The Open University Foundation Degree in Primary Teaching and Learning and Diploma of Higher Education in Primary Teaching and Learning

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1 The Open University Foundation Degree in Primary Teaching and Learning and Diploma of Higher Education in Primary Teaching and Learning Frequently Asked Questions February 2013 This information is correct at the time of writing (February 2013) 1. What are Foundation Degrees? Foundation Degrees are work based learning degrees taught by colleges, universities and other training institutions working in partnership with employers. They are awarded by universities and provide the entry requirements you will need should you wish to progress to top-up the qualification by undertaking the final year of an honours degree. The study methods can be very flexible, which means that they are available to people already in work, those wishing to embark on a career change and to students who have completed Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A levels, Advanced Apprenticeships or NVQ3s). Formal qualifications are not always necessary for entry onto a Foundation Degree as an individual s existing experience, work-related achievements and their desire to learn can be taken into account. Foundation Degrees include a large element of work based learning. Foundation degrees are sector specific (primary education in this case) and are designed to give you academic knowledge and professional skills that are important for the work that you have chosen. In Scotland, the foundation degree is offered as the Diploma of Higher Education in Primary Teaching and Learning, which is compatible with the Scottish Higher Education Qualifications Framework. The component modules of the DipHE are exactly the same as for the foundation degree, and they can be studied in exactly the same way. All the information in this guide applies equally to both qualifications. 2. What is The Open University Foundation Degree in Primary Teaching and learning? The Open University, offers a Foundation Degree in Primary Teaching and Learning. This Degree is a part time qualification taught through a combination of the OU s long-established supported open learning and also work based learning. It includes modules that involve a combination of home study and practical activities to be undertaken in the workplace. 1

2 3. Who is the degree for? The Foundation Degree in Primary Teaching and Learning is suitable for support staff in primary schools who work with children in classrooms alongside teachers. This includes teaching assistants, higher level teaching assistants, classroom assistants, learning mentors, behaviour support assistants, cover supervisors and volunteers. You must be working in a primary school or related setting which follows the national curriculum for children in the age range (4 to 11 years). Examples of settings in which students might be working are: Primary schools Infant schools Junior schools Hospital schools Pupil referral units (PRUs) British Forces schools British International Schools (following the UK National Curriculum) Special schools which include primary-age children Early Years Foundation Stage units in primary schools 4. What is the degree about? The FD in Primary Teaching and Learning will develop the knowledge and skills required for supporting the learning of children in the primary age range. This degree is available in Scotland as a Diploma of Higher Education. Modules are studied at Levels 1 and 2, equivalent to the first two years of an honours degree. 5. What modules do I need to take? The Foundation Degree in Primary Teaching and Learning requires 240 credits of study and information on the standard pathway for the Foundation Degree is set out on the Study at the OU website: 6. What is work based learning? 2

3 Work based learning is an important component of all Foundation Degrees and recognises the importance of learning and theory which arises out of a student s work role. The work based learning modules within this Foundation Degree provide opportunities for combining academic study and practice. These modules offer students the opportunity to demonstrate their level of achievement in both of these dimensions of study and to gain academic credit for their work based experiences and writing. Students on the compulsory work based learning (E101 and E207) must be working within an appropriate setting with primary aged children (4 to 11 years), either in a paid or a voluntary role. This work must include a minimum of 5 hours per week of face-to-face work with children in a primary school setting. (see Point 3 above) In work based learning modules, the OU needs to make quality assurance checks that students are in suitable settings and have the permission of employers to study in their place of work. 7. How does work based learning work? The framework for the work based learning modules E101 Learning through enquiry in primary schools and E207 Subject knowledge and professional practice in primary schools includes: Module materials that systematically support students in linking their academic and work based knowledge; this includes module websites, which provide electronic versions of the module materials and access to module forums. The Foundation Degree provides a gradual approach to studying on-line E111 and E101 are partially on-line and E207 fully on-line. A tutor (also called an Associate Lecturer or AL) who will fulfil an academic role, including marking assignments and offering personal and study support. Support from the student s employer (normally a primary school) who will be asked to provide a mentor who will support a student through the work based learning modules 8. What is the nature of an employer s involvement? By employer we mean the person or institution which has employer insurance liability, which pays the student s wage/salary (if applicable), a national insurance contribution and gives the student benefits in accordance with a contract of employment or volunteer agreement most usually a primary school. Prior to registration, students are required to secure permission from their employer to participate in a module/qualification i.e. that they have successfully passed through selection and induction processes and that they are working in a face to face role supporting the learning of children in the primary age range. The employer is asked to confirm this and also that a suitable Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check or equivalent has been successfully completed. 3

