How do you take industry expertise into the learning environment while retaining that practical, everyday sector knowledge? It’s an issue that has been looked at recently and Jenny Williams wants to hear from FE and skills providers where such issues have been overcome.

There has been much discussion in the last few weeks about ‘line of sight to work’ and ‘the two-way street’ — two of the key characteristics for excellent vocational teaching and learning identified earlier this year by the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning (CAVTL) in its report, It’s about work.

The first National Vocational Education and Training Conference, also called It’s about work, which was held as part of the Skills Show in November, heard from Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, just how important vocational education and training (VET) will be “if we are to secure a structural economic recovery, rather than a cyclical rebound”.

We want to translate knowledge of existing effective practices and development work into shareable expertise

The language is resonating, and in so doing, creating a platform on which to raise the status, and further improve the quality and impact of VET.

Meanwhile, the Education and Training Foundation has been making a start on taking forward CAVTL’s recommendations. An early priority is Teach Too.

The idea of Teach Too is to encourage experts from industry to spend some time teaching their occupational expertise to others and to contribute to vocational curriculum development, while continuing to work.

In the other direction of the two-way street, it is also about enabling teachers and trainers to draw on up-to-date industry experience and in so doing to add value to employers’ businesses.

We know we are not starting from scratch, and that a number of Teach Too style arrangements already exist.

Our starting point, therefore, has been to call for the engagement of the education and training sector to identify and report on a good range of existing effective practices as a basis for further development work.

We want to translate knowledge of existing effective practices and development work into shareable expertise in transferring on-the-job learning to an off-the-job learning context and vice versa.

We have also launched an invitation to tender for a delivery partner to work with us on this and, working from practice to principles to help us design a national framework for Teach Too next year.

Teach Too is an early priority for the foundation’s vocational education and training strategy, together with programmes to support the introduction of traineeships, the implementation of reforms to apprenticeships, and professional development support to embed skills competitions practice.

Further programmes taking forward CAVTL’s recommendations on the two-way street, improving the distinctive practices of vocational teaching and learning, support for occupational updating and the use of learning technologies will follow early in 2014.

We will also be consulting on the longer term development of a national VET Centre which could act as a focal point for excellence and innovation in vocational teaching and learning.

As the author of the CAVTL report, it has been pleasing to hear its language being adopted. Our priority now at the foundation is to build on the interest in the CAVTL’s findings as a platform for action and innovation to support the further professional development of the vocational education and training workforce. As Frank McLoughlin has said, CAVTL saw “genuinely world-class provision in a whole range of settings”.

What was clear was that “the best vocational teaching and learning is a sophisticated process; it demands ‘dual professionals’ — teachers and trainers with occupational expertise and experience, who can combine this with excellent teaching and learning practice”.

The foundation’s task is to build on the expertise that already exists, to make it more visible and replicate it more widely for the benefit of learners and employers.

Jenny Williams, director of vocational education and training, Education and Training Foundation

Visit www.et-foundation.co.uk/our-priorities/vocational-education.html to find opportunities to work with the foundation on Teach Too. Short expressions of interest are invited by January 17. To bid for the opportunity to be the foundation’s delivery partner for Teach Too, visit the procurement page of the foundation website