FAQ Level 4 Certificate in Social Purpose Education and Training

Level 4 Certificate in Social Purpose Education and Training

Why ‘Social Purpose’?

Social Purpose Education is at the heart of all we do.  Northern College’s mission is “the transformation of individuals and communities” and we believe profoundly in the power of ‘CHANGE’ – the power individuals have to change their lives and the world around them.  We begin every course with values work:  what are YOUR values and how do they play out in your practice?  The social purpose philosophy runs all the way through.  We are not at home to the sausage-factory model of education!

Our Award is designed to appeal to people who might identify themselves as teaching – or wanting to teach – for a social purpose. What that means is that you have a desire to use your skills to help people change their world, in some way. So you will be studying alongside a whole group of people who have some shared values and experiences.

A model of Social Purpose Education
A model of Social Purpose Education

How long does the course last?

Usually the course runs for ten days (60 hours class time) in two-day residential blocks.  We ask you to commit to a single cohort and not switch about, to help nurture an effective group dynamic.  The deadline for your work is several weeks after the end of the course.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning means there is a requirement to spend (your own) time online in our Yammer space.  Yammer is a professional social media network – it looks a little bit like Facebook but is private.  You will also produce an e-portfolio, using a Google site.  These words may mean little to you at the moment, but there is lots of help and support, we promise!  You will also be part of an extended Community of Praxis across Yammer, Twitter, Facebook, this blog and elsewhere online and for real, including face-to-face professional development days and our annual Teach Different Conference.  In 2016, this will take place at The Northern College on Friday 1st July (fee £20).

Do I need to be a computer expert?

No! You need a basic level of computer confidence, and access to a laptop, tablet or other home computer (you are very welcome to study in our beautiful library too).  If you are nervous even sending an email, this is not the course for you at the moment. There are some fabulous ‘Computers for the Terrified’ type courses at Northern College or in communities (run by the WEA or local authority) and it would be worth booking on one of those and coming back to us when you are ready.

Why do you insist on blended learning?

The future is now – see The FELTAG Report if you need convincing.  Digital literacy is part of a teacher’s skills-set (see the Education and Training Foundation Professional Standards for teachers of adults).  We wouldn’t be doing you any favours if we swerved this responsibility.  We also absolutely believe in the power of social purpose social media and in learning to keep yourself safe online.

Who is the Digital Nurse and what is ‘digital resilience’?

The digital nurse is our esteemed colleague Tom Monaghan, one of the course tutors, whose role is to support any one (including the rest of the team) to be more digitally resilient – this means believing in your own capability to plough on through digital issues, such as lost passwords and new tech.  We all do a bit of digital nursing and we’ve found it works well – see what we learned last year in our Unfolding the Arms (The FAB Project) 2015.

What does the course cost?

The fee is £1714 and this includes accommodation if you want it (you don’t have to).  Meals and drinks are very reasonably priced and we also have a subsidised Costa Cafe during weekdays, with lovely squashy chairs. The course is fundable via a 24+ Loan – for details of how to apply please contact our colleague Beth Hutchinson in Student Services b.hutchinson@northern.ac.uk.  If you want to book additional accommodation (the night before the course, for example), it’s available to you at £12.50 a night room only.  Pay by cheque, cash or card when you arrive. Even better if your employer is paying for the course – we can invoice them if you bring a letter of authorisation.

Do I have to stay overnight?

No but we recommend that you do. The College is a beautiful learning environment and by staying residentially you can take full advantage of the learning resources here, including our gorgeous Library.

We understand that this is not possible for everyone, so we also offer non-residential places. You are very welcome to stay for a (reasonably priced and very tasty) evening meal and study in the Library in the evening. If you arrive early (by 9am) you can have breakfast too.

What are the dates and how do I apply?

Find out the course dates and apply online here.

Does this course lead to a qualification?

Yes, if you successfully complete the course and submit an e-portfolio which meets the requirements you will be awarded the City and Guilds Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training.

What does Level 4 mean?

For Level 4, you need to be applying what you learn to your own practice and offering critical reflection or analysis of the concepts. We encourage you to read about the theories underpinning the subject and show evidence of this by referencing books and journals in the work you submit for assessment. We give you loads of support with this and whilst the additional reading is compulsory at this level we make sure it is interesting!

What is there to do in an evening?

At any time of year, we wouldn’t be surprised if you wanted to spend all your time outdoors in our glorious gardens. However, there are things to do inside too.

The Home Farm complex hosts a café bar and our Student Activities Co-ordinator likes to know who is coming in, so that she can organise entertainment for you – quizzes, karaoke, treasure hunts, folk nights are some of the many activities on offer at different times. The Blue Room operates as a Costa café during the day.

The Library is generally open until 8pm and the ICT Study Rooms until 10pm. There are TV rooms in all the accommodation areas.