4 9. Who can be a mentor? For the compulsory work based modules (i.e.e101 and E207) students must recruit a mentor - someone in the school who can offer support throughout the module. A mentor should be a senior or experienced member of staff, for example: an experienced class teacher, advanced skills teacher or chartered teacher a senior teaching assistant or HLTA with substantial experience, expertise and capacity to mentor a student in higher education a member of the Senior Management Team or staff member with a particular responsibility, e.g. SENCO or subject coordinator a member of staff who is responsible for CPD or supervising trainee teachers headteacher or deputy headteacher A mentor should be committed to work place learning and demonstrate interest in the student s personal and professional progress. A mentor meets regularly with the student and is the student s critical friend in the workplace. Mentors support the student in planning for the school based learning activities, listen to the student s ideas and provide supportive feedback. Mentors offer suggestions which enable the student to meet the organisational demands of the module. Mentors are asked to comment supportively on the student s activities and assignments. 10. The work based learning modules appear to have specific requirements and arrangements: where can I find out more? In the work based learning modules (E101 and E207) students are expected to organise and manage study in their place of work as well as study at home. We recognise that this is an additional responsibility and therefore require that a student has a mentor to help them with this. Students studying these modules must obtain permission from their employer to carry out study activities in the workplace. Students must be ready and willing to engage thoughtfully and critically with their professional practices and professional learning. You can find out more about the idea and practice of work based learning and foundation degrees at Work based learning with the OU: 4

5 11. What are the entry requirements for the degree? Ideally, students need to have experience of supporting children s learning in a primary school before committing to E111 and the Foundation Degree and undertaking the work based modules. During the work-related module (E111) and work based modules (E101 and E207) students must be working directly with children in the primary age range supporting their learning, in either a paid or voluntary capacity, in an appropriate setting (see list in point 3), for a minimum of 5 hours a week during the module. Students will need to gain permission from the setting for undertaking their studies. This will be done by completing a permission agreement form prior to registration. 12. I am a parent of a child in the primary age range can I study for the Foundation Degree? Yes, you can start your foundation degree studies with E111 provided you are working in a primary school (as a voluntary or paid teaching assistant) with children alongside teachers for a minimum of 5 hours a week. 13. Can I study for the Foundation Degree on the basis of previous experience in a primary school or must I be currently working in a relevant profession? Before studying the first module, E111, you should ideally have some recent primary school experience as an employed or volunteer teaching assistant but this is not essential. You will, however, need to be working in a primary school for a minimum of 5 hours a week whilst studying E111 and also E101 and E207. 5

6 14. What will the degree do for my career? This Foundation Degree has been developed in consultation with schools and local authorities and reflects the Common Core of Skills and Knowledge that is deemed necessary for those working with children in primary schools. A foundation degree does not confer Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), but it is equivalent to the first two years of an honours degree and you may decide to study further to gain QTS. If you are seeking higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) status (in England and Wales only), your study on the Foundation Degree will enable you to gather much of the necessary evidence to make an application for this status. 15. I already have HLTA status, can this count towards the Foundation Degree? HLTA status is a reflection of your current skills and competencies as a teaching assistant. A foundation degree is an academic qualification which enables you to develop your knowledge and understanding and apply this in practice. A foundation degree is a recognised, portable qualification which can help you to further or change your career. HLTA status can not count as academic credit, but it may enable you to study and carry out the work based activities in E101 and E207 with greater confidence and understanding. 16. How long will the Foundation Degree take? The Open University Foundation Degree in Primary Teaching and Learning is equivalent to two years full time study or 240 CATS credits. The Foundation Degree in Primary Teaching and Learning can take a minimum of 2 years and up to a maximum period of 7 years. We expect the vast majority of people will take at least 4 years to complete their Foundation Degree. Completing an honours degree will take most people at least another two years of part-time study as this requires a further 120 credit credits at Level 3 and may require other additional study, depending upon the honours degree that the student wishes to achieve. To complete an Open (or "general") degree, without honours, would take at least another year, as this requires a further 60 credits at Level 3 (see also point 29). 17. When do modules start? All the modules in the Foundation Degree start in October each year. 6

