Foundation Degree Learning Support
93% of UWTSD students at the School of Social Justice & Inclusion in Swansea agreed that staff are good at explaining things – NSS 2017.
The Foundation Degree in Learning Support is a 3-year part-time programme designed to provide professional development opportunities to Teaching Assistants. It combines instruction in education theory with practical application in the work setting: a valuable combination of academic study and enhanced vocational development.
The modular structure of the programme allows for study of topics such as Behaviour, Learning, Methods of Enquiry, PSE and a range of curriculum specific modules designed to increase the students’ own understanding of basic principles and therefore increase their ability to provide support in those areas (literacy, numeracy, science/technology, ICT). Other modules address Research methods, an introduction to Counselling, and Inclusion and Diversity. There is a single pathway for all students, as all modules are suitable for those working early years, primary and secondary schools, as well as special schools and units.
University teaching sessions are held both during the school day and in twilight sessions. Teaching methods are varied and designed to enhance learning by engaging students in reflective discussion and critical analysis of both theory and practice. Students are encouraged to learn from each other and share expertise; in each cohort, representation across phase and from a variety of settings facilitates this process. Engagement with the professional literature is also considered key to understanding and professional development. Students are provided with extensive support for their studies through the provision of year and module tutors.
The Foundation Degree in Learning Support is a programme tailored to the needs of Teaching Assistants working in a wide variety of education settings. The topics studied are relevant and current, allowing students to apply new knowledge directly to their everyday work.
The award provides recognition that the student has not only gained valuable new knowledge and understanding of current educational theory and issues, but has also demonstrated an ability to study at higher education levels, which includes an ability to write for academic purposes.
Graduates of the programme are also recognised by professional colleagues as being more competent and confident in their work; capable of taking enhanced responsibilities in the work setting and making a greater contribution to schools and classrooms.
Assessment for this programme is based on written assignments and oral presentations relating to each of the 13 modules studied (there are no examinations). As the Foundation Degree is required to have a work-based learning element, all assignments require students to relate the theory (presented in university sessions and studied through their own personal programme of reading) to classroom practice. The format of assignments varies, and includes the traditional essay, as well as e-formats (e.g. blogs and glogs or other electronic resources), case studies, research reports and literature review, in additional to oral presentations.
Applicants should hold a Level 3 qualification (e.g. NVQ 3, BTEC, A Level). For those who do not hold such a qualification, experience in the classroom may be taken into consideration.
Students on the Foundation Degree in Learning Support must be working (or volunteering) in education settings while enrolled on the programme, and are therefore already part of the education workforce. Graduates of the programme however report enhanced opportunities in the workplace, and greater likelihood of retaining employment during periods of staff restructuring/redundancies. Graduates of the programme also have the opportunity to continue their studies with a top-up to a full Bachelors degree, and thence (through a PGCE or similar programme) to a career as a fully qualified teacher.