Work-Related Courses in a Canadian Province – How Teachers and Students create a Culture of Vocationalism

This seminar focused on the lessons to be learnt from vocational education programmes in Canada.

Abstract: What makes a course vocational? This seminar discussed the vocational aspects of the curriculum of five work-related programmes in a school board in Canada. Central to the seminar was a consideration of the concept of vocationalism and the work-related learning embodied within the activities and assessment tasks on these programmes. One clear finding from the fieldwork undertaken by Professor Higham was the extent to which a teacher’s vocational background was central to the vocational conception and learner experience of the course. This was reinforced by the students’ dispositions and identities, in particular their learning and career aspirations in relation to the particular industry. The findings have considerable implications for the training and development of teachers on vocational courses, not least in terms of making available clear progression routes for industry professionals to become fully qualified school teachers as was the case in this province of Canada.

Jeremy Higham is Professor of Post-14 Education Policy and Curriculum in the School of Education at the University of Leeds. He is also Dean of the Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law at Leeds. His main academic interests are in post-14 education and training policy, curriculum innovation and change, and school-based vocational curricula. He is a Director of the 14-19 Research Group within the School of Education, and has directed, co-directed or participated in a large number of national evaluation and research projects on curriculum change in the UK, with research council and governmental reports, journal articles, papers and books in this area.

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