How are changes to assessment in BTEC Early Years perceived as influencing the vocational nature of the curriculum?
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AbstractChanges within vocational education have been consistent within England (Wolf, 2011, p4.) and are currently increasing within the education of 16-19 year olds (ONS in City & Guilds, 2001 p6.). Included in those changes was a recent reform to BTEC. Stemming from this reform was the introduction of assessment changes. More specifically, an increase in controlled assessments and exams, especially within the Early Years sector, which forms the focus of this research. The introduction of such assessment methods offers a conflicting argument to the notion of creating Early Years practitioners with vocational and industry skills (Nutbrown, 2012). Within current education, students on Early Years vocational courses have voiced concerns that examined assessments do not provide them with the skillset they need for employment. In order to explore the true influence of assessment methods on student outcomes, a range of methods were used to ensure validity, and strengthen findings. Firstly, pre-existing data in the form of modular reviews provided student’s perceptions on how different assessment methods have prepared them for practice and supported their learning. These findings are explored alongside others from the five semi structured interviews gathered from members within one institution. This was used to compare how well assessment methods within the institution were supporting learners compared to the literary findings gathered within the literature review. Each of the data collection methods presented findings which support the need for Nutbrown’s (2012) concept of assessment methods to be industry related. Although, findings also indicated that the institution analysed in this research is considering ways to support the vocational and industry skills of their Early Years workers. However, clear evidence suggests that controlled assessment methods have not provided students with as good an outcome for both grades and skills as industry related assessment methods. Therefore, it is important to make recommendations for change. Following the recognition that the key assessments being used, in line with the BTEC reform, are not providing learners with the best industry related experience they could achieve. Several recommendations are made in line with the key research questions and address both institutions- including teachers and management - and policy writers.
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionDissertation submitted in part fulfilment of the degree of Master of Arts (Education) in Professional Practice and Lifelong Learning.