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The Impact of Curriculum Changes in I. T. at Tendring Adult Community College. It has been announced that there will be changes in the curriculum at our college, Tendring Adult Community College, not only in my subject of I. T. but across the board. This is mainly due to funding issues. Sometimes within a college funding plays a heavy part in determining exactly what the curriculum will contain. Some courses get better/more funding than others and when looking into the financial viabilities of the running of the college this has to be considered.

Accredited courses currently get unit funding from the Learning Skills Council (LSC). The LSC dictate how many units should be allocated to each type of course. Generally, the harder the course, the higher the number of units are awarded. Within our I. T. curriculum a ‘Learn the Basics’ computer course would generate approximately 8 units of funding but the more advanced A Level course would generate about 30 units of funding. In I. T. all 3 and 6 hour introductory courses (non-accredited) get some funding providing the college can show that they lead on to the next level, which would be accredited.

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So when a college such as Tendring Adult Community College (TACC) has to progress in this way it cuts the non-accredited courses to the bare minimum. This gives the students less of a choice about whether or not they take part in formal assessment. However the exams are not compulsory, but as tutors it is our job to promote or even push students into taking them. Again this is to do with evidence-required by the LSC twice yearly in the college audit to prove students are achieving. Obviously checking that a student is progressing and achieving or working towards their learning goal is the most important thing.

The feeling I get as a Tutor from the College is that we are to get students to agree to take the exams even if they have little or no chance in passing them. It’s the fact they have signed up, paid for and entered that counts, not the result. As a tutor I feel that is definitely not what is important to me or to my students. Students having to take exams when they would rather not causes them great stress and added pressure. In our catchment area there is a high percentage of more mature students whose reasons for joining an I. T. course are for pleasure not to gain a qualification to get employment.

Trying to take a student through something they do not want to do is very difficult; it’s quite unrewarding for the tutor. The extra financial costs of an assessment can cause even more problems for students. We have up to now priced the courses without the cost of the exam included, this does leave students thinking they shouldn’t bother or they didn’t realise there was an extra cost. At present we have to ask our students to register for assessment after about a month of tuition and bring up the subject of the cost, which is where we seem to experience the most resistance.

If it were paid for at the start when they enrolled, they would probably have the attitude I’ve paid for it so I might as well do it. But would the total price for the course (course fees + assessment fees) now put them off being so much higher than last years? The decision to change the I. T curriculum is first of the decision of the Vice-principal whose job covers the I. T. side of the college. Then with the I. T. Team Leader who works out the most beneficial courses for both college and students.

I don’t feel at this point Tutors come into it. At the end of the first term of this college year a questionnaire was given to all existing students to detail courses they would like the college to run not only in I. T. but all areas. As a result of this I can see from the new curriculum how the views of the students played a big part. Sometimes it is changes in Government policy that can dictate curriculum changes. Just recently there has been major emphasis on basic skills, so this will have to form a large part of the curriculum.

Once the new courses have been decided and agreed, tutors are then allocated their proposed courses for the coming year. When new courses are introduced extra training has to be set up to ensure that the tutors have the adequate knowledge to take the class. I say adequate because I have found that sometimes it is only the bare minimum of training just to cope with the new subject and no more. I appreciate that a lot of the skills we have to teach are things we must self-teach ourselves in order to give our students the very best chance to meet their own learning goal.

The impact on the students if we are under-trained is they won’t be getting the quality of tuition they deserve or have paid for. The tutor will struggle through and this will be apparent in the classroom – unclear instructions, hesitant replies to questions, poor handouts, exams not marked correctly leading to students thinking their work is fine when it’s not. The Tutor if under trained will feel very much out of their depth and unable to perform as they would like. Most tutors have a pride in giving the class quality tuition, at least that’s how I feel.

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