Introduction/Aims This project will maximise the recent validation of the colleges to deliver the Foundation Degree (FD) in Applied Professional Studies (APS) and Higher Apprenticeship in Business. It is exploring across all the colleges a common set of CATS procedures, developing an integrated Higher Vocational Education Regional Prospectus and providing support to colleges in the offer of an ‘asset’ model of bridging using the Building on Competence course.
Barrier(s) This project will pilot ways to improve low progression rates from work-based college learners undertaking part-time technician level and level 3 NVQ programmes including Advanced Level Apprenticeships and to provide those on part-time professional, management and higher technician courses at levels 4 and 5 with clear credit transfer opportunities.
What we intend to do/Proposition
Develop agreed partner college CATS procedures to promote progression between part-time level 3 and non-prescribed HE and the APS programme to develop a more unified and navigable higher vocational education offer for people in work clearly articulated with progression to honours and master’s degrees and higher professional qualifications;
Establish clear information about fees and loans and the financial implications of different learning pathways;
Publish an innovative Regional Higher Vocational Education Prospectus providing a navigation tool for people in work about the offer across the pilot colleges in SE London and NW Kent;
Trial with experienced work-based learners at level 3, the potential to metacognitively reflect on past practices, including those learned to a level of competency in past awards at level 3, to raise the learning to HE level four accreditation worthiness. By making links to practices undertaken and developed since the original award, level 4 learning would be evidenced through discussion of the 'why' rather than the 'how, making reference to appropriate academic perspectives and producing a supporting portfolio of evidence. This involves repurposing the APS ‘Building on Competence’ level 4 course to explore its potential as an “asset model of bridging” from level 3 to 4 (rather than the more usual “deficit” model) , providing learners with a new type of pathway into higher vocational learning
Rationale/Policy Context This Project directly addresses the issue raised in “New Challenges new Changes” (BIS 2011) in particular relating to unifying both non-prescribed and prescribed HE into a coherent offer between the project colleges. It will also clarify progression for part-time work-based learners at a time when loans for fees become available and learners and employers will be looking for the benefits of credit transfer. The opportunity for colleges to deliver flexible part-time work-based and work-focused programmes is a new one and this adds considerably to their existing higher vocational education offer for people in the workplace.
Evaluation Evaluation of this project will be formative and summative. Formative evaluation will be on-going and a Steering Group has been established with senior managers from the colleges, the project team, a senior representative of the Linking London CATS Pilot and an employer representing SME s and large companies in SE London. The Steering Group receives regular monitoring and evaluation reports of progress against the detailed project plan.
The Linking London and the Greenwich Partner College CATS Pilots have agreed to undertake peer evaluation involving formative reporting to the Steering Group.
A summative external review report has been commissioned to provide an oversight of the monitoring and evaluation reports and the peer evaluation process and to comment on its rigour as well as identify from an external point of view, areas of best practice and any issues of concern. Sussex Learning Network based at the University of Brighton which has expertise in work-based learning and the issues surrounding credit accumulation and transfer has been commissioned.
Transferability/Scale-ability The work of the CATS Pilot will be sustainable because the colleges all need to establish their Higher Vocational Education offer more clearly in their markets and develop coherent and navigable progression pathways. The decision by the colleges to run the work-based programmes recently validated by the University was based on the need to strengthen their offer to work-based learners as well as their own existing and past part-time learners at levels 3, 4 and 5.
The APS and Higher Apprenticeship offer will be new to these markets and as it provides the opportunity to underpin a common CATS system, the Pilot will provide the opportunity to undertake collaboratively, work to embed this into a more unified higher vocational education offer, and to test its effectiveness.
In particular terms, the outcomes of this project will be embedded as follows: the University will continue to publish the regional prospectus including the agreed CATS procedures, clear progression pathways, clear fee information and the whole higher vocational education offer across the Pilot Colleges on its Partner College micro site;
it will also include details of any other partner colleges as may wish to join at a later date.
The outcomes and lessons from this Pilot will be transferable to other colleges in the network and to those outside it. The Prospectus will be available for dissemination to other university and college networks as well as the results of the evaluation.