New College Durham
Colin Galley is Programme Leader for Vocational Access L1 IT, and an Inclusive Skills North East Coordinator at New College Durham. He helps lead our Inclusive Skills competitions, ensuring learners with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are supported by WorldSkills UK Competitions.
Why did you choose to get involved in skills competition activity?
I got involved to develop competitions as a way of encouraging participation and alternative ways of delivering the curriculum, and to give students an awareness of possible employment. This is to show how important employment skills are and how they can work on developing these skills through competition activities. It is also a way to showcase the skills and qualities SEND learners have towards being work-ready and to increase evidence of transferable skills needed for life and work.
What practical things do you do to embed skills competition activity into the curriculum?
Over the last four years I have been working with the National Focus group for Inclusive Skills and a regional focus group to embed competition activity in the curriculum. We do this by ensuring our regional-level competitions embed not only maths and English but also work-ready skills, resilience, ‘Preparing for Adulthood’ themes - to giving opportunities for learners to showcase their skills to employers.
How do you ensure equality of opportunity when selecting participants for your competitions?
From the beginning this has been at the heart of everything we do. We have taken away a single-level tiered competition and I have been working on a differentiated model where we can have learners compete at a range of different levels based on skills and ability not just educational levels such as functional skills. We are trying to be as inclusive as possible and develop the competitions to allow flexibility and encourage participation. My work at a local level helps both teachers and students taking part in Competitions activity, supporting them as they progress to national level.
What have been the main challenges you encountered in relation to organising and delivering skills competition activity?
The main challenges have been the development of a suite of competitions to allow as many people to enter as possible with a range of different types, not just limiting to WorldSkills UK categories. We have been actively working to try and get more employers on board to help write and judge the competitions with the goal of getting more of our learners into employment. Getting other organisations on board has also been a challenge and we are starting to get more educational establishments and training providers to join in the competition activity we are doing in the North East region.
How have you overcome these challenges?
To get more people engaged I have been to as many regional and national meetings as I can to promote the benefits of competitions from Preparing for Adulthood regional focus groups to SEND conferences. I have been using local networks to get employers to engage in the competition activities.
How can WorldSkills UK Inclusive Skills Competitions help your learners?
Find out how these competitions support SEND students.