Describe your organisation and your role?


We’re called Firebrand and #Firebrand because we use it to describe someone able to make decisions quickly, act quickly, move quickly and be very agile. We use a lot of terminology from the digital skills industry. We do expect people to hit the ground running. We are quite a fast-paced company, if we decide to do something it’s agreed on and moved on really quickly.

I’ve had three jobs here at Firebrand. The first was as a learning mentor. I then became a subject matter expert which dealt with curriculum planning and looking after apprenticeship pathways. I looked after most of the Level three pathways for our apprentices. Currently I am Learning Support and Welfare Manager.

I identified a gap in the business. Our training is excellent but I felt that we had key account support looking after accounts which are big enterprises. I felt the learners didn’t have another option. Yes they have skills coaches and learning mentors. I wanted to provide a mechanism by which they could circumnavigate that really for them to get secondary help if they needed it. We weren’t doing a lot with SEND learners. Two years ago I spoke to my boss to say I wanted to set up a learning support department in the future. She said, we weren’t quite there with numbers but she would come back to me. Two years later she came back to say that if I wanted to still do that, it was mine to do.

We have two sides to the department. We deal with all the SEND reasonable adjustment, making sure learners are supported from a disability and learning difficulties point of view. Then we have the other side which is health wellbeing and welfare. So that’s safeguarding, it could be medical conditions, mental health. I’ve just been given another person in my department, Vijay who is working with the SEND learners and I’m breaking off to do more of the safeguarding.

How have you used WorldSkills UK Learning Resources in your work?


I was asked to work with quite a vibrant and energetic cohort for one of our key accounts. They’ve got a lovely work ethic. It’s an environment where they’re encouraged to work and play. They play while they’re selling. It’s a great environment but it doesn’t really foster professionalism. Now they’re having difficulties in bringing them back down and trying to develop their soft skills as well as their professional skills. What I’ve done is work through the mindset masterclass and developed a top and tail for that. So, I’ll do an introduction with them then we’re going to discuss the traits and the skills needed to stand out and really shine and be better at what they do. We’ll talk about professionalism about the level they’re doing it now and then they’re going to work through the masterclass on their own. Then we’re going to come back together and re-evaluate that and sign it off.

How are learners responding to the resources so far?


I can talk about how I used the last version of the Learning Lab which fitted in nicely with the areas I was teaching about really in the beginning. So, now we will work through and look at what they’re doing well and seeing how they could do better. So that’s our focus on excellence. We’ll get them to analyse themselves where they actually are and do some planning for the future. I’ve got the planning resources from the site. I have to say the resources are very good. Everything is there, the lesson plan, the evaluation resources. Through this we want to make apprentices more self-reliant in developing their learning. With this cohort they are a little bit naïve. It’s their first job out of school for most of them. They’re in this environment when they’re almost encouraged not to be professional. We’ll be trying to rein that in a little bit and say – looking beyond your apprenticeship, where are you likely to go? Some will stay where they are but others will move. And looking forward to a more longer term view of their career. Hopefully equipping them with the knowledge and the behavioural skills and the confidence they need to be able to look forward and go out and get other roles.

What advice might you have for other trainers thinking of using the Learning Lab?


It’s certainly easy to use. There’s nothing scary about it at all. I was able to manage the platform quite well such as assigning tasks and the mindset masterclass to them. That’s definitely easy to do. Most of the learning is self-guided. It’s quite a return on a minimalistic outlay of my time. Why reinvent the wheel? I could have sat there and developed the materials, but it’s all there the WorldSkills Learning Lab. It’s definitely time-saving and value-added. They will take at least two away from at least one of those ten psychological characteristics. I will ask that question at the end. There’s a couple of sessions weighted towards WorldSkills UK competitors but they’re relatable enough so we can talk about going up against 50 other people in an interview for instance. I think the content is a pretty good fit for what I wanted. Hopefully they’ll be able to work through and look inward and evaluate themselves, that’s what I’m hoping – that they become self-aware. If it works well after a couple of groups, we will look to offer it out to all our key accounts.

How have they benefited from WorldSkills UK's online resources?


As soon as they’re enrolled I ask them to complete a competitor agreement and then work through the masterclass series which does help the trainer, so it definitely does promote independence in learning.

Do you have any advice for other educators thinking about using these resources?


Break it down, get it up on screen and explain what it is. Otherwise it can be rather daunting. Teachers are all very busy, so use bitesize lunch and learn or four o’clock learn events. It’s a fabulous resource. I have a team meeting and always have a link to the Learning Lab, the week after we have a four o’clock teacher excellence session called practical tips on how to embed the Learning Lab into your curriculum.

What I’m trying to do is inspire the educators so I’m going to bring in an inspirational expert and will link in the Learning Lab and include it in email follow up.

December 2022, we launched the new Learning Lab. We'd love to know if you have any feedback on how we could improve our online learning platform.


I think we need an induction to the Learning Lab.

The WorldSkills UK CPD event was really good, I’ll be circulating copies of all the videos because lots of people didn’t attend due to work pressure which is heavier than we’ve ever known.

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