Kristen Henderson finds using external expert resources such as the Skills Development Hub complements her preferred style of teaching. “We run our courses by combining soft and practical skills into one. We’ve been using our own in-house mental programme for a few years. I think the mental health of students has changed drastically over the last few years though. We’ve also introduced external resources. When I saw the hub I thought “wow”, because it’s been set up in a way that actually makes sense for what we do practically, so it’s been great!
Ease is important for the best use of resources and Kristen finds the hub easy to navigate around, saying, “Initially, I’ve been looking at each of the resources and trying to tie it into our existing work.” Training the educators as part of CPD has been the first objective for Kristen and her colleagues. “We’ve been doing remote learning using the Hub, starting with the staff and educating them on using the resources to upskill themselves and then developing the students.”
The Hub was an integral part of a recent training session on sports psychology helping trainers understand where to start with the learners. This important foundation was essential, as Kristen says, “That’s usually the hardest part, getting the educators to understand the importance instilling these skills in the students themselves. We’ve also been looking at skills such as time management and neuroscience and using the hub with our students remotely by screensharing to view the resources.”
We are a female only college, and some students struggle with their confidence. I like the Hub because we can utilise the available resources and add both the skills and CPD content into our existing Mental Programme of teaching and learning materials.
“Our students been taking part in a lot of competitions. I was quite interested to find out more about WorldSkills UK and how to integrate it more. I thought this is perfect for us because it’s not just about the competitions. The Hub helps students to build up their resilience, mental ability and their proactiveness in learning, which is the most important thing.
“For me personally, watching the students attempt challenges, and sometimes fail for the first time, is an opportunity for me to learn how to help them more. Responding well to failure is interlinked with much of the content in the Hub and links soft skills to education and work better than others.
“The Hub resources are interactive and help with creating meaningful discussions. I think they engage the student because they’re dynamic, colourful and animated. It’s not just words!” This same level of engagement is shown in colleagues also and Kristen believes the Hub has sparked motivation in them which is much needed as she says, “Both teachers and students have been demotivated recently and there is frustration that students are not doing as much work as they could and the teachers feel like they are a failing a little bit because of that.
“Suddenly we are able to look at it from a different point of view, it’s like “look this is where you need to start”. Now we have started thinking about how to engage better, so it’s been helpful for me to spark that little bit of enthusiasm within the team.”
The breadth of content of the Hub is something that Kristen and her colleagues find particularly valuable in approaching complex issues. “It’s great that it covers a wide range of areas. You’ve got the embedded competition and excellence, but you’ve also got things like health and safety and stressful situations. So, you’re not solely dealing with an individual skill, you’re also reviewing the interlinked soft skills. For example, in recent years we’ve noticed students were experiencing panic issues in highly-stressed scenarios, or they get stressed with chaos at home and day-to-day life.
“We have found it difficult to tackle these ever-increasing issues, but the Hub does this with resources around building resilience and dealing with stressful situations. It helps educators to see through the eyes of the students. The examples and the videos of the competitors who speak about how the journey has helped them make you think you’re not going to collapse under it all and it is manageable with the right information and skills. So, from that perspective it has helped both the students and the educators.
As a hospitality college we don’t just focus on cooking but on many areas such as housekeeping, food and beverage, management, supervision. The topics in the Hub can help in any department, and for any cohort and can also be used in the classroom and link in with our practical sessions as well.