A Complete Guide to the Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training: Second Edition

A Complete Guide to the Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training: Second Edition

Paperback(Second Edition,New edition,2nd edition fully updated throughout including links to the ETF Standards)

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A complete, all-in-one guide to the new Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training, suitable for use with any awarding organisation.

It offers an easy-to-understand structure, incorporates key information on reflective practice and study skills, and provides full coverage of all the mandatory units. Accessible language and a practical approach are combined with the required underpinning theory, and a range of useful learning features include clear objectives, key words, points for pre-flection, case studies and activities to check your understanding. 

This new second edition includes:

• fully updated references to the Education and Training Foundation Professional Standards

• revised chapters, amended throughout to reflect the latest thinking around further education

• further reading and references updated in all chapters

• links to the latest government legislation, including the SEND Code of Practice (2014).

Written by the successful team who produced A Complete Guide to the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781910391099
Publisher: Critical Publishing
Publication date: 09/21/2015
Series: Further Education
Edition description: Second Edition,New edition,2nd edition fully updated throughout including links to the ETF Standards
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.85(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Lynn Machin is Award Leader and Senior Lecturer within the School of Education at Staffordshire University.  She has over 20 years’ experience of teaching in post-14 education.  Lynn has had a variety of roles within initial teacher education (ITE) including developing and writing the modules that make up the suite of qualifications within ITE in the FE and Skills Sector.  

Duncan Hindmarch is Award Leader for Lifelong Learning Teacher Training and the Foundation Degree in Education at Staffordshire University.  He has over 15 years' teaching experience, having worked overseas and in the UK.  With a background in Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages, he has been involved in developing and delivering ESOL and Initial Teacher Training programmes since 2005.

Tina Richardson is an Award Leader and Manager of the Lifelong Learning Development Centre within the School of Education at Staffordshire University.  She has worked in compulsory, further and higher education, with the last 15 years focusing on Adult Literacy, Language and Numeracy and teacher education for the FE and Skills Sector.  Tina has worked on a consultancy basis for a number of organisations such as LSIS, SVUK and CfBT.  

Sandra Murray is a Curriculum Leader and Advanced Practitioner in the Department of Teacher Training at Newcastle-under-Lyme College.  She has a wide range of experience supporting and teaching teachers in the lifelong learning sector and has been teaching on Initial Teacher Education programmes since 2005. 

Read an Excerpt

A Complete Guide to the Level 4 Certificate in Education & Training

By Lynn Machin, Duncan Hindmarch, Sandra Murray, Tina Richardson

Critical Publishing Ltd

Copyright © 2015 Lynn Machin, Duncan Hindmarch, Sandra Murray and Tina Richardson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-910391-09-9


Reflecting, evaluating and improving your practice


action, application, critical reflection, development, evaluation, espoused theories, in-action learning, learners, meta-cognition, on-action model, practice, prospective, teachers, thinking.


Throughout your course, as well as in your career as a teacher, it is important for you to develop your ability to reflect and to be a reflective enquirer. Reflecting and applying reflection to your practice underpins all of the) 20 standards outlined by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) (2014). ETF introduce these standards by noting that

Teachers and trainers are reflective and enquiring practitioners who think critically about their own educational assumptions, values and practice in the context of a changing contemporary and educational world.

Specifically, this chapter also contributes to the following Professional Standards as provided by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) (2014):

Professional values and attributes

Develop your own judgement of what works and does not work in your teaching and training.

1 Reflect on what works best in your teaching and learning to meet the diverse needs of learners.

2 Evaluate and challenge your practice, values and beliefs.

10 Evaluate your practice with others and assess its impact on learning.

A list of all of the Standards can be found at the back of this book (Appendix 1).


This chapter provides a theoretical appreciation of what it means to be a reflective practitioner and it asks questions and contains activities that are designed to develop your understanding of how to apply reflection to your practice. In this way this chapter aims to meet the following objectives:

* to provide you with an explanation of some of the key theories and models of reflection;

* to support your exploration of ways in which you might use feedback from learners and others in order to improve your practice;

* to assist you in identifying areas for your continual professional development.

As a trainee teacher working in the Further Education and Skills sector you will often reflect about an event that has occurred or an action that you have taken. However, how useful any act of reflection is to you depends upon the action that you take following that reflection. Ghaye (2011, p130) cites Freire (1972), who considers that

reflection without action is just wishful thinking.


Critically reflecting is linked to your ability to think critically; that is to make logical connections between ideas that subsequently support your evaluation of facts and opinions in order to make a sound judgement of an event, action or encounter. Using and developing the necessary skills for reflection are pivotal to your development as a professional practitioner as you will regularly need to reflect about:

* what it is you are doing;

* why you are doing it;

* what you need do differently next time.

