Hopefully you are feeling settled in to the new academic year by now and your classes are well underway….

Over the summer I was doing some reading of a few blogs and websites that often have interesting ideas for FE teaching. In doing so, I kept coming across the same ideas of what makes a good lesson.  Whether the article was originally focussed on embedding English and maths, or learning styles, or differentiation and stretch and challenge, or effective group work, the same ideas cropped up again and again.  It made me realise that although there are a range of strategies that tutors use in different situations, the markers of a good and successful session are very much the same.  In the end I made a list, and I thought I could use this to self-evaluate a session, in the spirit of reflective practice, and that I might then be able to identify what was good, and what I need to do differently.  So here’s my list.

  • Have you checked what learners can already do / already know? How does this impact on what you have planned to teach them?
  • Have you told learners what the aim is? What they should be able to do by the end of the session? What they will have achieved?
  • Are learners aware of how their English, maths and IT skills contribute to their learning? Do they have the opportunity to develop these skills where necessary?
  • Is what you are doing in the session helping learners to remember new knowledge and understanding?
  • Is what you are doing in the session helping learners to apply and innovate with this new learning?
  • Is the learning broken into approachable steps/chunks?
  • Do learners have the chance to practice in a focussed way?
  • Are you revisiting important topics?
  • Are activities fun?
  • Are learners active and engaged?
  • Do learners have choices in the session?
  • Are your learners working collaboratively?
  • Are relationships in the group positive and supportive?
  • Are you using self- and peer-assessment?
  • Are ALL learners challenged?
  • Do you check the understanding of ALL learners, including the quiet ones?
  • Does your feedback help individual learners understand what they need to do to improve?
  • Are learners doing independent work / reading around the subject / continuing to learn and apply their learning outside the session?
  • Can learners see how their learning applies to the world outside the classroom?
  • Do you ask your learners what they think about the course? And do you take action based on this?

If I have a few “No!” answers to these questions I’ll have to think about my particular group, and work out the right strategy to change that answer to a positive. That might be a bit daunting, but the first step is to be honest about what I’m currently doing and recognise any gaps.

I’d love to hear your thoughts: what’s the most important item on the list? – I’m sure “Fun” is fairly high up there! – what would you have on your list?  Any great ideas for addressing specific, thorny items?  Please let me know using the reply box at the bottom of the page…

In other news

Embedding maths and English in technical and vocational programmes

Here is a resource from the Excellence Gateway – This zip file contains fifteen flyers summarising maths and English dimensions of a variety of technical and vocational areas. They are designed to help providers and employers to embed maths and English skills into their study programmes and work experience placements.


Education and Training Foundation resources for communication and employability

The Education and Training Foundation has produced a set of cards containing short activities that can be used at the start or end of prison workshops, training or education sessions to help learners develop their confidence and abilities to communicate effectively. This is particularly important for employability, or the communication practices people need to take part in to seek and keep work and navigate their lives and learning. In addition to the cards, you’ll find a list of resources that would form a useful toolkit to support the activities, 10 communication abilities valued by employers, and mapped to each activity the associated developing English guiding principles. http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk/content/etf2517

More Employability resources – Family Learning and others

This is a great resource developed by Niace, to help learners on Family learning courses identify the employability and transferable skills that they have developed as part of their course. Although it is designed with FL in mind it could easily be adapted for learners on other courses who are thinking about moving onto work, and makes a nice activity to do towards the end of a course, to review progress and how learners might move on to other learning/work.

This resource has been produced as part of NIACE’s ‘Sign Up Now’ campaign. It is for use in family learning settings by parents, carers and tutors to demonstrate and celebrate some of the different opportunities to which participants in family learning can progress. It can also be used as a stimulus for discussion to reflect on the wealth of skills and experience that parents/carers have, and to think about which of these can be transferred to the world of work.


ETF digital skills support for tutors

These are self-evaluation and development resources developed by the ETF with the aim of supporting tutors to develop their own practice in the area of using technology and digital:



Staffs ACL CPD resources

Materials from the recent CPD and Tutor briefing sessions can be found here:


Thanks to all who have attended and contributed to these successful sessions so far.

Equality and diversity opportunities:

Black History Month -October

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, this is a time when we highlight and celebrate the achievements of the black community and uncover hidden history about our communities.

More information at: http://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/

UK Older People’s Day –Sunday, 1stOctober

Highlights older people’s contribution to society and the economy. Aims to celebrate the opportunities and achievements that later life can bring

More information at:   www.olderpeoplesday.co.uk

World Mental Health Day –Tuesday, 10thOctober

Since 1992 World Mental Health Day has been observed annually on 10 October. One in four of us will be affected by a Mental Health condition in our lifetimes

More information at: www.mentalhealth.org.uk

Tea and Talk events: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/world-mental-health-day

Armistice Day –Saturday, 11thNovember

A two minute silence is observed at 11am on 11th day of the 11th month. This is when the Great War, or World War One, came to an end in 1918. Today this anniversary is used to remember everyone that has died while at war.

Transgender Day of Remembrance –Sunday, 12thNovember

A day to remember and honour the lives of those individuals who have been killed because of their gender identity or expression.


Also taking place in November:

1st ‘Movember’ Men’s Health Awareness Month

13th Anti-Bullying Week

14th World Diabetes Day

19th International Men’s Day


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