In partnership with local businesses, local authorities and multi-national companies, Plumpton College engaged in collaborative research to explore the importance of embedding literacy, numeracy and digital skills into apprenticeship programmes.

As a specialist land-based Further and Higher education provider, Plumpton wished to explore whether blended learning, a mix of teaching methods and resources, would be an effective way of encouraging and developing the outstanding teaching of core skills to its apprentices.

The English & Maths Marketplace was a chance to showcase teaching methods from different curriculums, and how to embed these skills in all areas

At Plumpton College

We aimed to achieve three goals - a) to explore the importance of core literacy, numeracy and digital skills in studies and the workplace; b) to build confidence of employers and practitioners to explore how well they provide these core skills; and c) to empower employers and practitioners to develop their teaching, or independent skills at college and work. It was decided that the best way to enable improved core skills was through the creation of twelve Infographics for apprentices, employers and practitioners, as well as a 'how to use' guide for each.

Initial research into teaching practices already in effect was carried out by members of the English & Maths divisions, and specialist curriculum areas within the college. This was done through a showcase of teaching methods about how to embed English & Maths across all curriculum areas, The English & Maths Marketplace. Twelve curriculum areas ran stalls, and over 70 practitioners turned up!

What was the impact?

The feedback from employers, practitioners and learners at workshops and CPD events allowed the Infographics to be relevant to a wide range of learners, as well as specific to workplace fields, while providing a varying range of support initiatives. Plumpton also developed an online Literacy and Numeracy 'hub' to showcase how Plumpton now teaches these core skills to distance learners.

The OTLA project expanded on the increased usage of blended learning, exemplified by the Booker Butchery and Fishmonger apprentices 

With Booker Wholesale

In 2019, Plumpton College undertook the national delivery of Booker's Butchery and Fishmonger apprentices. The OTLA project was a way for both Plumpton and Booker to see how the research could be applied, using a mixture of teaching methods and resources - also termed blended learning.

The project

It was decided that the Infographics produced as part of the wider OTLA project would be used on the first group of apprentices, which would be the first programmes to be delivered under the new apprenticeship standards. This meant that a new curriculum was developed, in order to meet the needs of employers, and new reporting requirements on the programme - while this was challenging, it also provided a way for blended learning to be at the heart of these new apprenticeships. It also meant that figuring out how best to embed core skills into these programmes would be the goal from the beginning.

Because evidence of 'on-the-job' and 'off-the-job' training has become so crucial in the new apprenticeship standards, being able to accurately monitor learning has become more important than ever in colleges.

The Infographics were given to apprentices on their induction to the college, to their employers within the workplace environment, and to their teachers. This was to develop awareness and understanding of the importance of ensuring learners are prepared for the workplace, and that their core literacy, numeracy and digital skills meet employers needs.

The Infographics were used alongside learning videos, giving apprentices access to required core skills, and how to implement them during their practical studies

What difference did the project make?

At Plumpton College, the project has given our practitioners opportunities to reflect on why and how they embed numeracy, literacy and digital skills within their specialist teaching areas. In changing how our apprenticeship programmes are delivered, to include blended learning between the college and the workplace, is positively impacting learners and their development of core skills. This is particularly relevant for national programmes on the new apprenticeship standards which will increasingly need more flexible and remote learning options.

Working with Booker Wholesale gave Plumpton the opportunity to improve our own understanding of how the new apprenticeship standards would affect learner experience, and how using blended learning is positively impacting the development of core skills for their learners. Being able to trial the OTLA project with a new group of Booker apprentices was an invaluable experience for both parties.