Raising the profile of FE technical teaching through Technical Teaching Fellowships

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) and Royal Commission are reflecting on recent events that have enabled Technical Teaching Fellows to raise the prestige of FE technical teaching by sharing their effective practice widely.

The fellows continue to make impact on the technical STEM education agenda as they support Further Education (FE) teachers and wider colleagues to deliver high-quality, industry-relevant teaching and learning experiences.

ETF Fellows – a royal reception

On 4 November 2021, the Fellows attended a prestigious ‘Fellow’s Reception’ at Fishmonger’s Hall in London and met the President of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, Her Royal Highness (HRH), The Princess Royal.

The event showcased the work of the Commission across the science and engineering community. The Technical Teaching Fellows hosted exhibition stands and had a private audience with the Princess Royal.

Stephen Mariadas, ETF & Royal Commission Technical Teaching Fellow and Chief Executive Officer at the South West Institute of Technology, and Degree Apprenticeship Lecturer in Data Analytics, Exeter College, said: “HRH asked searching questions and clearly understood the role that FE providers play and the value of promoting effective practice through Teaching Fellowships. The Royal Commission’s Fellows Reception was perhaps the pinnacle of my FE career. Presenting to the Princess Royal on the impact of my fellowship within the FE sector was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he added.

Promoting professional excellence in technical teaching

The Technical Teaching Fellowships programme is designed to promote professional excellence in the delivery of technical STEM teaching and training by developing and disseminating exceptional practice and encouraging a ‘community of practice’ across the sector.  

One of the Fellows, Rosa Wells, is the Director of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology, which hosted a visit from Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, on 17 November 2021. The Secretary of State saw the cutting-edge facilities which – in partnership with both employers and HE – the IoT established, and spoke to employers, teachers and learners about their experiences.

Sharing her experience of the day and progress so far in addressing skills gap, Wells said: “I was delighted to be invited by the Department for Education to host a visit from the Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP along with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Institute of Technology which I lead on behalf of our College and University Partners. We have been working collaboratively across the region to support lecturers in developing courses which respond to employer skills gaps. As a result, we are currently piloting courses in the maintenance and repair of electric/hybrid vehicle, mechatronics and low carbon engineering. We have established a shared Virtual Learning Environment to support our teaching teams to share these resources and will be establishing train the trainer sessions to ensure learners can access high quality training locally”

In a speech delivered at the AoC Conference on 17 November, Zahawi said: “T Levels are the future. We are going to deliver the skills economy and I want you all to be recognised as the team that delivered. We need to build further and ensure far closer alignment between colleges and employers right across our skills system. Local Skills Improvement Plans will be seeing more creative partnerships between employers and colleges to deliver the skills local economies need.”
(Read the full speech on the Gov.uk website.)

You can also watch a video on Zahawi’s visit via his Twitter.

Cerian Ayres, National Head of Technical Education at the ETF, said: “The Royal and Ministerial attention that the ETF and Royal Commission Fellows are receiving is a sign of the times: the return of FE and technical teaching to the centre of national education and economic recovery that aims to rebuild the UK economy, post-Covid and post-Brexit, with the skills and ‘levelling up’ agendas at its heart.”

Chris Fairclough, ETF and Royal Commission Technical Teaching Fellow and Curriculum Operations Leader – Higher Engineering, Science and Nuclear Department, National College for Nuclear (NCfN), Lakes College West Cumbria, said: “Attending the Fellows Reception was a reminder that we are part of something much bigger: the Fellowship and the opportunities to influence that it brings is a real privilege. It’s a fantastic opportunity to help put FE on the map and to showcase what FE can do for the future of the UK.”  

Further information

Since 2019, 10 Fellows have been recruited from across the UK. Applications for the 2022/23 are open until Friday 6 November 2021. For further information and to apply, please visit the ETF website.

In 2021, the Fellows supported the ETF’s development of an open, online course ‘Preparing for a career in FE teaching and training’, which aims to support career changes and new teachers. The course considers the technical educational reforms and provides an excellent grounding in the theory and practice of technical teaching. Since its publication, more than 100 participants have enrolled on the course.