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Learning and Teaching Practical Skills

Learning and Teaching Practical Skills

As seen on TV

AUTHOR : By Andrew Armitage and Harriet Harper

ISBN : 9781915713667

Edition No : 1

Publication : May 6, 2024

Extent : 176 pgs

ISBN : 9781915713674

Edition No : 1

Publication : May 6, 2024

Extent : 176 pgs

ISBN : 9781915713681

Edition No : 1

Publication : May 6, 2024

Extent : 176 pgs


This book combines the unique and unlikely duo of popular TV shows and pedagogy to help teachers and trainers support their students' skills development. Aimed at post-16 teachers, educators, and trainers of all vocational and technical disciplines, it encourages readers to relate the examples from popular culture and TV to their teaching toolkit.  It is aligned to the Occupational Areas 1-8 within the new Diploma in FE, and is also suitable for those doing the Apprenticeship in FE teaching

The book uses examples from famous reality TV shows to reflect on how people learn practical skills such as baking, dancing, ice skating, sewing and pottery. Discussing everyday examples from TV with which readers may be familiar provides an innovative and engaging starting point to explore all aspects of teaching and learning a skill - including observation, demonstration, practice, feedback and assessment.  

It encourages readers to think about TV shows such as Masterchef, Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing from the point of view of the teacher. The unique mix of seemingly low-brow popular culture combined with serious pedagogy offers key insights for learning and teaching, including critical discussion of topics such as inclusion and the value of formative feedback. Teachers and trainers will develop their own knowledge and skills to support the practical skills development of their students.


Chapter 1: The further education contexts: the students and the teachers, and the TV programmes 

Chapter 2: Learning 

Chapter 3: Teaching 

Chapter 4: Assessment 

Chapter 5: Inclusion, diversity and well-being 

Chapter 6: Education for sustainable development 

Chapter 7: Expertise, professional development and a spot, swot and plot 

List of TV programmes used



Andy Armitage was head of the department of post-compulsory education at Canterbury Christ Church University and taught in secondary, further, adult and community education, and HE for over 40 years. He was an associate inspector and then Ofsted Inspector (OI) from 2011-15. He now works as a consultant with universities, advising them on teacher training and as a staff developer in the education and training sector. As Chair of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers Post 16 Committee from 2014-7, he was closely involved with the development of the Education and Training Apprenticeships. He is co-author of a number of key texts for FE ITE programmes including Teaching in Post-14 Education and Training, Working in Post-Compulsory Education, Assessment  in FE, Developing Professional Practice 14-19, Series Editor Teaching 14+.


Harriet Harper has held a variety of teaching and management roles in FE and HE. She was a teacher educator at The University of Greenwich for seven years and as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors for ten years, she specialised in FE and teacher training. Now she combines a number of professional activities freelance as a teacher, critical friend, college governor, researcher and author. She is the author of Outstanding Teaching in Lifelong Learning.  

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Your Reviews on this book

Three cheers for Andrew Armitage and Harriet Harper! As teacher trainers and educators, we all encourage our student-teachers - whether in their initial training or as part of continuing professional development – to keep in mind the importance of two key principles: the need to engage learners by using something familiar to them as a starting point; and the role that novelty and fun play in keeping that engagement going. This timely book, by drawing analogies with the learning models evident on reality tv shows, combines these two principles.

It provides an effective – and at the same time entertaining – way in to discussions of key issues and theoretical models. The novelty of this approach is bound to be a powerful motivating factor in the learning of teachers themselves, while at the same time modelling for them the importance of building familiar starting points and enjoyment into their own planning and practice.

Susan Wallace, Professor Emerita, Nottingham Trent University

This text is a unique, and quirky, blend of learning and teaching and the rise of reality TV shows.  Regardless of the reader’s feelings about reality TV, there is no escaping the link between the programme and its contestants and the learner in the FE and Skills classroom.  The examples of how people learn, and the benefits of real-world learning are cleverly interwoven into the text with snippets from some of the post popular programmes on TV.  

Any trainee teacher, or indeed any teacher, cannot fail to see the connection and use some of the suggestions to enhance their own practice. An engaging read.

Dr Lynn Senior, Consortium Director University of Huddersfield

Another ITE textbook? This not just ‘another’ book, it’s the first of its kind. The one real standout feature of the book is the use of comparisons to TV shows. This innovative approach allows trainees to connect with some challenging and abstract concepts in concrete terms – and they can then always look to YouTube for clips of the shows....

What a super book - comprehensive coverage, practical approaches, and meaningful application. A must-have text for trainee teachers, subject mentors, and ITE teachers alike.

Dr Clare Winder Initial Teacher Education University of Central Lancashire

Skills competitions are a major feature of TV schedules with many very popular and long-running shows. They speak to our interest in seeing people develop their skill and confidence through practice and hard work, often against the odds. We love to follow the challenges faced by participants as well as their joy and satisfaction as they master a craft. Sharing other people's learning journeys can help us understand how we learn as well as inspiring and motivating us. 

This highly original book from Harriet Harper and Andy Armitage draws on TV skills shows to provide useful practical advice for teachers on how to develop their students' skills, confidence, mastery and fluency. It will be an excellent resource for any teacher seeking to improve their professional practice.

Eddie Playfair Senior Policy Manager Association of Colleges

I love the premise of this book: that TV programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and the Great British Bake Off play a similar role to Further Education - they develop people’s skills.  The authors draw on insightful examples from popular programmes like The Great British Sewing Bee and Dragon’s Den which focus on teaching and assessing skills.  So simple and so powerful. 

Unlike many books on teaching and learning in the FE and Skills sector, theoretical concepts are clearly explained as you read, so teachers, trainees and teacher educators could find themselves re-thinking the activities they design, the models they follow and the examples they use.  There’s no separate chapter for 'theory', thank goodness. I so wish I'd had this book when I first started as a lecturer in the FE and Skills sector. It has made me think differently about my own teaching. And it's a joy to read.

Dr Rebecca Eliahoo, SFHEA WEA tutor

The authors ask their readers, in the course of their book, to use (popular TV) programmes as their own teaching resources, to use them to reflect on their practice, as illustrations of educational theory, as examples of assessment or judgement (good or bad) or as examples of strategies or scenarios for planning teaching and learning. This innovative and lively training text enables them superbly to do all of the above.

Dr Alison Cogger Principal Lecturer Initial Teacher Education Canterbury Christ Church University

The book would be a very useful introduction for Further Education Teachers studying a teaching qualification or simply wanting to find out more about the sector and their work. It is written in an engaging and readable style and is clearly informed by a great deal of experience in the sector.

The reference to reality TV programmes adds novelty value, and also helps to anchor the book in real-world experience. While these are U.K. programmes, they would be comprehensible to readers in any country.

Professor Erica Smith, Professor Emerita (Vocational Education and Training) Federation University Australia
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