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The second example comes from a ‘front end’ course designed to develop key skills within Foundation Modern Apprenticeship. In order to be able to cope with the demands of the Technical Certificates and NVQs within the frameworks, it is essential that trainees have well established key skills from the outset. The emphasis of our approach was to offer early opportunities for trainees to improve these skills. Early success for trainees is very motivational and the indications from the evidence are that retention is enhanced when the key ingredients are in place. An early emphasis on key skills was also intended to help trainees to get off to a flying start with portfolio preparation.

BOX 2: Assessment Centre for Modern Apprenticeships in Administration and Child Care.

The provider is committed to offering literacy, numeracy and the wider key skills in a front-end delivery module as the tutors firmly believe that it contributes to the learners’ positive outcomes and facilitates as well as speeds up the completion of their frameworks. As part of their initial assessment the learners also have to take the paper-based Occupational Assessment to identify what they know within their chosen occupational areas. Ongoing assessments include portfolio development as well as formative assessment with a second diagnostic test. For their portfolios the learners undertake a number of projects and assignments with the support of the occupational expert and the basic skills expert.

The learners are offered a selection of projects to choose from. The projects give learners the opportunity to demonstrate their literacy, numeracy and wider key skills, and are related to their occupational areas. Formative assessment involves on-line and continuous assessment of learners. The purposes of the continuous assessment were:

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    to ensure that the learner’s progress is satisfactory;

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    to set new targets and objectives; and

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    to give the learners detailed feedback on their achievements.

Owing to the limited number of learners in this case, many of the literacy, numeracy and wider key skills sessions were conducted as one-to-one tutorials. The teachers argue that this promotes both confidence and skills development in the learners. There is potential for using models of the type developed in Box 1 in these types of programmes.

The application of these methods leads to some more general conclusions about the ingredients for success in using tutor supported self-evaluation in college-based 14 – 19 education and training:

¾ teachers and trainers need to be prepared and adequately trained to support the identification and development of learners’ personal competences

¾ early introduction of tutor-supported self-assessment of learners

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