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'It's all about transparency and partnership working' – Martin and Nicola, St Helens College

St Helens College started delivering T Levels in September 2023. Nicola Langton, Level 3 Childcare Programme Manager, and Martin Parkinson, Lecturer in Health and Social Care, share their experiences and explain how they have drawn on the T Level Professional Development offer – delivered by 51ԹϹ (51ԹϹ) and funded by the Department for Education – as they prepared for delivery.

How did you feel when you found out you’d be delivering T Levels?

Nicola Langton is pictured seated in an education and early years teaching environment.
Nicola Langton, Level 3 Childcare Programme Manager

Nicola: We were given just over a year’s notice before delivering T Levels, and initially I struggled a bit to understand what would be involved. I started engaging with the T Level Professional Development offer straight away, and one of the first courses I attended was the Introducing the education and childcare route course, which helped me understand what the T Level involved, and how to approach timetabling and organising industry placements. Networking and visiting other providers has also been really helpful, and I signed up to mark T Level papers, which has helped me understand the exam requirements.

Martin: I felt pretty competent to teach the T Level, drawing on my 30 years’ experience in industry. As we prepared for delivery, we visited another provider to see their clinical simulated environment, and I drew on experience of working in simulated teaching in higher education (HE) when planning our own clinical room. There have been challenges in our preparation, including time for planning alongside teaching commitments, but I’d say it’s been a positive journey, even if it’s been a challenging one.

Which parts of the T Level Professional Development offer have you found most useful?

Martin Parkinson stands in a teaching ward.
Martin Parkinson, Lecturer in Health and Social Care

Nicola: I’ve found it beneficial to dip into various parts of the TLPD offer. Sometimes I access the recorded versions if I’m unable to attend, which gives me flexibility. Over the last year I’ve accessed courses including the Understanding T Levels course for frontline staff, several Curriculum networks, an Assessment in T Levels course, and Industry Insights workshops. I also completed an Industry Insights placement at the local primary school reception. My background is in industry, and I’ve always stayed involved where possible over 22 years of teaching, but this opportunity helped to confirm what has changed, what hasn’t, and I could take ideas back to the classroom.

Martin: Resources on curriculum planning and design have been most helpful for me, supporting with pitching the right material to students at the right time. I found the Leeds T Level Learning From event in April really informative and beneficial. Being able to choose which breakout sessions we attended on the day was great; the embedded English and maths session was particularly good and cleverly done. The event was great for networking, and now I have people contacting me with questions about their preparation to deliver T Levels from 2024.

What advice would you give to other providers starting this journey?

Nicola: I’d definitely say go and visit existing providers that are delivering T Levels because they can share ideas and talk you through things. At the beginning it does feel quite scary and it can be difficult to know where to start, so I’d encourage people to draw on support and advice from others, and the resources and CPD available.

Martin: It’s all about transparency and partnership working. Definitely go and visit other sites, network and talk to others – that way you can share resources and ideas, and inspire and motivate each other to deliver the best experience for your students.

For more information about the T Level Professional Development (TLPD) offer, visit the TLPD webpage.