Today’s post comes courtesy of Roger Francis, Director of Services and HR at MindLeaders ThirdForce
A few months ago I blogged about the scientific fact that wild rabbits have bigger brains than tame ones. Of course, this is because wild rabbits have a much wider environment to explore, have to fend for themselves and most importantly, they can learn from experience and from other rabbits. You can’t do any of that when you are stuck in a hutch.
Wild bunnies were very much on my mind when I sat down a couple of years ago with my team to develop a delivery solution for Functional Skills. We knew that Functional Skills would become a compulsory component of the Apprenticeship framework and that many of the 600,000 plus learners who start an Apprenticeship programme every year would be bringing along bad memories of their experience of Maths and English in schools, having been fed on often unappetising morsels of information in their classroom “hutch”.
If we wanted to address that challenge and release large numbers of “wild” Apprentices into the open countryside, we knew that we would have to develop a programme that was exciting, innovative and enabled our baby bunnies to learn from experience and from each other. We believed that informal learning as opposed to formal teaching was the way forward.
All our feedback to date suggests that we have been successful. Our delivery method enables learners to seek out their own solutions to the problems that we set them. They then receive detailed feedback and support from their Learning Support Managers (or perhaps we should call them mother rabbits…). Our clients tell us that learners who have completed Functional Skills are noticeably more confident, better motivated and more eager to progress than their colleagues who have been fed the old Key Skills lettuce.
In addition, we are incorporating more and more features of social learning into our delivery solution. Our bunnies already have access to podcasts and can participate in weekly webinars. And of course, we don’t plan to stop there. Over the next twelve months, we plan to incorporate more and more features of social and informal learning into our solution and develop a living, breathing Functional Skills learning community that rivals Watership Down. Learners will be sharing their successes with their “friends”, tweeting about their experiences and seeking support from fellow members in “learning groups” specializing in specific areas of their programme. It will be informal, interactive and most importantly, fun.
All of this is of course a million miles away from the classroom “hutch” in which I grew up and it took me a long time to plot my escape. So I am passionate about helping the new generation of baby rabbits to join me in the wild and determined to ensure that they survive when they get there.
Who would like to join me?