And – of course – you can get your homework done…

What sort of homework will I have?

We expect that you will continue to work on your portfolio each evening and when you are not at College. We ask you to complete a reflective journal for each module, in addition to the theory and practical assignments set by City and Guilds. You will be given a deadline some weeks after the end of the course to complete your portfolio and hand it in.

The reflective journal is a significant element of the teacher training courses and you are required to have 30 hours teaching in your own practice.  We define this very broadly and volunteer hours are completely acceptable.  If you’ve got any worries or queries about this, please email us at teachnorthern@gmail.com

How much work will I have to do at home?

You will have to make significant commitment to doing some work ‘back at the ranch’ but if you are staying residentially you will be able to get much of your work done whilst you are in College.

This is an intensive course, which, with the additional of the University’s APEL bridging unit over the summer, gives you the equivalent of Year 1 Cert Ed/PGCE.  We only offer it as a catch-up, for those who missed the September start of Cert Ed/PGCE.  This is because it is a much less reflexive, easeful experience than beginning the Cert Ed in Year 1.  Please see Certs Level 4 Comparison October 2015 to decide upon the best route for you – and of course we’re always happy to give information, advice and guidance, just email us at teachnorthern@gmail.com

Do I have to do the assessment? Can’t I just come to class and find out what I need to know?

You must do the assessment. We are judged by Ofsted on the number of people who achieve the qualification and we are funded on this basis too (your fee reflects only a fraction of the real cost). We also don’t want you not to succeed because that feels rubbish all round.  If you don’t feel quite ready for this challenge, you may wish to come on our Short Courses first, perhaps a Confidence Building or Presentation Skills course, or an ICT for Beginners course.

If anything is worrying you, we will support you. We want to help you get the best out of yourself. What we’ve learned over the years is that everyone who tries, passes.

I have a disability and I am worried about how I’ll cope.

We understand this and that’s why we have an Additional Learning Support Team to help you if you have a physical, mental or learning disability. There is a space on your application form for you to tell us if you have a disability. You will then be contacted by David Pedley our Additional Learning Support Co-ordinator, and together you’ll come up with the best plan of support for you. Remember, we can only help you if you let us know how things are for you. If you want to talk with David before applying, you can email him on dpedley@northern.ac.uk

Can I bring my children to Northern College?

Yes, if you book them into the Children’s Centre well in advance (availability sometimes depends on the age of the child). Tell us on your application form about your children and we will do our best to make sure there is a place for them – we’ll ring you if there is anything we are unsure about or if we are full. We are sorry that we can’t take children under six months old and places for the under 2s are very limited. School aged children are welcome at weekends or during school holiday times, up to 11 years old.  Contact Joanne at the Children’s Centre for fee details and if you want to come up and visit beforehand (01226 776000) or j.bell@northern.ac.uk

What will the course qualify me for?

The course will equip you with confidence and the essential skills of teaching and, with the addition of the University’s APEL bridging unit over the summer, it offers a route to Year 2 of the full teaching qualification, Cert Ed/PGCE. It is recognised by employers and funders. We run a full Teacher Education programme at Northern College for people who are teaching adults for a social purpose, ie in the community, voluntary and trade union sectors (Cert Ed/PGCE/BA Education and Professional Development – all Awards of the University of Huddersfield). During the course we’ll explore possible next steps with you.

I’ve heard that you can’t go to Northern College if you’ve got a degree.

Certain courses at Northern College are especially designed for people with few or no formal qualifications but the Teacher Education courses do not come into this category. We understand that people change direction in their lives. Your previous qualifications are not a problem.  Equally, you do not have to have any qualifications to be accepted for the Level 3 Award in Education, just a desire to explore how to teach.

Where is Northern College?

We are located just outside Barnsley in South Yorkshire, near the village of Dodworth, a few miles from both Junctions 36 and 37 of the M1.

Look here for directions (if you are viewing this electronically), look us up on our website www.northern.ac.uk or ring the College on 01226 776000 if you are uncertain about public transport options.

Please be careful to look for the signs to Northern College once you get very close, rather than ‘Wentworth Castle’ – especially if you are using Sat Nav – you may end up in the wrong car park and it’s a long walk round!

What do I need to do next?

If you have any more questions, please email the team at teachnorthern@gmail.com. You may have already had contact with our course administrator Lisa Purcell, who will also do her very best to help you. Lisa is available on 01226 776000 or email her l.purcell@northern.ac.uk

If you’re happy and want to go for it, complete an application online (see above).  We will contact you a few weeks before the start of the course to offer you a place. If we can’t offer you a place, we will tell you why.

We look forward to meeting you!

The Northern College Teacher Education Team

Paul Gibson, Katy Henderson, Alison Longden, Tom Monaghan, Lou Mycroft, Lisa Purcell, Kay Sidebottom, Vicky Ward, Jill Wilkens, Louise Watson


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