pop-up workshop on Foundation Year English
Integrated degrees with Foundation Years offer an alternative for students without traditional A level qualifications to access UK Higher Education provision. The Universities of Sheffield, Durham and Plymouth at which we teach each offer their own distinctive degree programmes with FYs in English and Creative Writing. The students whom we teach come from a diverse range of backgrounds including a high number of mature students and first-generation university students. Many may not have studied English Language or Literature in a formal educational setting for some considerable time, making our task one of simultaneously building confidence and bridging a skills or knowledge gap. At a time when this provision has come under threat from the recent Augar review of post-18 education and funding, we wish to share our experiences of working with students on the transition into successful University studies with colleagues from across the HE and FE sectors - whether via foundation years, Access to HE or more traditional A-level routes. We believe there are many benefits to foundation year learning and teaching which are also directly transferable to higher levels of HE pedagogy.
This workshop, therefore, sets out to share strategies for developing an inclusive classroom as one fundamental driver for effective pedagogies in and beyond the foundation year. The workshop has two key aims: firstly, to inform colleagues about the range and diversity of approaches to teaching English at foundation level; and, secondly, to work with colleagues to develop examples of inclusive learning and teaching which they can embed within their own English curriculum and teaching practice at whatever level of study.
The first part of the workshop consists of a front-led presentation drawing on the foundation years at Sheffield, Durham and Plymouth in order to illustrate the structure and design of foundation level teaching in different institutional contexts. We outline the particular learning and support needs of our diverse cohorts and illustrate how these needs are met both through in-house student support and curriculum choices.
In the second part of the workshop, we take a hands-on and collaborative approach to inclusive learning and teaching and invite participants to work together to develop new tools and strategies to take into their own classroom. To facilitate this process, we will draw on examples of collaborative and playful approaches to learning from our own practice: the use of mindfulness to aid students in learning unfamiliar concepts in environmental poetry; the subversion of fairy tales to teach students about the cultural construction of gender, class and race, and the use of Twitter to assist students in interrogating how image and metaphor are used to construct character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
The workshop will conclude with a plenary discussion in which participants are invited to share the tools and strategies and to consider future possibilities for collaboration across different sectors in the inclusive learning and teaching of English.
Dr Naomi Hetherington, University Tutor for English and Humanities, Department for Lifelong Learning, University of Sheffield
Dr Alison McManus, Programme Co-ordinator for Arts and Humanities, Foundation Centre, University of Durham
Christopher McMillan, Tutor for English, Foundation Centre, University of Durham
Dr Ryan Sweet, Lecturer in English, School of Humanities and Performing Arts, University of Plymouth