Reflecting critically about experiences that have occurred in your practice as well as acknowledging the feelings that you have in relation to them enables new thinking and new ideas to be formed and it is these new concepts that allow new experiences to occur (Gibbs, 1998).


There is a wealth of literature available that provides information about what reflection and reflective practice is. Much of this information has been developed from established theories and models of reflection. Some of the most significant theories are outlined in Table 1.1 below.

You will find it useful to read literature relating to all of the models presented in Table 1.1, several of which are discussed in more detail in the following sections.

Within education, reflective practice relates to the application of the skill of reflection around the process of learning and the representation of that learning in order to improve professional practice (Moon, 2006, p4). All of the three types of reflection (prospective, in action and on action) are central to effective pedagogic practice (Moon, 2006, p4).

Prospective reflection is an active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or practice in light of its current position and possible eventual consequences (Dewey, 1933, cited in Han, 1995, p1). In essence, this is pre-flection and means thinking before an action is taken about its possible consequences. For example, if you were going to use some new, or different, technology during a lesson, you might consider the consequences that this might have on the learners' learning experiences if the technology did not work or was not as successful as you intended it to be.

Reflection in action refers to a person's (teacher's) need to examine their prior understanding of theories in use and to construct new understandings when presented with a unique situation while in the classroom (Schön, 2002, p130). Theories in use refer to those theories (even those that you may have forgotten about) that over the course of time have influenced your attitudes and your beliefs and these, in turn, will have influenced your actions and responses to an event. Put more simply, reflection in action is the action of thinking on your feet and reflecting on something while you are actually doing it. Doing this can result in an instant decision being made that can result in a change of action in relation to how you are approaching a task or situation. For example, if a lesson that you have planned is going badly you might, midway through the lesson, decide to do something very different from what you had planned. During reflection in action you might consciously or unconsciously draw upon theories that you have learned during your teacher training or through prior learning. For example, you might draw upon theories relating to behaviour management techniques that might encourage learners to engage more actively in the lesson.

Reflection on action refers to the act of reflecting on your action/s after the event, ie taking the chance to reflect following an experience (Schön, 2002, p279). Put simply, this is thinking following an event or action taken. For example, after you have had a teaching observation you may reflect about the strengths of the lesson and what you consider to be the areas for future development. Indeed, very often the observer will ask you to comment and to provide your views about the lesson.


Among others, Moon (2006), as well as Huddleston and Unwin (2002), stresses that it is a person's use of mental models to explore and examine theories in use that influence their responses during their process and application of reflection, which can ultimately lead to changes in attitudes and outcomes. Action in the sense of reflection does not relate purely to physical activity; it also applies to any action you take relating to your mental models. For example, through reflection you may realise that you need to change your assumptions or to look at a problem differently (Brookfield, 1995). The action relates to your shift in thinking which will ultimately influence a possible change in your behaviour or your approach to future incidents. Therefore, continually reviewing and developing your mental models is important in order for you to make informed decisions that lead to improved outcomes and strategies. Therefore reflection is important in order to:

* review an event that has occurred or action that you have taken;

* consider the outcome and consequence of an event and/or action;

* consider your reaction to an unforeseen event and how you might address a similar action in future (for example, dealing with unforeseen behaviour by a learner);

* consider something that you have learned, maybe some theory or a skill, and how you could use this theory or develop this skill in the future;

* review something that you have observed in order to consider what, if anything, you would do differently next time (for example, something observed during an observation of a peer);

* consider personal and professional development needs and to develop a plan of action.


Everyone should reflect. Reflection can be an individual action or a group action depending upon the reason/s for reflection. For example, you may reflect following each of your teaching lessons, or it may benefit the whole team to reflect about how well a module has been received by the learners, as well as reflecting about how it could be improved the next time that it is delivered.


Among others, Kolb (1984) and Brookfield (1995) provide models that can be used to enhance your ability to reflect and it is useful to read what they, as well as other theorists that you may come across, have to say about the various strategies that you could use in order to apply reflection to your practice.

Brookfield's four lenses

Specifically, Brookfield (1995, p30) suggests that a good approach to critical reflection is to look through four different lenses.

Brookfield's (1995) four lenses:

1. autobiographical as both learner and teacher;

2. seeing ourselves through our learners' eyes;

3. seeing ourselves through our colleagues' eyes;

4. theoretical literature.

Autobiographical lens as a learner and teacher

Looking at yourself through an autobiographical lens refers to your engagement in the process of self-reflection as both a teacher and a learner. As you do this you can become more aware of any assumptions that you hold and the instinctive thoughts that frame what you say and how you work. When you know what these are you can start to test their accuracy and validity through conversations with your learners, colleagues, peers and by reading literature (Brookfield, 1995, p30). However, challenging your assumptions can be a really difficult thing to do. Not only may you not be aware of them but you may not want to let go of something that you have thought true for most of your life. Examples of some assumptions include:

* all adults are motivated learners;

* adults who have vocational skills are not as clever as adults with academic skills;

* teachers should know all of the answers to the subjects that they teach;

* once group work has been set teachers should always interact with the groups.

