Gerard McCabe recently studied the City and Guilds Level 3 Award in Education and Training at South West College. He tells Way out West all about his experience...
For the past three years I have worked as a classroom assistant in three different schools: St. Mary’s Christian Brothers Grammar School, Belfast; St. Joseph’s College, Belfast; and, most recently, back home at Omagh CBS. My long-term ambition has always been to go into teaching, which I will do this coming September at Queen’s University, Belfast.
During the last school year, with my impending venture into teacher training on my mind, I decided to undertake the City and Guilds Level 3 Award in Education and Training which was available at the South West College Dungannon Campus. Even though my intentions are to focus on post-primary 11-18 education, I decided to join this course, which focused more so on adult education.
Naturally, there is a lot of cross over in the theory concerning child and adult learning so I saw this course as an excellent opportunity to support and improve on the knowledge and experience I have garnered during my time working in education. As well as this, I thought that it would also allow me to add another string to my bow, should I ever wish to go down the route of adult education in the future.
Like myself, there were those who were using the course as a precursor to post-primary training, others who may have needed to be able to train other people as part of their current job, and those who were seeking to become adult educators at a college
The course itself was part-time, between January and June, and consisted of fifteen three-hour sessions on Wednesday evenings. It was split into three units: Unit 301: ‘Understanding Roles, Responsibilities and Relationships in Education and Training’; Unit 302: ‘Understanding and Using Inclusive Teaching and Learning Approaches in Education and Training’; and Unit 305: ‘Understanding Assessment in Education and Training’.
Each of these modules was assessed through written assignment, with Unit 302 also requiring each student to plan and ‘perform’ a 15 minute micro-teach lesson to the rest of the group on any subject and topic of their choosing. This was particularly interesting as it served to highlight the range of reasons why those taking part in the course had chosen to do so.
Like myself, there were those who were using the course as a precursor to post-primary training, others who may have needed to be able to train other people as part of their current job (in pharmacy/childcare/ health and safety/beauty therapy, etc), and those who were seeking to become adult educators at a college - which they would be able to do upon completion of the Level 4 Award in Education and Training.
As I’d hoped, the course allowed me to build on and supplement my pre-existing knowledge whilst also introducing me to new facets of learning theory
Reflecting on this experience, I would say that I thoroughly enjoyed both the course and my time at the college. As I’d hoped, the course allowed me to build on and supplement my pre-existing knowledge whilst also introducing me to new facets of learning theory that I will be able to take on to my new role this coming year.
Thanks to the brilliant way the course was taught, I would say that I didn't find it overly taxing, and it was definitely suited for all learners as everyone was coming from different educational backgrounds. I certainly found it helpful that I was familiar with the majority of the theoretical concepts we dealt with, especially having seen a lot of them in practice in schools. In terms of assignments, we were given plenty of time in to complete each one which made it easy for me to fit around both my professional and personal lives. On top of this, there was plenty of guidance and support available along the way if students were having problems with their assignment or finding a particular aspect of the course difficult.
Students had the option of coming to one-one-one tutorial sessions with the tutor prior to each evening’s main session, which helped a number of my fellow students who felt that they needed that additional support. It can be expected and understandable in courses such as this that attendance may drop from time to time as students are trying to balance it alongside their busy home and work lives, so I think that it is a great reflection on both the course and level of teaching provided by South West College that attendance was at almost 100% for the duration of the course. I would certainly not hesitate to recommend the college, or course, to any potential students and I would very much be open to attending further courses at the college in the future.