Article summary: PETA engineering tutor Mike James has won the Student of the Year award for his studies at St Vincent College, which he successfully completed in June.
Mike attended the college for two years to complete his Level 5 CertEd in Further Education and Training.
Mike was put forward for the award by his college tutor in recognition of his hard work and how much he’d developed and improved academically over the duration of the course.
“When I started the course I found it quite challenging to express myself through my writing, but I put in a lot of work and my writing technique improved dramatically over the two years. I also helped some of my peers who were keen to receive some assistance, drawing upon my own experience to provide them with suggestions for improvements to their work.”
St Vincent College Lecturer, Julie North, visited PETA’s Engineering Centre in July to present Mike with the award. The presentation was a low key event due to COVID restrictions, but was attended by several other PETA engineering staff and saw Mike and Julie wearing graduation gowns for the presentation of the certificate.
The Level 5 CertEd in Further Education and Training is a higher education qualification, which Mike studied with the University of Portsmouth, through St Vincent College. The certificate covers several modules, focusing on different areas of teaching principles and how to incorporate these into everyday teaching.
“PETA has been incredibly supportive throughout my learning journey. As a training provider they want to deliver the very best provision they can so investing in and supporting staff through continuing professional development opportunities is a great way to do that. They’re setting a high standard for us which is great.”
Mike was not even halfway through the course when the first lockdown commenced and he had to quickly adapt to both studying and teaching in a different way. At the time he was studying blended learning as part of his course, which was helpful. Blended learning is the combination of face-to-face teaching with remote teaching, and synchronous and asynchronous delivery.
Mike, along with PETA engineering colleague Dr Althea de Souza, who was studying for her PGCE FE during the same timeframe, immediately put this learning into practice to best benefit their education as well as their teaching.
They utilised what they had learnt using PETA’s virtual learning environment, myPETA.online and produced a range of materials to support and engage with their learners, minimising the disruption to their education during the lockdowns.
Their tutor Julie used their teaching as an example of best practice, specifically for remote learning of subjects that include a practical element. She commented that by sharing their ideas, Althea and Mike had helped other educationalists to learn from their experiences.
Althea and Mike both teach on a range of PETA engineering apprenticeship programmes as well as corporate courses. Althea is mainly classroom based, focusing on subjects such as maths and science, while Mike, a welder by trade, leads on many of the more hands-on, workshop-based elements such as fabrication and welding, health and safety, CAD, hand fitting and abrasive wheels.
Mike has now embarked on a two-year top up course which will take his qualification to a BA (Hons) in Education (Level 6). This will involve a number of assignments and a 10,000-word dissertation. PETA will continue to support Mike, allowing him to use any spare time during the working week to study.
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