Exploring High-Quality Curriculum and Teaching in Further Education: Key Takeaways from OfSTED

Exploring High-Quality Curriculum and Teaching in Further Education: Key Takeaways from OfSTED

The further education and skills sector is hugely important in equipping individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their careers and personal lives. In a recent blog post by Paul Joyce, Deputy Director of Further Education and Skills at OfSTED, he explores what high-quality curriculum and teaching look like in this sector. This article probes into the key takeaways from his blog and provides insights for educators, leaders, and learners in the further education landscape.

Ambitious and Challenging Programmes

One key factor contributing to a successful learning experience is the design of ambitious and challenging programmes. Good trainers use their subject and industrial expertise to create curriculums that provide learners with a solid foundation for their future education, employment, and personal development. They ask essential questions like:

  • What content do our apprentices need to establish successful careers?
  • What do adult learners need to know to progress, achieve, and succeed?
  • What skills and knowledge do young people require to move forward in their subject and transition to university or the world of work?

Well-Ordered Curriculums

Effective trainers also pay close attention to the sequence in which they teach topics. They consider what learners need to know to perform specific tasks at work and plan curriculums accordingly. For instance, construction apprentices must understand mathematical concepts like area and volume before ordering materials. In contrast, beauty therapy apprentices need knowledge of anatomy and physiology before designing and implementing treatment plans. This careful planning ensures learners build their knowledge, skills, and understanding on a firm foundation.

Carefully Selected Teaching Methods

Effective trainers are adept at choosing teaching methods that optimise student learning outcomes. The selection process involves thoroughly understanding various pedagogical techniques and how they align with the learning objectives. Good trainers consider several critical factors to ensure their chosen methods facilitate deep and lasting understanding. One such factor is focusing on the core content and minimising distractions. This means creating a learning environment where extraneous information is limited, and learners can concentrate on the essential material without interruptions or diversions. By streamlining the content delivery, trainers help learners focus on what truly matters, enhancing their comprehension and retention.

Another important aspect is allowing learners ample time to master conceptual knowledge and providing varied opportunities to apply that knowledge. This approach recognises that learning is a process that requires both time and practice. By pacing the instruction appropriately and incorporating various practice activities, such as discussions, exercises, and real-world applications, trainers enable learners to internalise the concepts thoroughly. This iterative learning and application process helps reinforce understanding and build confidence in the learners’ abilities. Moreover, it accommodates different learning styles and paces, ensuring that all learners have the opportunity to grasp the material effectively.

Employing clear explanations, demonstrations, and activities that promote rehearsal, recall, and application is another cornerstone of effective teaching methods. Clear explanations ensure that learners understand the material without ambiguity. Demonstrations provide visual and practical examples of applying concepts, making abstract ideas more concrete. Activities that promote rehearsal, such as summarising information or engaging in interactive discussions, enhance recall by reinforcing neural pathways associated with the learned material. Furthermore, providing opportunities for learners to apply their knowledge in various contexts ensures they can transfer what they have learned to different situations. This application is essential for ensuring learners have securely learned the information, enabling them to remember it over time, not just for the next task or test.

Deep-rooted learning is the ultimate goal of carefully selected teaching methods. It goes beyond rote memorisation and superficial understanding, helping learners apply their knowledge with increasing expertise and confidence. As learners engage with the material deeply, they develop well-informed insights, evaluations, and critiques. This depth of understanding allows them to approach problems creatively, think critically, and make informed decisions based on their knowledge. Over time, learners build a robust foundation of expertise to excel in their field and contribute meaningfully to their disciplines. By promoting such deep-rooted learning, trainers prepare learners for immediate challenges and equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary for lifelong learning and professional growth.

Well-Supported Trainers

Trainers perform best when they receive adequate support from leaders and managers within their institutions. Access to high-quality training and professional development enhances their subject knowledge, teaching skills, and awareness of contemporary practices. It’s important to recognise that delivering training is a complex skill requiring subject expertise and an understanding how learners learn and how a subject should be sequenced for optimal progress. Organisations need to ensure that staff are getting the right levels of CPD. By doing so, they can provide training that empowers their staff to develop professionally and effectively meet organisational needs.

For a trainer to have the most impact, there should also be systems that allow them to teach effectively. This includes access to reliable and up-to-date training materials, strong support from managers and colleagues, and a clear understanding of the organisation’s expectations. Trainers should be able to engage learners in a safe environment where they can feel comfortable taking risks, asking questions and sharing their learning. By doing so, high-quality training that meets the organisation’s needs and leads to successful outcomes can be delivered.

Finally, trainers must constantly evaluate their training programs to identify areas for improvement. This could include monitoring participant feedback, conducting surveys or interviews with colleagues, and adjusting content accordingly. By staying up-to-date with best practices and industry developments, trainers can ensure that their training is always of the highest quality.


The insights from Paul Joyce’s blog post on high-quality curriculum and teaching in further education and skills are invaluable for educators, leaders, and learners in this sector. By implementing ambitious and challenging programmes, well-ordered curriculums, carefully selected teaching methods, and providing support for teachers, further education institutions can continue to improve and contribute positively to the lives of their learners.


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