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Could vocational options help to overcome student overwhelm?
According to a Teacher Tapp poll from November this year, 81% of 8,314 respondents said mental health would be a barrier to learning in the next six months. This was closely followed by 70% believing that attendance would also be an issue.
We know that there is often a strong link between poor mental health and poor attendance. Sometimes, especially as a result of the challenges of the last few years, students can experience a sense of being overwhelmed with what is expected of them, and what they need to achieve at school.
Offering a different approach to learning
There are many options available to schools in response to student mental health issues, and how schools choose to support this group of students will depend on their specific context and the individual student’s requirements. One of the options available to support struggling students is switching them from a traditional GCSE to a vocational alternative, which offers a different approach to learning and could help take some pressure off overwhelmed students.
Completing an NCFE vocational subject with iAchieve provides a simplified approach to learning for students, offering clear goals and objectives. We take carefully selected NCFE specifications, define the end goals for each induvial course and work backwards to break down the subject areas into digestible sessions. These sessions are then broken down further into small, manageable chunks of learning within each page. This bite-sized approach to learning gives learners clear, frequent successes and before they know it, they’ve achieved a volume of learning they may not previously have believed they could.
Having a flexible delivery scaffold and online provision means students that are struggling with overwhelm can continue to access their learning, uninterrupted, outside of the classroom – whether that’s onsite or from home. This can help to remove some of the pressures of coping with stressful environments, such as being in a traditional classroom setting. It also means students don’t have to fall behind if they’re having a bad week.
Achieving success and self-efficacy
iAchieve's resources for NCFE’s V Certs are carefully designed so that learners can take control of their own learning and are rewarded for their successes along the way. When students feel successful, they're more likely to exhibit successful behaviours. Small, incremental successes which are measurable inspire student improvement. Once learners witness their own achievements, they begin to form successful habits which are often transferred across other areas of their curriculum.
Often, giving students control over their barriers, their habits and ultimately, their successes, improves their self-efficacy. People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:
- Develop a deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
- Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
- Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments
- View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered.
Vocational subjects can be a great way to introduce new attitudes towards learning; with more applied ways of learning, there is a slight shift in focus which can create space for learners to overcome struggles they may previously have had with their studies. If students can develop self-efficacy, this can spread not just across other areas of academia but also into their wider lives outside of school.
Moving away from exam pressure
If learners have had a spell of bad behaviour, poor attendance, or difficulties with applying themselves in lessons, it can be really valuable to offer them the opportunity to have a clean start. Without a chance for redemption, behaviour can deteriorate and learning opportunities dwindle. With some GCSE subjects, a second chance isn’t always an easy thing to achieve. However, vocational courses such as NCFE’s, delivered using iAchieve, could provide something new for a student to focus on – perhaps in a subject with no previous track record of ‘failure’ that the student may have been demoralised by.
In some instances, the pressure of exams can deplete students’ natural curiosity and love of learning, especially where they have a preconceived idea of whether they, as learners, can succeed in the exam environment. The content, structure and assessment methods of vocational qualifications lend themselves very nicely to learners that achieve their best work outside of the pressures of exams.
If you’re looking for additional ways to support students that are struggling with overwhelm, anxiety, or other issues that are preventing them from reaching their potential, consider introducing vocational qualifications and a high-quality delivery solution to your arsenal. Offer learners a chance at a fresh start, giving them an opportunity to build confidence, and see the positive impact it can have, not just on their vocational studies, but their wider education and beyond.
NCFE’s V Certs count towards Progress and Attainment 8 measures, and iAchieve offers endorsed resources for delivering them.