Examine what is meant by employability and critically evaluate how students, universities and employers engage with it
In this modern world, the development of science and technology has reached a great achievement and influenced almost all aspects of human life. It influences not only aspects relate to personal life, but also in broader areas such as education and workplace. In the education, wide access of student to university education influences their chance to get jobs. There is a high competition between them for limited jobs. In the workplace sectors, employers’ employ requirements for their employee candidates. The employers tend to believe that most of university graduates do not have good skills for a certain position. Moreover, the employers also directed critic to university as the university did not provide graduates who are ready to work.. As a result, there will be a high competition among employees, especially fresh graduates who will enter the workplace for the first time. Based on these facts, this essay will critically evaluate how universities, students and employers engage with employability and discuss the difficulties in defining this term accurately. Firstly, it will investigate how the different meanings of employability effect stakeholder engagement. Secondly, it will consider how graduates engage with employability and strategy that can they performed to increase their engagement. The last is stakeholders’ engagements especially in increasing graduates’ employability.
The employees’ skills and ability to access the workplace or to be employed is what people generally understand as employability. However, according to some scholars, employability is much more complex than what people generally perceive about it and its definition should not be simplified (Harvey 2005, Holmes 2006; Rae 2007 cited Tymon 2013). An aspect of employability’s complexities is because it cannot be seen from a single perspective, especially in the issue of developing employability. Hugh Jones, Sutherland, and Cross (2006 cited in Tymon 2013) argue that in terms of developing employability, there are three different perspectives that should be incorporated i.e. perspectives of the employers, the students, and the higher education institution.
When discussing employability and graduates, the main attention will be directed to the concept of graduates’ readiness to access workplaces after their university education. The university graduates are commonly considered as students who have acquired basic skills and knowledge that employers require in a workplace (Clarke 2017). However, in reality, most of the graduates do not have good knowledge and skills to enter the workplace. Cumming (2010 cited in Tymon 2013) believes that what prevents graduates to effectively participate in the workplace is because they lack of appropriate skills, attitudes and characters required for a profession.
In line with this, Archer and Davison (2008 cited in Tymon) argue that although university graduates tend to have good qualifications, but they are lacking soft skills and qualities which are required by nowadays employers’ type. One of graduates’ important soft skills needed by employers is communication skill. Although the graduates’ communication skill is considered as the most important skill in the workplace, it could only meet low employers’ satisfaction. Furthermore, Clark (2017) argues that industry and employer markets tend to believe that university qualification will not be enough for graduates’ employability and could not guarantee employment. Dwesini’s (2017) study finding also support the claim above. She concludes that to improve graduates’ employability chances, the students should be involved in different practical employment experiences managed by the university. However, Tymon (2013) argues that university programs to improve students’ personal skills would not contribute a lot to develop students’ employability. It is because personal skills are complex areas and could only be personally developed by students.
However, the university engagement is not effective. They need to collaborate and develop some programs and activities with employers in preparing students for the workplaces (De La Harpe, Radloff, and Wyber 2000; Heaton, McCracken, and Harrison 2008 cited in Tymon 2013). Jackson and Wilton (2017) state that through the university students will be able to develop their various skills and competencies for greater employment opportunities. Furthermore, Kaufman
Role of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator
The role of the special educational needs and disabilities co-ordinator (SENDCo) has changed dramatically in my opinion since taking on this role in September 2018. As I meet other professionals on various courses, I am meeting individuals who, although we share the same job titles, have differing experiences and struggles to me. I feel that I am quite well supported within my school, which I hope in time will assist me on my journey of driving improvement of outcomes for our pupils with SEND. I am quite fortunate that I have become a member of my school’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT), as I am aware that some SENDCos are not part of theirs. Although there is no legislation that insists SENDCos are part of SLT, the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Code of Practice (CoP) (DfE, 2015, 6.87) uses the phrasing “…They (SENCos) will be most effective in that role if they are part of the school leadership team”. The leadership of SEND, although it is driven by the SENDCo, needs to be adopted by all who come into contact with our pupils who have SEND. Radcliffe (2012, cited in Buck, 2017) in confirming this notion that “…when you are leading SEND in a school: you cannot do the job alone”. Morewood et al. (2016) also endorses this notion that: ‘The SENCo should not be an isolated figure, but a key in-house consultant’ (p.17).
