Marcus Sainsbury, Head of Inclusion at Croesyceiliog School in Cwmbran, South Wales spoke to Amanda Madine, Director at iAchieve, about using iAchieve Wales as an online learning solution to offer vocational courses across Years 9,10 and 11.
Marcus explained how the learning platform had started off as an intervention tool, but is now used much more widely to support a whole range of learners to achieve an additional qualification. He said, “iAchieve lends itself really nicely to learners that don’t necessarily do well in a traditional classroom learning environment. We first used it in our intervention programme because it’s really clear to learners what they have to do. Some of our learners have anxiety problems and don’t come into school – we’ve been able to tutor them through iAchieve so that they’re not missing out.”
Once Croesyceiliog school realised that the iAchieve method was having such a positive impact as an intervention, they decided to roll it out to a much larger group of learners, and started running the NCFE Level 2 Certificate in Equality and Diversity using iAchieve, with all different year groups.
The content of the Equality and Diversity course has helped to change attitudes of the learners at Croesyceiliog school. Marcus told Amanda, “sometimes young people say things without even fully understanding what they’ve said. This means they don’t necessarily recognise that what they’ve said could be offensive or hurtful to somebody, and this course has allowed us to challenge this. Teachers have got the opportunity now through iAchieve and Equality and Diversity to explore what words mean, explain their definitions, and address issues. In class we look at defining words and their meanings”.
iAchieve Wales provides a flexible learning and teaching package which can be used for a multitude of situations. High achieving learners at Croesyceiliog School study a full Religious Studies course, and then study Equality and Diversity alongside it. Marcus talked about how E&D works really nicely as an addition to RS for these learners. “We have them really looking at their own community, they make statistical comparisons between the different demographics in Cwmbran and Newport, and they have to do their own research. It helps them develop their analytical and research skills”.
Equally, Marcus confirmed that Equality and Diversity is fantastic for lower attaining students as well, who study it once they’ve covered all the mandatory RS curriculum. Marcus explained that the qualification is relevant for everybody; “we have learners that want to join the Fire Service or Police Force when they leave school. We believe this qualification is going to give them a head start. When they are asked why a diverse workforce is beneficial, they’re going to be prepared, not only with an answer, but with an understanding.”
Marcus recounted a particularly inspiring story about two Year 11 boys, who in the words of their teachers, “wouldn’t really engage with anything” until they were given an iAchieve account and started working independently through Equality and Diversity. He said that the two boys, went home over half term and completed an entire unit! This gave the learners confidence and spurred them on to continue with the course, which they completed, and achieved the equivalent of 2 B grade GCSEs for. Marcus reiterated how the iAchieve platform and its flexibility, has really supported inclusion, not only on site, but also for learners who are home based.