7 18. What will the degree cost? For information on fees and funding, please refer to the following website: Do I need support from my employer? In order to be able to complete the compulsory work based modules (E101 and E207) students must have permission from their employer to study, have a workplace mentor, and be able to write about their own practice within their work setting. Students need these elements in order to complete the work based parts of the Foundation Degree. 20. Do I need clearance from the Criminal Records Bureau? Students will need to meet the fit person criteria, including obtaining the necessary clearance relevant to the country in which they are working. It is the responsibility of the student and their employer to ensure that the student meets these requirements, rather than the OU. The student s employer will be required to confirm that suitable vetting procedures have been successfully completed as part of the Pre-Registration Agreement Form which the student and employer are required to complete as part of the registration procedures for the work based learning modules. Please refer to the guidance on the Childhood and Youth website for further information How is the degree assessed? For most modules students submit written tutor marked assignments (TMAs) for their continuous assessment and a project for their end of module assessment (EMA). In E212 (a Level 2 optional module) there is a formal examination at the end of the module. 22. Do I have to study the modules within the Foundation Degree in a particular order? The standard pathway for the Foundation Degree is set out on the Study at the OU website: 7

8 This pathway reflects the progression in skills, knowledge and understanding that has been incorporated into the three compulsory modules (i.e. E207 builds on E101; E101 builds on E111). 23. How do I study? The Open University uses a long established method of distance learning called supported open learning, designed to help people fit study around other commitments. All module materials are included in the student fee. These may include the main teaching text (available as printed materials and or/on-line) audio or video material in the form of a DVD and access to module web sites including electronic communication with a tutor and other students through discussion forums. From the start we will put students in touch with their nearest OU regional centre (we have 13 local offices around the UK). Students will be allocated a tutor (also known as Associate Lecturer or AL) with whom to talk by phone or face-to-face at tutorials and contact via or computer forums. Students will also have opportunities to meet and exchange ideas with other students. A student s Associate Lecturer will help students to keep their studies on track and to progress with confidence. 24. What do I need in order to study the degree? Students will need access to a computer which meets the relevant specification for each module as detailed under the module descriptions on the Study at the OU website. Some modules use DVDs, websites, forums, which provide students with another way to contact their tutor and also other students. To use our online services and to study on-line, you must have regular and reliable access to the internet. 25. Is there any work to do before the degree starts? You should gain permission from your school to carry out your studies. For the work based modules E101 and E207 you should identify someone in your school who can offer you informal support and mentoring. If you are new to OU study, you might find it helpful to undertake some preparatory reading and/or study prior to starting your first module in the qualification. Take a look at the two resources below as a starting point: 1. Getting started: an introduction to the OU and its study methods plus resources for students to start their study: Please note, this website is only available to students once they are registered. 8

9 2.Practise your study skills by working through The Good Study Guide by Andy Northedge. 26. I live outside England and Wales can I study for the Foundation Degree? The Foundation Degree is appropriate if students are working in English medium primary schools (or equivalent) that follow a UK National Curriculum in Europe, British Forces schools and British International Schools. In Scotland, the foundation degree is offered as the Diploma of Higher Education in Primary Teaching and Learning, which is compatible with the Scottish Higher Education Qualifications Framework. The component modules of the DipHE are exactly the same as for the foundation degree, and they can be studied in exactly the same way. All the information in this guide applies equally to both qualifications 27. How do I register for the Foundation Degree? Please contact the Student Registration and Enquiry Service on Can I use credit towards the degree from modules that I have previously completed elsewhere? A credit transfer scheme for the Foundation Degree in Primary Teaching and Learning is available. An APEL (accreditation of prior experiential learning) route for the work-related module E111 will be available from February This will enable those with substantial relevant prior experience to fast track through the first module in the Foundation Degree. You should choose an APEL route only if you are sufficiently well prepared for it. That is to say, you will already have at least three years substantial experience of supporting children s learning in primary schools, and you are likely to have studied for a qualification relevant to the work of teaching assistants e.g. an NVQ 2 or 3, a CACHE Level 2 Certificate for Teaching Assistants. 29. Can I progress to an Honours Degree from the Foundation Degree? Students can if they wish top up their Foundation Degree with a further 120 credits at level 3, to complete the BA (Hons) Childhood and Youth Studies. Students wishing to progress to the BA (Hons) Childhood and Youth Studies will need to ensure they select E212 as their optional level 2 module. Alternatively, they may wish to top up their Foundation Degree to an Open BA or BSc degree, with or without honours. 9

10 If students wish to progress to a similar Honours degree at another institution they will need to check with them in advance whether they will accept the credit gained with us. Decisions on credit transfer, and whether to accept credit gained with us, rest with the other institution, not The Open University. 30. Other qualifications in Primary Teaching and Learning The Open University also offers the following qualifications in Primary Teaching and Learning: Diploma of Higher Education in Primary Teaching and Learning (W02) (Scotland only) Certificate of Higher Education in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Primary Schools (T20) Certificate in Supporting Learning in Primary Schools (S11) Please click on the relevant links to find out more information about these qualifications. 10

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