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Learner Involvement Strategy. Beginnings……. Coulsdon College Context:. Sixth Form College (1300+ 16-18) in Croydon, South London; 30% of our learners are level 1 & 2; 60% are BME learners;

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coulsdon college context
Coulsdon College Context:

Sixth Form College (1300+ 16-18) in Croydon, South London;

30% of our learners are level 1 & 2;

60% are BME learners;

We have been participated in a variety of Citizenship initiatives since 2003 and are Citizenship ‘Champions’;

Partnership: keen to work with Strode’s to develop an effective Learner Involvement Strategy;

Deputy Principal (ex Politics teacher) perspective.

initial audit
Initial Audit

At first glance there appears much ‘Learner Involvement’:

Open Day/Taster Day & a host of other surveys

Induction Questionnaires

Termly course feedback

Individual Learning Plans + SMART targets

A clear complaints procedure

A Student Council

A VLE (Moodle) with a variety of fora

Focus Groups

Student Governors and more…

Yet closer analysis reveals the dialogue to be shallow & superficial.

current barriers
Current Barriers

Communication methods

  • Carrier pigeon V MSN

Teacher/Management attitude

  • At worst: paternalistic (“you’re too young to understand”), tokenistic (“I have spoken to two”) and defensive ( what do you know? I am the professional here!”)

Learner skill

  • students who are ill equipped to engage in real dialogue about their learning needs other than a superficial knowledge of learning styles.
  • An assessment culture that constrains this dialogue with an obsession with teaching to the test and an understandable perception from learners that what they need is notes, lots of notes!

Weak representation for learners

  • immature processes that don’t feed effectively into decision making structures and rely too heavily on charismatic individuals for success
communication strategy
Communication Strategy

Themobile phone/My Space/ podcast/ blog generation are used to instant feedback, interactivity & technology. We need to keep up.

Devise, with learners, a cross college Communication Strategy.

We will need to consider:

the role of email, functionality of our VLE and rules around mobile phones. (Remove the signs that say no use of mobile phones!)

V clear links to teaching & learning policy (submission of work), email protocols, parental access, personalisation agenda/ILPs etc..

student skill
Student Skill

Moving on from learning styles: How?

  • Develop a clear, commonly understood college vocabulary of learning. For communication to occur we need shared meaning. This vocabulary will be used by teacher & tutors and appear in student handbooks/ILP/reports/VLE etc.. We need to start with Open days, induction & initial assessment.
  • Include in the Tutorial programme a revised, differentiated unit on the learning process, We intend to explore what we as professionals consider a good lesson and why. This would include the importance of regular feedback, participation and active learning.
  • Develop and practise the skills needed to question and scrutinize their learning experience in a way that leads to fruitful dialogue rather than conflict.
  • Learnersare currently involved in helping to write the Tutorial programme.
teacher management attitude
Teacher/Management Attitude

We need a new Teaching & Learning Policy that links Learner Involvement with Citizenship, personalisation, ECM and more..

We need to:

  • Recognise the CPD time that is needed and prioritise it through 3 yr development plan/operating statement/QIAP;
  • Explore and accept the need for ‘expert learners’;
  • Agree the learning vocabulary that should be shared and in what form;
  • Make the link between ‘expert learners’ & wider citizenship;
  • Agree modern communication protocols, use of VLE;
  • Review SA/QA procedures.

So far we have planned two full days in April 2007 to tackle these themes including a day on ‘Motivational Dialogue’ with Paul Lalgee from CONEL. We have planned differentiated ILT support for Summer term.

representative structures
Representative Structures

Reassigned the responsibility back to a Senior Manager;

Recognise training will be needed annually;

Rewrite constitution & ensure Student Council feeds formally into college decision making;

Resurrect curriculum course boards & link with QA;

Maintain the democracy unit in Tutorial programme & link explicitly to College structures

Acknowledge that a variety of learner panels/involvement methods are needed, Ezine et al..

it s all citizenship
It’s all Citizenship!

The development of Learner Involvement Strategy is an opportunity to mainstream citizenship:

  • Modelling the behaviour & attitudes we claim to value;
  • Developing articulate, informed, reflective future citizens;
  • With a willingness to take action.
Contact Details:


01737 558040