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AIM Qualification and Assessment Group

AIMVOCs - For all learners

Nicola Bate, External Verification Manager at AIM takes a look at AIMVOCs

Man learning horticultureFor many of us, the words’ deep dive’ can be associated with an exciting scuba dive in the Red Sea off Sharm El Sheikh. Unfortunately, if you work in education, those eight letters became the current buzz words thanks to the new OFSTED framework that took effect from 2019. Those two words can send any member of staff into a frenzied panic that the curriculum isn’t broad enough, doesn’t scaffold learning or show enough progression of skills, understanding and behaviours.

But how do we develop a wide curriculum for all learners? How do we show progression through the stages? How do we make sure all learners are fully accessing the curriculum? How can we step away from the results emphasis and ensure that curriculum offer has more importance than the exam factories? Are performance points always the solution to the curriculum plan?

An alternative curriculum 

For many learners they can access the main GCSE programmes for all subjects, the content through key stage 3 developing the skills and knowledge which prepare them for the rigours of the GCSE programmes. Yet every school we see for curriculum planning and quality assurance will tell us about their cohort of learners who can’t access the GCSE’s or who need alternative curriculum to support their whole development, so how do you ensure that these learners are being able to access a full and broad curriculum?

Employability skills

Here at AIM, our product development team were the trailblazers in developing our AIMVOC provision. Designed to allow learners to be able to access each vocational strand from Entry Level 1 through to Level 2 depending on their level of learning, they can also complete varying size of qualification at each level, from Award through to Diploma. Being able to build up achievement in incremental stages can help support intrinsic motivation for these learners, and support character education. 

  • Wide curriculum 
  • Progression of skills  
  • Relevant to the learners 
  • Accessible to all learners

AIMVOCs and the associated Employability qualifications provide opportunities for learners to develop their skills and knowledge. These qualifications have been developed in conjunction with employers, training providers and subject matter experts. This combination of knowledge and experience has resulted in a suite of qualifications which truly reflect the knowledge, skills and understanding which individuals require when employed. 

Vocational:  These qualifications have strong emphasis on vocational teaching, learning and assessment where learners develop a practical understanding of key competences based on fundamental underpinning knowledge. This approach enables centres to deliver dynamic and interactive teaching where role plays, scenarios and demonstrations are key teaching, learning and assessment tools.

Flexibility:  Centres also have the opportunity to determine the most appropriate content for a qualification. Using appropriate rules of combination, learners can engage with components above or below their primary level of study. This enables centres to select components which present both ‘stretch and challenge’ and add variety to a learner’s experience. 

Employability: Centres may also combine (subject to rules of combination criteria) components focused on developing employability skills. These include some of the ‘soft skills’ as well as being aimed at meeting the expectations of employers and are transferable from one operational role to another. The employability components not only cover job applications and interview techniques but also look at communication, literacy and numeracy, use of ICT. All of which can be integrated into core lessons and develop the learners with the workplace in mind.
Effective programme planning for multiple pathways: For many of the pathways the rules of combination mean that multiple pathways can complete some of the same components (utilising the employability aspects) and then the individual pathways can be followed for the industry experience. This makes it much easier to teach and assess as all of the cohort can be together for some aspects.

AIMVOC characteristics

  • Can be taught in education settings with minimal equipment and also in industry with specialist equipmen
  • Allow learners a progression route into employment and further learning
  • Can be taught at varying levels

Centres can design programmes which meet individual learners needs. Programmes which capture the learners’ interests. Programmes which can take account of additional learning needs or behavioural adaptations.
Varied and holistic assessment:  The external verification team love getting to see the evidence that is produced by learners on the programmes. The animal care pathway has included a learner with additional needs caring for the school guinea pig and a learner assisting in the local zoo feeding the crocodile.  The catering pathway has shown learners making scrambled eggs on toast in a SEND provision and Beef Bourgeon in the local catering college. Learners doing oil changes on cars and others servicing a pedal bike. They really can cater for all learners and facilities.

Achieving real results:  These programmes derived from AIMVOCs can provide a curriculum which offers relevant and useful skills, knowledge and behaviours for those learners for whom accessing a GCSE provision is going to be just too much of a challenge to achieve. It engages the learners who are at risk of becoming non-attenders. The practical skills allow those with poor literacy skills to learn and succeed. 
We might be biased, but we love these qualifications and so do lots of our centres. What’s not to love? A provision which builds on core skills and provides tasters and basic skills within industries is a great curriculum offer. Gatsby Benchmarks anyone? A provision which allows learners to progress from entry level 1 through to level 2 and which shows evidence of developing skills, knowledge and behaviours within the curriculum. 
Best of all, when it’s all done you get to come and see one of the amazing external verification team to show off all the activities and development that your learners have done.  And whilst having all this fun learning new skills the learners get a qualification too!

Help when you need it:  AIM also provide centres with personalised advice and planning support to help them get the best outcomes for their projects and services, and for their students, staff/learners.  We’re passionate about enabling the future for our learners. We know you are too. 
You get to meet one of us who will listen and offer advice, maybe suggest new ways of doing things, or even just ‘chew the fat’ around your burgeoning project or idea. Then we carry on actively helping, if that’s what you want. To be fair, there’s an element of what we also want in this – to feel the passion and interest for an individual’s or organisation’s project or activity – to share your belief too. It’s the reason to come to work. Belief. Engagement. Enabling the future with a wide and varied  curriculum.

You can find out more about AIMVOCs on our website.

By Nicola Bate, External Verification Manager at AIM with support from Sue Day.

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