The conference was held within the opulent grounds of Worcester College, Oxford and included keynotes, presentations and workshops covering a range of areas of direct relevance to ongoing work at Kingston to improve the student experience and employability of non traditional entrants. This is particularly pertinent in view of our Widening Participation Strategic Assessment, recently submitted to HEFCE, which, through setting targets, gives further impetus to our work with local schools, colleges and employers to address the needs and expectations of a diverse student cohort throughout their time at Kingston and beyond.
Kingston was well represented. Jane Gay, Nigel Atkins and Steve May presented “Meeting the employability agenda through an alternative 3rd year module: ‘maths in the classroom’” which explored the development of an alternative 3rd year module, that aims, by giving an opportunity for students to gain firsthand experience of teaching through a mentoring scheme with mathematics teachers in local schools, to provide them with insights into the work of a teacher. The findings clearly indicate that both specific and generic employability skills can be embedded in the curriculum. Penelope Bidgood and Nasrollah Saebi presented “A statistical analysis of factors affecting success in NVQs” which showed that, in addition to student centred factors such as gender and ethnicity, there are considerable differences in the success rate and popularity of different subjects. Both were well received by UK and international colleagues.
The keynote speakers explored some of the underlying issues including “Refocusing politics in education and work” and “Globalisation, corporate strategies and the future of national skill formation”. Other presentations of particular interest included “increasing participation in apprenticeships: What works and why?”, “Pathways to vocational education and training? Engaging adult learners and assessing learner outcomes”, and “Managing learner expectations of e-assessment in vocational education and training”.
Jane Gay and Steve May