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Record £360k grant awarded for research on improving vocational education

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A team of academics has been handed the biggest-ever grant in the field of technical and vocational education to research how to improve teaching standards in FE.

The £360,000 grant from the Gatsby Charitable Trust has been awarded to a University of Huddersfield research team investigating how to improve teaching and teacher training in FE colleges. The aim is to develop a sector-wide “intervention” designed to  raise standards in engineering, technology and vocational science subjects.

According to the university, the team will conduct a "large-scale investigation of current pedagogy and practice in training teachers of engineering, technology and vocational science subjects, principally in further education colleges".

Professor Kevin Orr will head the project, which will last for two years and involve "as many trainee teachers as possible". The intervention will include both online and physical resources, as well as guidance and instructions for teacher training. 

The Gatsby Foundation was established by British businessman and philanthropist David Sainsbury, and has awarded funds for research work in areas of science and the arts since its first grant of £50 was made to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in 1967.

“There is concern that the education and training of science, engineering and technical technicians is often inadequate or could be improved," Professor Orr said. "Our goal is to improve our understanding of how trainees in this area best learn what is valuable and what is useful for them, in order to inform better teacher education.

"Britain has long suffered from a spurious division between academic and vocational subjects, with the latter being given a lower status. It is a huge cultural issue."

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