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Admissions to HE Construction Gloucestershire College
Interview with Chris Brightwell who is the Curriculum Manager for Construction Crafts at Gloucestershire College
Are there any particular issues relating to Construction that makes progression to HE difficult?
From an inside perspective there are no particular issues. However from outside of the college the opinion seems to be that Construction Crafts ‘don’t cut the mustard’. That view though may be changing. HE in Construction is already here in the college with HNC, HND, and Foundation degree courses running successfully. There is a confidence issue with in-house staff and HE qualifications so I try to encourage staff to go for courses and qualifications of a higher level.
Are there any success stories re progression to HE from that area that you know of? If so, what in particular has encouraged those students to progress?
I would class myself and other colleagues who have undertaken the Cert Ed through to BEd route as an example of success within the Construction area. I am not frightened to try things anymore and will push the boundaries. I am not afraid to make mistakes and learn from them and push myself forward. I go to meetings much better prepared than before and am able to look at things from different angles.
Do you think that the new Diploma in the Built Environment will give students better preparation for employment and also progression to HE?
Yes. I feel that the Diploma is a fantastic opportunity for learners if schools and colleges collaborate successfully. They also need to get the quality right. It is a good opportunity to develop students but there is a need for ‘buy-in’ from the schools and colleges in order for the Diploma to be a real success. There is also a need for the professional training that is required as well as the investment necessary for successful delivery. At Gloucestershire College we are really serious about the Diploma.
Given the economic downturn have you seen any difference in the type of courses people are enrolling on within Construction?
Here at the college we are running short courses which are equivalent to a full Level 2. There was a high calibre of student enrolling on these at first but there is now a trend that learners without clear ideas of where they want to go are now interested in these courses. However with the economic downturn we have seen Apprentices being made redundant with 20 in bricklaying since September 2008 and other losses from other areas within Construction. IN the short term Apprentices numbers will dwindle but it does depend on areas within Construction as to how badly they are affected. Plumbing and Carpentry are doing well but bricklaying is declining. There will be, in my opinion, an increase in the numbers of full-time students and this number will continue to grow.
Has gaining an HE qualification influenced your own views of progression possibilities for vocational learners?
Yes. It is now more apparent how these learners can progress. It was always there on a chart when I enrolled students but now I am using my own experience to help students realise their potential.
Do you feel that gaining an HE qualification has altered the way that you teach?
Yes and No. It has altered the way I undertake research and the way I come at things. I no longer just stand in front of the class and deliver. I give them a topic and get them to research and then present. This gives them a better understanding of the topic and also helps them deepen their learning. I also feel I am now more specific in what I want my staff to do and am more serious about where I want to go.
What made you decide to undertake HE qualifications?
I was mapping my own career in my mind and as I knew where I wanted to get to I knew what qualifications I needed in order to get there. It was also a drive from school days when I was written off. However here in the college someone gave me an opportunity to better myself. The higher up one gets the more chances there are of improving things which also gave me the drive to push myself further. I am now looking at undertaking my Masters to develop my career, as well as myself, further.