Curriculum Tearm Leader and WorldSkills Ambassador Martin Deshayed McCourt helping a student on a computer.

WorldSkills Ambassador Profile: Martin Deshayes McCourt

23 February 2022

Ensuring that our students are prepared for their future careers in industry, is the most important aspect of their educational journey at Rotherham College. A key part of preparing our students for this is to work with external organisations to ensure that the knowledge, skills and behaviours that students learn, are adapted to their future industries.

Through our partnership with WorldSkills UK and their Centre of Excellence Programme, five of our teachers have been trained with the latest knowledge and skills needed to ensure that students reach the highest possible standard within their field.

In this, our fifth and final WorldSkills Ambassador feature, we catch up with Martin Deshayes McCourt, Curriculum Team Leader for Digital Interactive Technologies – Games and Animation at Rotherham College. We hear about how he has worked with WorldSkills to adapt his teaching style and develop new ways of working with students to best prepare them for their dream careers.

How has WorldSkills impacted teaching at the College?

When the partnership with WorldSkills first started, the first thing that myself and the four other ambassadors were tasked with doing was to understand how we can raise the standards of technical skills.

As some of my fellow ambassadors have pointed out in previous articles, we started this process by working with our WorldSkills coach Frazer Minskip, current students and other members of staff to review how we teach students and how this reflects the working environment.

The process that we developed started with a period of teaching, where students develop their skills and knowledge in a particular area. For my Computing and Game Design students, for example, they spend six weeks learning to create games, using engines and art-based software, before being put through a Pressure Test.

The Pressure Test is designed to replicate a working environment, where students are set a task similar to one set in a formal working role and have a limited amount of time to complete it. Pressure Tests are used in combination with working with real-life clients. For example, our Level 2 Game Design students were tasked with creating a game that simulated Roman life in Rotherham, which will be used at Clifton Park Museum.

Through regularly exposing students to this level of responsibility and pressure, whilst still providing them with the knowledge and skills they need, we can adjust our teaching methods and ensure that excellence is achieved throughout their learning journey.

How will the programme help prepare students for their future careers?

The aim of this new way of teaching is to take students’ skills to a new level and ensure that they are as best prepared for the world of work, as they can be. By working with Pressure Tests and real-life clients, students work to deadlines and targets, as well as being set specific tasks that they are expected to complete.

This replicates real working environments and develops transferable skills such as organisation, planning and time management, as well as building students’ confidence in pressured situations.

Through the Centre of Excellence, students have also worked in collaboration with businesses outside of their industry. Year 2 Games Animation students will be pitching game ideas to Leeds-based marketing agency, IMA Home, who are working with Adidas to increase digital interaction with their products.

Working collaboratively helps prepare students for working life, as many individuals from different industries and fields often share their knowledge and skills when they work together on projects ranging from video games to websites.

What are the biggest takeaways from your first year as a WorldSkills Ambassador?

It’s been a privilege to work with such experienced and knowledgeable educators from across RNN Group and to be able to see the difference it has made in the students has been amazing.

From a personal point of view, I’ve really enjoyed learning new ways of teaching and helping young students reach their full potential. I’ve worked in education for 20 years and I feel that the past year has made me a better educator and opened my eyes to a more industry-focused and skill-oriented approach to teaching.

It’s been a great opportunity and I feel very lucky to be a part of it!

WorldSkills: What’s next?

Martin and his four fellow WorldSkills Ambassadors, Katie Asgari, Joe Wilde, Karen Connole and Claire Evans have all been busy teaching other members of staff about the key principles that they have learned, whilst working with WorldSkills. Elements such as Pressure Tests are now a regular fixture for most curriculum areas across the RNN Group (Rotherham College, North Notts College and Dearne Valley College).

The next challenge for the students and their Ambassadors is an InterCollege Competition, which will see students from all three Colleges face students from The Grimsby Institute, in the annual competition.

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