Supporting literacy for vocational learners
This case study focuses on Emma, a student in the level two Beauty Therapy class. She left school with 6 GCSE’s (neither of them English or maths) and went into work until the age of 23 when she decided to go back to college to study beauty therapy. During the initial assessment stages it became apparent that Emma struggled with some of her literacy skills. ‘Literacy covers the ability to: speak, listen and respond, read and comprehend, write to communicate.’ (The Adult literacy core curriculum, 2001). Writing to communicate appeared to be the area she was particually struggling with. After previously carrying out her level one at another college, she enrolled on the Level 2 full time Beauty Therapy course at my current further education institution. The first stage in any enrolment of the course (after application) is for the students to come in for an interview. Emma is confident while speaking and did not struggle with any communication skills and was enrolled onto the course. The second stage of the initial assessment process is undertaken after the student has been enrolled and during the first two weeks of the course. The students are given small tasks to complete. These are carried at home and during directed work exercises during class hours. One of the exercises is a research task designed to assess reading and writing skills. This exercise also allows the tutor to assess if the student is capable of keeping to deadlines, their research skills and the motivation of the student. The content of the research which Emma undertook was sound and she was able to answer oral questions on the subject. However the written part of the task was not up to the standard needed with many spelling mistakes and sentences with poor construction. This was also mirrored in the assignment which the students were set to undertake at home. The course is a vocational course, however strong literacy skills are needed from the students as this what is required when the student goes into industry. A Fresh Start (1999) states that adult learners ‘the ability to read, write and speak in English and to use mathematics at a level necessary to function at work and in society in general.’
The main call from employers is that the students will need to be able to record down personal details of clients correctly, as well as treatment details. These need to be of a high standard that the information could be read and understood by another therapist. This is particularly important when it comes to medical details and previous treatment details so consistency can be achieved in treatments across the business. As a level 2 course it is a key factor to employers that the students come out of the course competent in basic areas, particularly communication skills as this is a key part of the job and has a high impact on employability. This is reflected by the Quality Improvement Agency (2008) ‘It is now recognised that good literacy, numeracy language and ICT skills are critical, not just to the achievement of level 2 and higher levels of accreditation, but also to efficient performance within the work place.’ When the assignments were discussed with Emma, she agreed that writing was an area she didn’t feel confident in, and that as much as she was confident in her reading ability she struggled to transfer it to the assignments without directly copying from the resource she was working from. From this discussion it was decided that we would do some further assessment with Emma in the form of practice consultations to assess if her skills directly related to the beauty therapy industry needed improving. Her communication during the consultations was very comprehensive but the written record was not reflecting the knowledge gained from the client.
Emma was referred to the literacy specialist within the school. After liaison between Emma, the tutor and the literacy specialist, it was decided that she...
Bibliography: reference list
A Fresh Start: Improving literacy and numeracy. The report of the Working Group chaired by Sir Claus Moser (1999), Department for Education and Employment (DfEE). (Accessed 26/1/2014)
Casey, H., Cara, O. et al (2006) ‘You wouldn 't expect a maths teacher to teach plastering…” Embedding literacy, language and numeracy in post-16 vocational programmes – the impact on learning and achievement’ National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC) (Accessed 24/1/2014)
Skills for life, raising standards; A contextual guide to support success in literacy numeracy and ESOL provision, Embedded learning. The Quality improvement agency (2008). (Accessed 26/1/2014)
http://archive.excellencegateway.org.uk/pdf/Raising%20Standards%20Guide%20Embedded%20learning.pdf (Accessed 26/1/2014)
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