our choice of language was key: we wanted to celebrate the opportunity that is the next academic year for FE English and maths practitioners.
Every year is a new opportunity, with new cohorts, but this year we are hoping for a return to business as usual, without TAGs, CAGs and isolations and lockdowns. Timing the event before the summer break, we hoped to inspire the planning that happens when we are supposed to be off and resting. We truly believe that there are opportunities in FE English and maths; opportunities for us all to learn from others and enhance our practice. The choice of the hashtag was also important to us: we wanted to connect FE maths and English, and FE as a whole, bringing as many people together as we could to learn together.
The event was an enormous success, and we had over 200 FE educators sign up to the event (and less than a month after the day we sit at over 470 views of the event on YouTube with over 1300 interactions
with the website from the day). This blew me away! More importantly, it shows the need and appetite for the specific focus of FE when talking English and maths. It also shows the need to have the mix; the mix of subject specific and genuine personal professional development aspects. All too often, I am invited to
subject specific CPD from exam boards or experts, but this time comes at the cost of my own professional development and the opportunity to be exposed to see the vocational elements which impact English and maths in FE . Alternatively, I am invited to attend brilliant CPD on, for example, coaching, but there isn’t a subject specific or contextually blended element, so I am often left to apply what I have learnt to my own subject area, without relevant resources to support this.. Opportunities for FE English and maths brought together all that was missing from some of this previous training.
All the resources from the day are at cutt.ly/FEmathsEng, with time stamped links to each section.
The mix includes renowned consultant Dr Lou Mycroft, with an introduction to coaching and using Ikigai to prioritise tasks. We also had English teacher and expert Hollie Barnes with top tips for Functional Skills English and FE leader and author Jonny Kay with behaviour and high impact ideas for English in FE. With EdTech a key priority in the last 18 months, I also led sessions on how to successfully engage learners in remote learning and best practice in maths. The mix also included our sponsors, who made the day possible. These included the latest data tracking resources (Pupil Progress), revision resources (GCSE Pod) and awarding body support (NCFE).
The mix was important and still is. This snippet from the YouTube chat summed it up with thanks from Michelle:
The mix was important with our use of media, too. We wanted to show that, in a brave new world of remote learning and collaboration,, we didn’t need to be in the same room, or even geographically close to one another.. We wanted to connect as many FE educators across the sector. The media mix meant that we would do this via YouTube, present a range of sessions and also, most importantly, have an active dialogue with those who attended. The brilliant Hollie was ‘on buttons’ all day with the chat, keeping everyone engaged and this also meant, when Lou Mycroft did delivered herher Ikigai session, those watching could engage and collaborate via the live chat .
The mix of the live video followed by the website meant that the mix extends to asynchronous and synchronous. We were overjoyed to be notified that several colleges shared the event, and associated resources, in the days and weeks after we presented and we have seen the resulting increase in views following this.
Of course, for a variety of reasons, sometimes ‘live’ isn’t best for everyone, And the ability to dip in and out of the session (and watch recordings at a later time) ensure our event was accessible and inclusive.
The mix meant that non-English and maths teachers attended too, and those who wanted to embed English and maths into their own subjects had a range of resources and approaches targeted towards them, including Jonny’s top behaviour tips.
Reflecting on Michelle’s comments above, the mix meant that English teachers were able to collaborate and learn from maths teachers, and vice versa. Hollie and I, on our podcast, often talk about how we are ‘lumped together’ as one and the same, but our subjects are very different. And yet, learning more about each other helps us develop not only our understanding of each others’ subject, but helps to empathise and identify common ground when rallying the troops around FE English and maths .
As we evaluate and look to the future, we hope that you find something that speaks to you from the event and we have already been asked to look at hosting another event , and, should things allow, we plan to.
As an FE community, we all have lots to say about sharing our practice andhe blogs on PDN are evidence of this. Events like Opportunities for FE English and maths give us another space to share, because we are all better together.
FE Middle Leader, English teacher, grafter, dad, husband, music lover, writer. Not necessarily in that order.