BTEC part 1

Soon after starting Survival Skills, I decided to look for some kind of recognised qualification as an instructor. Although I have a Masters degree in a science, something more relevant would look good on the CV, I thought. The best bet at the time looked to be a Driver Education course at Middlesex University, at least partly because it had a distance learning option, and secondly because it could be extended through NVQ to degree, master and even PhD level.

After signing on and parting with the relevant amount of cash, my first modules arrived in the autumn. I knuckled down and got stuck into the work. A couple of months later, I presented the work to the tutor, to discover she'd taken a holiday just when all the students were supposed to be submitting the work. I was told it would now be marked too late to move onto the second module in the spring. I wasn't particularly happy about that, and less so when several of the areas I'd submitted were rejected because they were motorcycle-specific - I was told they didn't have a tutor who knew anything about motorcycles. Hmm.

Eventually, I gathered a couple of points towards an NVQ, but the experience hadn't been a brilliant one so I reluctantly decided to drop it and save my money. A few years later, I decided to have another crack at my personal development as a tutor and looked into the BTEC in Advanced Motorcycle Instruction that was run by South Lincs Motorcycle Training.

It was a good choice to replace the appallingly badly organised Middlesex University course.

Both courses use an "accreditation of prior learning" (APL) element for instructors with previous experience to replace a traditional "taught" course. The idea is that you show the assessors that you have not only been teaching riding skills, but that you have used the courses you have taught as a learning experience for yourself to develop and improve your own skills and the training you deliver, thus avoiding the need to spend weeks in the classroom being taught what you already know. For those with limited or no experience, the classroom option is available, by the way.

The required format for the BTEC was slightly different from the Middx course. This meant the original submission I had made to Middx was a useful background document, but still needed the fleshing out with the hard evidence. The main exhibit for the defence was to be a portfolio profiling the kind of things they want to see. 

Sounds easy? Yes, at first sight. Easy enough to provide photocopies of my driving licence and CBT card. Not too difficult to provide copies of my current training notes. But to demonstrate learning?

Fortunately I'm one of those people who NEVER throws anything away. That does mean the office is knee deep in paperwork and old bike magazines but it also means I had a fighting chance of finding some of the old training notes, course details, briefing notes, debriefing notes and so on, as well as the upto date stuff.

First up I assembled notes from my instructor training course. I added the instructor training course I wrote for the basic training school I was working for to help our instructors pass the Direct Access assessment back in early 1997. I had a large pile of notes which became the drafts, redrafts, final versions and revised final versions of my advanced training syllabus itself. I had the same stacks of papers showing the various stages of development of the course handouts that go to the trainees. I added copies of other training materials such as training aids and assessment sheets. I added items of interest from from the website and motorcycle forums. I added original drafts and photocopies of items that appeared in the various magazines I have had articles published in. Finally, I added selected emails from trainees requesting courses and the follow up written debriefs that are provided with the courses.

The result was a large and overflowing A4 box-file on which I couldn't actually shut the lid.

Once assembled, I made a date for an interview to determine whether the portfolio was up to the job and to see if I could justify the learning I was claiming. It wasn't quite the grilling I had expected - Malcolm Palmer popped over to meet me in Oxford and spent a long evening chatting informally over several mugs of tea and a plate of fish and chips, whilst going piece by piece through the file. However, it was thorough - around 4 hours later (too late for a quick pint) Malcom left me with a list of what he would like included and copied for the formal submission for APL.

Job done, I thought. Ha. 

Now I had to sift those original documents, copy those I needed to submit, and annotate them to explain what they were and why I was submitting them. What seemed like a couple of hours work dragged into weeks of hunting for the original files on the PC and long lost back up zip disks, discovering they were formatted for an extinct version of a word processor noone else ever used and reformatting them to print a readable copy, or where the notes were handwritten or the PC version was long gone, scanning and printing page by page a copy for the portfolio.

Eventually, everything was neatly placed in a large red ring binder and dropped off to Malcolm the evening before the second part of the APL assessment.

.... to be continued ....