What is your name, job title and place of work?
Kate Moe-Geke, liaison officer, tutor and assessor for childcare and teaching assistants (apprenticeships) at the Training Trust.
How long have you held your current role, and what other jobs did you have before?
I have been in my current role for seven years and before that was an assessor and tutor (childcare).
How – and why – did you first start working in further education?
I had taken a sabbatical from work after my third child was born and wanted a more work/life balance to accommodate my family responsibilities. I applied for funding and studied childcare completing my level 3 then my assessors’ award. As it was European funded, I was very fortunate to travel to East Germany and Dublin to study their approaches to childcare. Once I had returned to work, I went on to complete my Certificate for Education so that I could also start teaching. For the first several years, I worked freelance so that I could manage my own diary appointments around my family commitments. I have now been teaching/assessing childcare for 23 years. Training Trust has been my third employer since I switched from freelance to permanent contracts.
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Briefly describe what a day at work looks like for you...
My days are varied and can include any of the following:
- visiting learners in their workplace to assess their practice and complete a progress review;
- interviewing new applicants;
- discussing with employers their vacancies and progress of their current apprentices;
- teaching level 2 and level 3 childcare and level 3 teaching assistants;
- marking coursework and giving feedback;
- researching and creating resources for lesson plans;
- ensuring all employer and learner files are updated and any relevant paperwork is completed.
During the lockdowns, teaching went online and I needed to become proficient at adapting my lesson plans and delivery. It was very impressive how well the learners managed to maintain progress and achievement.
What motivates you in your workplace?
My motivation is definitely supporting each learner to complete their qualification and progress; I have a lot of pride in their achievements. I now have employers who were originally my apprentice!
Share an anecdote about a student or learner who has inspired you...
There have been many learners who have shone and really worked hard to achieve their goals. I always feel very privileged to have been part of their journey. Recently I had a TA apprentice who had originally arrived as a 14 year old in the UK from Somalia as a refugee and spoke no English. She is now doing a university degree.
Do you enjoy working in FE? And if so, why?
I do enjoy working in FE and seeing the learners’ progress within their careers and, particularly with many of the younger learners who leave school to start an apprenticeship, to see them mature and flourish.
What do you see as the big challenges for the FE sector in the next few years?
FE changes according to current governments, for example the previous Labour government championing university degrees. Apprenticeships have long been seen as the “poor cousin” to education and have struggled to overcome the image of being mainly for vocational subjects and for learners who lack academic qualities. Schools still tend to heavily promote colleges or sixth form routes for students rather than apprenticeships. In the light of the pandemic and the economic devastation lockdowns have had on employment now, more than ever, apprenticeships can really make a much more positive contribution to building up skills and qualifications for the workforce and employers.
As a small independent training provider, we are often in a David/Goliath competition to promote ourselves up against the larger colleges. However, being a smaller ITP means we can really focus on quality and not just quantity. Our leaners really value the time and support we can offer each of them individually and know that we really care about each of their personal achievements.
What do you think our FE sector will look like in 30 years’ time?
I personally would like to see Ofsted in a more supporting role, rather than an organisation that seems determined to undermine ITP’s. We need more support and guidance when things are identified as requiring improvement.
I also disagree with apprenticeships being employer led. I feel that training providers should be the one driving decisions as we have worked with apprenticeships for years and are more informed of how they should be run, for example a lot of money has been spent developing standards by “industry experts” however, in some cases the standards aren’t fit for purpose.
- IFATE should insist on there being more than one EPAO for a more competitive rate for employers and providers. We are currently being charged shockingly high rates for end point assessments.
- Scrap T levels, promote apprenticeships
- Too many qualifications for same industry (CACHE is a prime example of this) - why isn’t there just one route for all?
If you were made apprenticeships and skills minister, what is the first thing you’d introduce or change?
The first thing I would change if apprenticeship and skills minister would be the red tape that’s choking the life out of ITPs with regards to funding and standards. We have also been overlooked when new funding schemes have been offered (eg. recently the bootcamp free courses). It’s important to ensure that all learners are given good quality training so please recognise the good providers (big as well as small) and encourage them to grow and thrive.