Vocademia: an exploration and a construction




"What's that coming over the hill is it a monster?"

In 2013 the long standing GCSE and A-level model of 14 - 19 education is due for a major review:-

"Mr Balls confirmed that an A-Level review scheduled for 2008 will now be postponed and that a first review of 14-19 qualifications will instead take place in 2013." http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2007_0195

"Education secretary Ed Balls is to postpone a review into A-Levels due next year until 2013. The minister explained yesterday the government was delaying the review in order to give the new Diploma system time to bed down."

In anticipation of some of the major changes proposed during this review (though the extent of these is not yet certain) there seems to have been three differing responses from the teaching profession:-

* 1 disregard

* 2 trepidation and threat

* 3 warmly welcomed

Being just over 3 years away I think it is unwise to adopt the first response. If as has been proclaimed by the founders of the diplomas, that it is their wish that these new qualifications will do away with  the current GCSE and A-level qualifications, then it would certainly be better for the teacher to adopt at least a passing interest in a change which could radically alter the way they perform their job.

This has be countered by the argument that the diplomas are just another appendage, part of the educational policy overload that sees the rampant political need to add something new to an already overcrowded curriculum. The diploma being just another example of this. My investigation will investigate this assumption.

I am aware that busy traditional subject practitioners have little time for new initiatives that seemingly have little bearing on what they are actually doing in the classroom. However, I would counter this with a question: have you in your teaching ever questioned the validity of what you are doing, and wondered whether there might be a better way of enhancing education? Admittedly, beyond one's early teaching years, reflection time is in very short supply, and contact time is a uniquely taxing and intensive occupation, leaving little room for considerations of pedagogy when the next class is about to roll into your classroom. Another major concern for established teachers about to embark on the Diploma route is a perceived lack of training for the new diploma. In terms of the Creative and Media diploma, it is certainly the case that due to its multi-disciplinary nature, whereby 20 different areas such as Art, Music, Drama and Media etc are to be covered, a very different approach will be needed by its Art and Creative based practitioners. The diplomas in general also contain several new elements that are supposed to be embedded within the teaching of them, again demanding a different approach.  In this exploration I introduce a model of how one can cope with these different elements of the new diplomas.

The second response is usually made by those teachers, who for various reasons, remain enamoured of the status quo, and resist change of any kind. This exploration is probably anathema for these teachers, being as it is about radical change, and uses a website for its format. I doubt very much whether these teachers would ever care to visit this my web based  exploration, so my intention is to reach these through an exhibition of this work, at a later date.

I think it is safe to say that in the teaching profession the perception of the diplomas as being something welcomed is the least common of the three attitudes I have highlighted. Even in progressive institutions and progressive minds, anything new is often, and understandably so, treated with hesitation.

In conclusion then on audience, I argue that all teachers could become stakeholders of the new Diploma system, and might find something of interest in this exploration of them. Even if the Diploma system does not become the all encompassing new educational model for 14 to 19 year olds, I believe that my exploration offers up some interesting insights into the nature of pedagogy for teenagers, ones that might prove useful to any teacher who really wants to reflect upon and improve their own teaching, and the learning that goes on in their teaching spaces.