The Development of Vocational Teachers: Teacher Educators’ Perspectives

LLAKES Research Seminar

4.15 to 5.45 pm, Thursday 3 December 2015, Room 639, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

Presenters: Ian Wilkie, Ann Lahiff and Janet Broad

Vocational Education and Training (VET) in England has been the focus of renewed interest from policy makers and is often seen as an alternative option to university for young people leaving school.  However, both the curriculum offer and the quality of the English VET learning experience has been subject to criticism. This presentation will capture three of the articles of the Spring 2015 special issue of the London Review of Education entitled Vocational Education and Training:  Educators’ perspectives on VET training. The presentation centres on the question of validity in relation to the VET curriculum and the importance of well-trained vocational teachers if the vision of a high quality vocational offer for young people is to become a reality.

Ian Wilkie will begin the presentation by reflecting on VET for the creative arts industry with a specific focus on the curriculum offer for actors. In the presentation he will question the validity of vocational acting training (VAT) in the UK and argue that it is not entirely fit for purpose. It will be argued that a case can be made for curriculum extension to include the kind of transferable, workplace-ready skills needed to maximise employment in a competitive labour market.

Turning attention to VET teachers, Ann Lahiff’s presentation will draw on case-study research that focused on teaching observations conducted as part of VET teachers’ initial teacher training. Drawing on a rich sociocultural tradition, Ann will focus on one phase of the observation: the post-observation feedback discussion. She will argue that this phase affords a learning space that is particularly important for vocational teachers who cross boundaries from vocational contexts to learn to become teachers. It will be argued that the space affords an opportunity for vocational teachers and their observers to collectively develop vocational practice as teachers in the workplace.

Janet Broad’s presentation will move beyond vocational teachers’ initial teacher education to consider the issue of Continued Professional Development (CPD) post qualification. Drawing upon research conducted during a period of compulsory CPD for FE teachers (2008-2012), Janet will focus on vocational teachers’ engagement with CPD activities that they found valuable in developing vocational and pedagogical expertise. The findings will be discussed through the lens of actor-network theory and will argue that for vocational teachers, “doing it for themselves”, enables teachers to access CPD that enables them to maintain and develop vocational and pedagogic expertise.  The presentation will offer explanations for why other activities, provided mainly by teachers’ employing colleges may not be beneficial for vocational teachers’ professional development.


Dr Ian Wilkie, a (still, sometimes) professional actor who works at UCL Institute of Education as pathway leader and tutor on the part-time, post compulsory PGCE pathway. His main research interest is in comedy and performance and he has published articles on comic performance and adult-child interaction, comedy and art, induced error learning in science teaching and Scottish comedy.  He assumed the role of editor of the Journal, Comedy Studies, in 2015. He has contributed a chapter to Chris Olsen’s forthcoming book Acting Comedy and provided contributions on stand-up and comedy and child directed speech to the 2015 edition of The Television Genre, edited by Glen Creeber. He also occasionally teaches at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and is a member of TAPRA’s popular performance group working party. He is an adviser on Brunel University’s Comedy Studies Research Unit and is a trustee of Flux Theatre Company.

Dr Ann Lahiff: Following a career as an FE college teacher, Ann moved onto teach on the Cert Ed/PGCE in colleges of FE and Universities in the South East of England. Ann joined UCL

Institute of Education in 2006 where she continued to teach on PGCE (FE) programmes; to observe practitioners in their work-based settings and to complete her PhD.  Ann also teaches across MA programmes in the Department of Education, Practice and Society and is the module leader for the MA module, Vocational Learning: Policy and Practice. She has contributed to LLAKES research projects which have focussed on Apprenticeships and Internships in the cultural and creative sector. She is currently involved in research at the new UCL Centre for Engineering Education.

Dr Janet Broad is a lecturer in education and professional development at UCL Institute of Education. After working in FE colleges as a vocational teacher and manager, Janet moved on to teaching new teachers entering FE in colleges and universities in the South East of England.  She joined the IOE in 2004 as a teacher educator. Janet was a project manager for LONCETT, one of 11 centres for excellence for teacher training tasked with improving the quality of teacher education for the FE sector.  Janet continues to be a teacher educator and is the pathway leader for the full-time pre-service PGCE for the post compulsory sector. Her research interests continue to be the development of teachers in the sector.

The seminar is free to attend, but prior registration would be helpful: to register, please contact   to book a place.