Updated: Nov 27, 2020
In 2011, I started working in the Further Education College in SE London, where I had studied for my A levels in the early 1990's. I was initially recruited as a manager in STEM, but the role gave me the opportunity to develop and grow my curriculum design and development skills!
At the time Westfields in Stratford was being developed, the college was approached at a local business breakfast to see if they could help a group of casinos train and recruit croupiers for their new sites. At the time there were only two other centres in the UK, who delivered this service, and they were both based up north. Accepting the challenge, we embarked on an exciting curriculum design journey.
We first had to find off-site accommodation, with classrooms and enough space to accommodate a full-scale training casino. We settled on a suite of rooms inside Charlton Athletics Football Club (CAFC). We were lucky to recruit one of the gaming industries most experienced trainers as a consultant to advise us on the gaming aspects of the project. He managed to quickly secure us a decommissioned fully functional casino, that included all the equipment, tables, roulette wheels and chip. We set up the training casino and developed three classrooms and an IT suite on the site.
To develop the curriculum, we looked creating study programmes for adults (18+) which incorporated: gambling operations (level 2 and Level 3), employability, responsible gaming and customer service. We recruited experienced croupiers and supported them to gain a teaching qualification (PTLLS and DTLLS). We put in place other staff to deliver functional skills (English & Maths), employability and customer services. To recruit learners, we got in contact with Job Centre Plus and were successful in recruiting unemployed local adults. We utilised our in-house Internal Verification (IV) specialist to support the team with making the correct assessment decisions and to embed appropriate quality assurance standards and process into the course structure.
We linked up with the local casinos and developed master classes in Texas Hold Em, Roulette and all the main games. We took our learners to the annual International Casino Exhibition (ICE) at the ExCeL London. To provide direct relevant simulated work experience for the learners, where their competence against performance criteria were assessed, we held regular themed casino charity evenings. No money was exchanged, but a slice of the profits from the drinks went to local charities and the students got the opportunity to practice and master their skills. The casinos sent headhunters and we established regular on site recruitment events. Recruitment staff from all the leading casinos and cruise companies would come to CAFC, pitch their organisation to our learners, carry out interview and skills tests.
During my time at the college, I managed the provision and ensured quality, standards and that the learner experience was of a high quality.
We recruited over 500 students, who were local unemployed adults. We achieved a retention rate of 90 % and of those that completed their programme, 70% + secured a direct job in the casino industry as a croupiers in either a casino or on a cruise ship.
While at the same college, I had the opportunity to refine and successfully use my curriculum design skills in developing other programmes that met local needs:
Access to (HE) Science Programme - A one-year course for adults to progress into HE. For the programme validation we wrote a suite of new units of study that were commended by the awarding body and included, Einsteinium Physics and Statistics for Science. Recruiting two cohorts of 25 students, 85% progressed on to HE programmes.
Step up to Science - An entry / level one programme for young people (16 - 18) who were a Not in Employment or Education (NEET), which comprised of Function Skills (English, Maths & ICT), Employability and a Level one Certificate/Diploma in Applied Science, which allowed progression on to our other Level two qualifications. Progression was strong with 80% staying and studying on level 2 programmes.
Plumbing & White Goods Programme - We set up a workshop and a classroom at a local council recycling centre. We developed programmes based on Consumer Electrical Appliance Repair & Servicing and Plumbing, including employability and Functional Skills (English &Maths). We recruited over 120 learners in the first year.
The art of curriculum design is an important tool which can help us to meet local needs, address regional / national skills priorities and as a vehicle to get people retrainned and back into work.
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