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Progression Route from National Diplomas in Health and Social Care into Social Policy Degree Courses


Progression Route from National Diplomas in Health and Social Care into

Social Policy Degree Courses.

One of the main focuses of the WVLLN’s work on progression agreements has been the idea of the transferability of vocational qualifications ie. that the transferable study skills in national diplomas can allow students to progress from the subject area they’ve studied between 16 and 18 years old, to a completely different subject at HE (just as is already common practice for A level students).  For example, a student who successfully completes a National Diploma in Engineering or Health and Social Care will have gained the type of transferable skills which admissions tutors will recognise as relevant to a Business Studies degree.

However, earlier in the year, a meeting between a careers adviser and level 3 tutor in Health Studies at Wiltshire College and the Director of Studies and admissions tutor in the Social Policy Department at the University of Bath revealed that there’s also plenty to be done around raising awareness amongst vocational learners that progression onto related courses is a possibility.

The majority of students on the college’s National Diploma in Health Studies have chosen the course because they have a very clear idea of a particular profession they wish to pursue,  such as midwifery, nursing, physiotherapy etc.  When it comes to applying for HE they can focus on courses which will enable them to reach this goal.  However, at 18 (just as with many A level students) a proportion are uncertain about what career they want to follow in the future and this is where Social Policy related courses may provide an interesting option.

The meeting between FE and HE staff enabled them to gain more of a familiarity of the content of their respective courses.  Discussions covered what vocational learners could offer in terms of knowledge and skills, as well as what courses within the Social Policy field could offer the students.  FE staff were able to allay HE staff concerns about the vocational learners’ ability to tackle exams.  From FE’s perspective, a significant proportion of students may start their national diplomas with fairly low GCSE grades, but leave with much higher grades on level 3 courses than they expect.  The courses attract really bright, able students who can tend to panic about exams, maybe as a result of negative experiences in the past.  However, as a result of the different approach to study and assessment they encounter as part of their national diploma, the students really blossom and gain an enormous amount of confidence which means when they come to HE level study they are ready for the challenge of HE study and the associated formal exams.  Students who go onto courses like nursing and midwifery will face a lot of exams and students who keep in contact with their former FE tutors report that although there may be some initial culture shock as with any transition to a new learning environment, because they are really motivated by the subject they are studying, they persist and succeed.

FE staff felt that if these national diploma students had a clearer idea about what the Social Sciences at university involve and the types of careers they can lead to some would be interested in applying.  The HE staff involved in the discussion were very positive about increasing the diversity of their student body in a way which enriches the learning experience for all students.

It was agreed that visits by Social Policy first year students to Health and Social Care students at the college, would be a good first step in raising awareness of the possible progression route into Social Policy courses across the WVLLN region.  This was a clear example of where increased communication between the FE and HE sector can make progression routes much more transparent for learners on level 3 vocational courses.

Please see our November 2008 Newsletter for more WVLLN News

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