One way of developing your ability to self-assess and to become more aware of any assumptions might be through keeping a diary, journal or log of critical incidents. Although these are often used as a resource to record descriptions of events, they can, particularly with practice, be used as a resource to record reflective accounts about critical incidents. These accounts become reflective when, rather than simply describing an event or action, you think about a critical incident and learn from it.

A critical incident is something that is important to you. It is often something that was unforeseen and that you have dealt with by thinking on your feet, or, as Schön (2002) comments, when you have reflected in action. When writing about a critical incident you need to consider:

* the context of the incident;

* why the incident was significant;

* why you acted in the way that you did;

* what skills you used and what theories you applied;

* what you would do differently next time.

Your learners' eyes

This relates to the ways that you, as a teacher, can find ways to see yourself through your learners' eyes. This might be through the learners' evaluations of the classes that you teach and that they attend or by talking with the learners. It may even be by trying (imaginatively) to put yourself in a learner's place. Looking at your practice through your learners' eyes can help you to check whether learners take the meanings that you intend from your teaching lessons (Brookfield, 1995, p30).

Your colleagues' eyes

This refers to engaging in critical conversation with your colleagues and peers or perhaps asking them to observe your practice and to provide you with feedback. According to Brookfield (1995, p30), colleagues and peers can often see aspects of our practice that might be hidden from us. Therefore colleagues and peers provide constructive feedback which can enable you to see your practice differently or cause you to reflect on possible assumptions (Brookfield, 1995). This can be a very useful process to adopt and it could be used for prospective reflection in order to inform your decisions about a future action, ie when you are pre-flecting about what action to take and what the consequences of the action might be. It can also be useful to speak with colleagues or peers after an event or action (reflection on action) as they can help you to determine if what you did was right, what you might have done, and what you could do next time.

Theoretical literature

This refers to giving consideration to the theories that you have read. Such literature can help you to understand your experiences by naming them in different ways and by providing you with some tools to change your approach to an event or actions (Brookfield, 1995). Taking notes and applying the theories to your practice can help you to become a better practitioner through improving your decision making so that you can take appropriate action.

Kolb's experiential learning cycle

As can be seen in Table 1.2 Kolb (1984) outlines four significant stages of reflection.


As noted earlier in this chapter, Schön (2002) contends that theories in use are those theories that you consciously or unconsciously refer to when you are engaged in or are reflecting upon an action. It is these theories that inform your thinking and assumptions. Schön also refers to espoused theories, which are those that you (like all of us) may sometimes convince yourself, or hope to convince others, that you use, but in reality you do not. Therefore espoused theories relate to the image that you are trying to convey or that you believe to be true. Critical reflection of both theories in use and espoused theories is necessary in order for you to challenge your assumptions and to change, where necessary, your mental models. However, in order to begin to think differently it is necessary to consider the process of meta-cognition.

Meta-cognition refers to the process of thinking and it involves looking inwards in order to consider the assumptions and theories in use that you have and that are influencing your thinking. As Hillier (2005) asserts:

when we reflect, we not only challenge our assumptions about why we do what we do, we can also help ourselves identify where we feel lacking and why we may be setting ourselves unnecessarily unachievable standards. (p7)

Assumptions may be so embedded (from childhood and prior learning) that they are no longer recognised as assumptions but rather are seen as facts or truths. The process of reading a range of literature, speaking with colleagues and opening your mind to alternative ways of thinking can be useful actions to take in order for you to become more aware of any assumptions that you hold. You do not necessarily need to change these assumptions (depending upon what they are) but you do need to know why you have them and, when necessary, be able to defend their appropriateness.


Where you should reflect is entirely dependent upon you. At times you will reflect in situ, ie where the event is taking place. At other times you might reflect in the staffroom, as you make your way home, at home, or at other venues when you are with friends and colleagues. Generally, there is no right or wrong place in which to engage in reflection; however, it should be conducive to concentration and thinking time.


Excerpted from A Complete Guide to the Level 4 Certificate in Education & Training by Lynn Machin, Duncan Hindmarch, Sandra Murray, Tina Richardson. Copyright © 2015 Lynn Machin, Duncan Hindmarch, Sandra Murray and Tina Richardson. Excerpted by permission of Critical Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Praise for the first edition,
Meet the authors,
1. Reflecting, evaluating and improving your practice,
2. Professional roles and responsibilities,
3. Learners and their needs,
4. Assessment practices and processes,
5. Communication,
6. Inclusive learning environments,
7. Planning and delivery,
8. Teaching practice and observations,
9. Progression routes,
10. Study skills,
Glossary of acronyms,
Answers to activities,

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