Plumpton College’s teacher training division worked with British Airways Global Learning Academy, exploring how to ensure their industry coaches have the best occupational and educational training expertise.

The college’s teacher training programme is a gateway for specialist, land-based students to progress into the teaching profession. What both Plumpton College and British Airways recognised, was a gap in the educational skills of coaches who support apprentices within the workplace. British Airways is in the process of developing a large apprenticeship programme – and although their coaches are highly specialised in the industry, their teaching experience is limited. Here, everyone involved realised the benefit of collaborating on the development of a new teacher training curriculum, with a view to creating ‘dual professionals’ – teachers and trainers with pedagogical skills and an understanding of the contemporary workplace.

Through a series of workshops where Plumpton College and British Airways shared their respective knowledge of teaching skills and commercial training, the partnership produced a suite of learning videos based on the co-designed curriculum. The project team also interviewed British Airway employees and Plumpton College, to explore how this project would make a difference. The main question was, how is 'upskilling' important? Is it important?

The answer? By ensuring that coaches, trainers, teachers and employers have a better understanding of both industry and educational processes, to ensure the experience delivered to students is the best it can be.

Example learning video showing methods of embedding numeracy and literacy

The videos were made into a series of learning videos, shared with the first group of new students that British Airways have since enrolled.

Did the project make a difference?

The impact of developing and refining the British Airways vocational programmes collaboratively, was that both parties were able to define clear escalators to higher level vocational learning, developing and combining deep knowledge and skills. The opportunity to work with an employer such as British Airways and the chance to collaborate on a specialist curriculum lent an enthusiasm for the project, felt keenly throughout the development of the learning videos, and during the workshops between the college and British Airways.

Employers - recognised their own strengths with process-based, commercial training, but wanted to learn how to take a more holistic viewpoint of their learners needs.

Commercial trainers - This project helped employers to realise that in order to become outstanding apprenticeship coaches, they would need to learn new formative and summative assessment skills. This positively impacted the development of ‘dual professionals’.

Teachers - reflected on the need for more clearly defined learning goals and processes, at the expense of creative and open learning. This renewed the understanding of teachers and trainers with educational and workplace skills.

Public providers - thought that commercial trainers should have a greater understanding of student welfare and wider learning enrichment – which included improved training in safeguarding and prevent, equality and diversity. This is a positive impact on pastoral and academic experience of students within education, and vocational programmes.

Plumpton College trainer Helen Yates runs a teaching workshop embedding Teach Too principles with the apprenticeship management staff of British Airways Global Learning Academy

What we learned

The importance of courses that are designed to meet the needs of local employers. More co-designed curriculum's, with employers, colleges and training providers, means that courses match the skills needs of the sectors. This is key for student progression, and making sure that the college is providing the most up-to-date teaching and learning environment. Giving students access to digital resources is a big step in improving learner engagement.

How crucial it is to recruit coaches with industry and teaching experience. By working with British Airways, it became clear that getting specialist practitioners to visit the college to share their skills helps to develop not only an understanding of the role of teacher, but also to make sure that colleges, employers, and trainers have the highest combined skills in education and industry. College teaching staff have also had the opportunity to visit large corporate organisations, like British Airways, to better understand their commercial learning and training needs.