Davidson-Sofair, J. (2008) An evaluation of the key skills 2000 curriculum in the further education sector and its effects on students' motivation for learning at foundation level. Doctoral thesis. The University of Northampton.
Key Skills (KS), a component of Curriculum 2000 (C2000) was introduced by government in September 2000 as a range of essential generic, transferable skills that underpin success in education, employment, lifelong learning and personal development. C2000 was introduced into Further Education (FE) colleges to replace the core skills (CS) which had, up to then, been integrated or attached to vocational course structures. KS are different in nature from CS. KS are evidenced, assessed and examined separately from vocational courses and therefore, because of their standalone nature, are attached to the vocational students, not to their courses. This research is an evaluation of the conceptual coherence and practical viability of the KS curriculum (KS2000), as introduced and implemented within the further education sector. The study investigates issues for tutors delivering KS and its effects on their foundation students’ motivation for learning. Eleven case-studies were carried out across one academic year within seven FE colleges in Southern England. The nature, provenance and purpose of KS2000 are explored, and the origin and rationale for KS are examined through an analysis of the concept of the ‘skills’ component on which it is founded. The framework of illuminative evaluation was adopted and ethnographic methods of interviews and observations employed. Progressive focussing, used in conjunction with a grounded theory approach of treating the literature as part of the collection of data, gave some capacity for theory-building. The thesis found that all college staffs, both KS and vocational, whilst agreeing that KS were remedial in nature, held different opinions as to what KS were and of what value the KS2000 was to the foundation students. KS tutors believed they provided students with a basis for opportunities to acquire important ‘skills’ for their future, but most vocational staff did not and were even opposed to their being delivered in the context of FE. KS managers agreed that KS should not have to be provided by the FE sector. Members from all groups of participants reported having large numbers of school-leavers entering their colleges with poor levels of basic maths and English. Supplying adequate tutoring and support for such students was demanding for management and stressful for many KS tutors. The students were socialised into accepting that their future employment depended on KS and a majority were positive in their belief that they could achieve them. However, in spite of government funding to provide KS2000, great effort from all staffs to implement the curriculum and students’ apparent motivation and self-belief, many students were observed behaving badly in class and KS qualification rates generally remained poor
key skills, further education, motivation, curriculum 2000, further education foundation level