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Working towards a BTEC - part 1
Soon after starting Survival Skills, I decided to look for some kind of recognised qualification as a post-test instructor. Although I was already a CBT and DAS qualified instructor and 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. With the deadline approaching two months later, I presented the work only to discover my tutor had taken a holiday just as we 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. I was even less happy when several of the topics I'd submitted were rejected because they were motorcycle-specific - I was told they didn't have a tutor who knew anything about motorcycles. Hardly my problem, I thought. Eventually, I gathered a couple of points towards an NVQ, but as the experience hadn't been brilliant I reluctantly decided to drop it and save my money. Instead I turned to the BTEC in Advanced Motorcycle Instruction that was run by South Lincs Motorcycle Training. It turned out to be a far better choice than the Middlesex University course.
Both courses used an element of 'accreditation of prior learning' (APL) element for instructors with previous experience to replace traditional 'taught' courses. The idea is that you show the assessors that you have not only been teaching, but that you have used the courses you have taught as a learning experience for yourself to develop and improve both personal skills and the training being delivered. It avoids the need to spend weeks in the classroom being taught what you already know.
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, The main exhibit was to be a portfolio which still needed fleshing out with the hard evidence.
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 meant I could lay hands on old notes which I used to develop the syllabus, briefing notes at various stages of development, course details themselves including debriefing notes and so on, right up to the current 'in-use' stuff.
First up I assembled notes from the original instructor training course I attended in 1995. I added the DAS training course I personally wrote back in early 1997 for the basic training school to help instructors pass the Direct Access assessment. 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? An overflowing A4 box-file on which I couldn't actually shut the lid.
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, he 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.
Now all I had to do was copy those I needed to submit, and annotate them to explain what they were and why I was submitting them. Job done, I thought.
Ha. What seemed like a couple of hours work dragged on into weeks of sifting the box, and hunting for the original files on the PC and long-lost zip disks (remember them?). Sometimes I discovered they were formatted for an extinct version of a word processor it seemed no-one else had ever used. In some cases I was able to reformat and print a copy, but where the notes were handwritten or the PC version was long gone, I had to scan then print page-by-page 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 ....
Survival Skills Rider Training
...because it's a jungle out there
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