In order to drive change in the school, being part of SLT does help with the ‘status’ that is needed in order to implement change. Although I agree with this to an extent, I do believe that you also need to be an individual that has strong leadership, interpersonal skills and status within the staffing. I do feel that, however because I have been a member of staff that has been at my current school for a number of years, I have built a rapport with the staff and they feel not only able to approach me, but also that I can support them too.As I reflect on how the National Award for SEN Co-ordination (the associated course being referred to as the ‘Course’) has been challenging not only the views of staff who I work with, but also my own, I am becoming increasingly conscious of the term ‘Strategic’ that is now associated with the role of the SENDCo. Again, this may have been due to my naivety before becoming SENDCo, but I never really appreciated how strategic you do have to be, especially when you are also class-based like me. This has caused some issues with other professionals who can become agitated when they cannot reach me straight away due to the fact that I am teaching at that moment. Members of staff who did not realise that in order to be a SENDCo, you are required to undertake the Course, have begun to show me a new level of respect, which will then lead to everyone being committed to achieving the vision of what inclusion should look like in our school (Packer, 2013, p.2).
Differentiation is described differently in the various literatures that have been read. Heacox (2002) defines it as ‘changing the pace, level or kind of instruction you provide in response to individual learners’ needs, styles or interests’. This can be seen to be a common thread in various pieces of literature. It is written in The SEND CoP (DfE, 2015) that the first step in responding to a child that has SEND, is ‘High Quality Teaching, differentiated for individual pupils’. (DfE, 2015, 1.24, 6.37, 7.4).
With the ever-increasing demand forced not only on teachers, but children too by the National Curriculum, it becomes increasingly hard to match the level of curriculum content to the child’s capabilities with a curriculum that has become rigid and restrictive, with the introduction of mastery and within a culture where if children have not reached age-related expectation, then they have failed. This then gives practitioners the question; do you reduce the demands of curriculum, knowing that the children who are not age-related in your class will always be behind their peers as the attainment gap increases?
Stradling and Saunders (1993, p.129) argued that there are three questions we need to ask ourselves in regards to differentiation and policy: can the differences in children’s attainment be met by grouping? Will a different curriculum need to be taught to different children? Or can differentiation be achieved by teaching the same curriculum but changing the approaches to delivering it? From experience, setting or streaming seems to be the ‘norm’ in most settings and up until last year, so did my school. This year though, with the introduction of White Rose Maths and whole class guided reading, we have adopted more of the last point that Stradling and Saunders (1993) discussed. We have often experienced in the past that children with SEND tend to be in the lower attaining sets, which can have the added distraction of children who have behavioural difficulties. Education Endowment Fund (2018) found that within-class attainment grouping had its benefits as it could encourage collaborative learning, however it also identified that it can have a negative impact on children’s confidence as they perceive ‘moving up’ tables to be linked with effort, rather than ability. We also noted that children’s aspirations and self-esteem would be lower than their peers; this is similar to the findings that Dunne et al (2007, p.25) established. Although there will be times where setting would be more beneficial for lower attainers, my school have tried to minimise this to key cohorts where there are large numbers of lower attainers (most of which are children with SEND) that do require a differentiated curriculum.
Having reflected on the literature findings, as I develop my strategic role and as more research on mastery and outcomes for children becomes published, it will be beneficial for members of SLT such as the Maths co-ordinator to be made aware of the research and to decide whether this approach to differentiation is best suited to the needs of our children, especially those who have SEND.
My school have moved away from using ‘traditional ‘Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) since I have been there. Having discussions prior to writing this assignment with colleagues from my setting, it is clear that this was a welcomed decision. This feeling is due to several reasons; one is that it was felt that writing IEPs was the responsibility of the SENDCo. The deputy head at my current school was SENDCo in her previous school and regaled me with stories of her spending entire weekends writing IEP targets for children she did not directly work with. Another reason, which was discussed in the Green Paper (DfE 2011), was that schools could end up with an unmanageable number of children in need of School Action/School Action Plus plans. In the SEND CoP (DfE, 2015) the term IEP was no longer mentioned as it was in the 2001 edition (Peterson