Occasional Email

October 2015

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October is upon us all and we are on the downward run toward the end of another academic year

Earlier in September NZQA put out the latest EQUATE which has key vital information for all of use in the PTE sector:


Key Dates and deadlines

A most valuable table is at the end of the NZQA EQUATE document that needs to be on everyone's wall


In addition, further information was provided detailing

  • Changes to the English language requirements
  • Amendment to the Private Training Establishment Registration Rules 2013
  • PTEs need to disclose their legal name in all material
  • Travel and medical insurance for international students with work and visitor visas
  • Degrees and related qualifications monitoring guidelines now available

So if you haven’t caught up with all this stuff October is a good time to do so so we stay on top of this moving world we all operate in

Apart from this reading from NZQA EQUATE: thinking about Vocational Education is something I have been doing over the past few weeks some thoughts I would like to share below.

I am happy for you to use these ideas in a PD session amongst your staff.

Perceptions of Vocational Education

VE tends to be seen as the ‘poorer cousin’ of academic education. This is largely as a result of the historical development of the education system, the purpose of which, as Sir Ken Robinson has mischievously suggested, ‘throughout the world is to produce university professors’ (Robinson, 2006). It is also, however, contingent upon naive assumptions about what it means to be intelligent. In Bodies of Knowledge (Claxton et al., 2010) Eight ‘myths’ about practical and vocational education exist in the academic ether. These eight myths, recognised as such, give the lie to any notion that vocational learning is not a complex, intelligent activity in which more than just the brain is engaged:

  • Myth 1: Practical learning is cognitively simple.
  • Myth 2: Clever people ‘grow out’ of practical learning.
  • Myth 3: You have to understand something before you can (learn how) to do it.
  • Myth 4: Clever people don’t get their hands dirty.
  • Myth 5: Clever people don’t ‘need’ to work with their hands.
  • Myth 6: Practical education is only for the less ‘able’.
  • Myth 7: Practical learning involves only lower order thinking.
  • Myth 8: Practical teaching is a second-rate activity

Typologies of how Vocational Educational individuals learn best

The typology created by David Perkins seems both thoroughly grounded in the literature and accessible (Perkins, 2009). Here is an adapted version of his seven principles which seem well suited from my observations to both learners and teachers in the real world of vocational education:

  • Play the whole game – use extended projects and authentic contexts.
  • Make the game worth playing – work hard at engaging learners giving them choices wherever possible.
  • Work on the hard parts – discover the most effective ways of practising.
  • Play out of town – try things out in many different contexts.
  • Uncover the hidden game – make the processes of learning as visible as possible.
  • Learn from the team and the other teams – develop robust ways of working in groups and seek out relevant communities of practice.
  • Learn from the game of learning – be in the driving seat as a learner, developing your own tried and tested tactics and strategies.

"Learning actions" that work in a Vocational Education setting

The following list is indicative of methods which are relatively well-understood in some contexts. The majority are broadly ‘learning by doing’ or ‘experiential’, though many combine reflection, feedback and theory. For each one there is significant research to suggest that it might be effective in vocational education:

  • Learning by watching
  • Learning by imitating
  • Learning by practising (‘trial and error’)
  • Learning through feedback
  • Learning through conversation
  • Learning by teaching and helping
  • Learning by real-world problem-solving
  • Learning through enquiry
  • Learning by thinking critically and producing knowledge
  • Learning by listening, transcribing and remembering
  • Learning by drafting and sketching
  • Learning by reflecting
  • Learning on the fly
  • Learning by being coached
  • Learning by competing
  • Learning through virtual environments
  • Learning through simulation and role play
  • Learning through games.

The real test is how many of these things are in actual practice in each classroom every day

Message from me [Bruce Knox at KICS]

The months of September and October have seen me involved in a range of projects

  • Degree programme developments
  • EER peer monitoring as needed
  • International pipelines, strategic connections and relationships
  • L 7 GDip programme accreditations
  • Leadership & Management coaching
  • Making the Pearson programmes available through NZ PTE’s
  • New PTE Registration
  • Numerous EER preparation training workshops [with great outcomes]
  • Post TRoQ programme accreditations
  • Provider strategic oversight and developments
  • TRoQ working groups as need be

These will continue through the balance of 2015 but I am now taking bookings for my involvement in your projects 2016. Happy to drop by and chat as to how I [KICS] could add real value to what is happening in a very cost effective manner