“The power of vocational education”: Kevin Rumary on the benefits of choosing vocational qualifications
We recently hosted an event celebrating the power of vocational education for 14-16-year-old pupils, as well as the launch of our new V Cert technical awards. To mark the occasion, we heard from a fantastic range of speakers, including Rachel Butler, our 14-16 Product Manager; Abdullah Dangor, Head of Physical Education at Eden Boys’ School; some inspiring V Cert pupils from Ormiston Rivers Academy; and Kevin Rumary, Associate Assistant Principal at Ormiston Rivers Academy and Doctoral Researcher.
Kevin – who specialises in looking closely at the world of vocational education, including how people perceive it and how learners experience it – presented an excellent session on The Power of Vocational Education. Here, we’ve summarised some of the key points from his impactful session.
Vocational qualifications help students to follow their interests
In his presentation, Kevin outlined that one of the most beneficial elements of offering vocational qualifications is allowing pupils to follow their passions:
“As a school, we [Ormiston Rivers Academy] deliver a number of NCFE qualifications, and our portfolio of qualifications is really designed to bring out the best in our pupils so that they can follow their interests quite keenly.
“It’s an opportunity to follow a passion. what they want to do. And so, when we see this wide plethora of options available to them – including drama, dance, music, engineering, and sport – we’re offering the things that have actually piqued their interest and that they want to do when they grow up.”
They also build well-rounded, resourceful members of society
Kevin also went on to explain how vocational learning goes beyond shaping the cognitive, to shaping well-rounded members of society, who are prepared for the world of work with the essential skills they’ll need to thrive:
“Industry demands people that are work-ready, and that they have the technical skills and soft skills required. Education in terms of vocation is hard on our pupils, because we’re not just addressing cognitive development, we are addressing something much more – we are shaping people to become useful members of society, with the work, attitudes, knowledge and social skills to boot.”
“As an example, I teach motor vehicle technology and have my students in the garage. We don’t just sit and learn how to take a car apart and put it back together again. We learn about:
- How to talk to customers
- How other people in the trade talk to each other
- How to understand the needs of other people in the same industry as ourselves.
“And so aside from learning the cognitive elements and the theory, and how to pass the exams, you also learn, for example, how to be honest and how to communicate when you’re not going to meet deadlines.”
Kevin says that all of these essential skills form a crucial part of who we are and what we do as people. Vocational is more than just the provision of knowledge and facts – it’s about how to be “effective, great, honest, reliable people that know how to solve problems, who are self-starting.”
Be wary of unfounded assumptions
Kevin also addressed some of the misconceptions around vocational qualification options, as well as the importance of not making assumptions about vocational and technical opportunities:
“It’s important not to make assumptions, such as “they’re doing better because it’s easier”. If you’ve been around vocational qualifications for quite a while now, you’ll know the rigour that is going into them– especially as new versions continue to be released [so frequently]. They are not the same as they were 10, 15 or 20 years ago. I know that they can challenge and exceed rigour from GCSE qualifications, with the way that everything is assessed.”
Kevin went on to detail an example from his own school, where pupils were split into a GCSE and a vocational qualification in Food and Cookery. Although they expected to see better results in the former group, this didn’t happen – instead, those who took on the vocational course outperformed the GCSE cohort in net results.
Watch our Power of Vocational Education event on our YouTube channel to see Kevin Rumary’s session in full. You can also learn more about the vocational qualifications we offer for KS4 here.