The Education Authority of the Cantonment of Zurich sponsored a study tour to Norwich for 18 vocational education teachers with a variety of specialisms from bicycle maintenance, confectionary and IT to community care. The purpose of the tour was for teachers to discover opportunities for their learners to experience English in the workplace and use that information to plan future possible trips to the UK.
After an introduction to best practice in English language learning in vocational education, the participants defined what they wanted to know about work placements, internships and training for the workplace in the UK in order to create a set of interview questions for business managers, workers, head teachers and school staff.
They visited the Lotus car factory as a case study for the kind of industry-specific tours that NILE organises. In order to find out how secondary schools in the UK prepare learners for the workplace, they visited Ormiston Victory Academy . Along with a tour of the school, they observed three different vocation-specific classes: product design, craft and design and catering. They were impressed with the way the school was organised and how efficiently the tour ran. They also picked up a lot of ideas from the classroom observations for their own classes.
After an example social programme trip to Cambridge, they visited local businesses to build relationships for potential placements. These were defined by subject specialism and included individuals and small groups going to drop-in-visits to local bicycle shops, and meetings with Norse Assisted Living, InTouch Systems (an IT systems provider), Construction Training Specialists and the Norfolk and Norwich Festival organisers .
The highlight of the tour was the visit to City College Norwich where heads of three different departments: construction, hospitality and engineering gave us in-depth insight into how vocational education bridges government policy and industry needs. Their tour of the wonderful facilities at City College was very impressive and our meal at the Debut restaurant: a training restaurant for all roles in the hospitality industry was delicious and informative.
Our Friday afternoon wrap-up session looked at what they have seen and heard and what the implications of their findings were for their teaching and future trips with students. We then made action plans to follow up on this trip when they returned to Zurich.
Comments from course participants included:
“It was a good and intensive week.”
“The aim was to promote further projects and the participants are quite willing to do so.”
“We now have a deeper insight into the British vocational education system.”
“I believe it could really work out and we should be able to place some students in and around Norwich.”
“NILE staff were so friendly and helpful.”