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From the Archives – BTEC Part 1

One of the things I get asked from time to time is how I obtained my BTEC in advanced motorcycle instruction. Here’s the first of a two parter that recounts exactly what I did to qualify via the “accreditation of prior learning” module.

If you’re a regular visitor to the Survival Skills site, you’re probably wondering what happened to the regular updates. Work and BTEC commitments is what.

The basic training school side of things took off in a big way, and I have been working pretty much flat out nearly every day and some evenings too, filling in the odd gaps with the advanced courses, so thanks to those on Survival Skills courses who’ve been very patient with the limited gaps in the diary this summer. Hopefully, next year we’ll have another full time instructor working alongside me and our part-timers to spread the load.

Many of the remaining evenings have been taken up polishing course work up and getting myself up to speed for the BTEC in Advanced Motorcycle Instruction put together by South Lincs BMF that I sorted out at the beginning of the year to replace the appallingly badly organised Driver Education course I began an age ago at Middlesex University.

Both courses use an “accreditation of prior learning” (APL) element for instructors with previous experience to replace a traditional “taught” course. The idea is that you show the assessors that you have not only been teaching riding skills, but that you have used the courses you have taught as a learning experience for yourself to develop and improve your own skills and the training you deliver, thus avoiding the need to spend weeks in the classroom being taught what you already know. For those with limited or no experience, the classroom option is available, by the way.

The required format for the BTEC was slightly different from the Middx course. This meant the original submission I had made to Middx was a useful background document, but still needed the fleshing out with the hard evidence that I had never got round to. The main exhibit for the defence was a portfolio profiling the kind of things they want to see.

Sounds easy? Yes, at first sight. Easy enough to provide photocopies of my driving licence and CBT card. Not too difficult to provide copies of my current training notes. But to demonstrate learning?

Fortunately I’m one of those people who NEVER throws anything away. That does mean the office is knee deep in paperwork and old bike magazines but it also means I had a fighting chance of finding some of the old training notes, course details, briefing notes, debriefing notes and so on, as well as the upto date stuff.

Eventually I had assembled a large A4 box-file of notes and papers, printouts of e-mails from trainees and the resulting course notes, items from the website and Visordown and the various magazines I have had articles published in.

First up was an interview to determine whether the portfolio was up to the job and to see if I could justify the learning I was claiming. It wasn’t quite the grilling I had expected – Malcolm Palmer popped over to meet me in Oxford and spent a long evening chatting informally over several mugs of tea and a plate of fish and chips, whilst going piece by piece through the file. However, it was thorough – around 4 hours later (too late for a quick pint) Malcom left me with a list of what he would like included and copied for the formal submission for APL.

Job done, I thought. Ha.

Now I had to sift the original documents, copy those I needed to submit, and annotate them to explain what they were and why I was submitting them. What seemed like a couple of hours work dragged into weeks of hunting for the original files on the PC and long lost back up zip disks, discovering they were formatted for an extinct version of a word processor noone else ever used and reformatting them to print a readable copy, or where the notes were handwritten or the PC version was long gone, scanning and printing page by page a copy for the portfolio.

Eventually, everything was neatly placed in a large red ring binder and dropped off to Malcolm the evening before the second part of the APL assessment.

…. to be continued ….

Originally published on the website 20 Sept 02

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