Previously, we designed a way to help training providers add a subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) course as a condition of an offer.
When this offer comes through to the candidate, we need a way for them to see information about the SKE course.
We tested these designs and improved the content shown to candidates. We released this new feature on 20 March 2023.
Subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses are currently available in 9 secondary subjects:
- design and technology
- religious education
Providers can ask candidates to do an SKE course if they need to improve their subject knowledge before they start their initial teacher training (ITT).
From previous research, candidates often do not know what an SKE course is when they’re asked to do one.
Some of the main issues candidates have are not knowing:
- why they have to do an SKE course
- how to find an SKE course or who to do it with (SKE providers and ITT providers can be different)
- SKE courses are free
- they can get a bursary of £175 a week while they do their SKE course
- how they can study their course (for example, online, in-person or both)
What we did
After the training provider sends an offer to a candidate with an SKE course condition, we show some guidance before a candidate accepts their offer. This helps explain what an SKE course is, so the candidate can make an informed decision about accepting the offer or not.
We give them information on:
- the subject and length of their SKE course
- why they have to do an SKE course
- when they should complete their SKE course by
- the SKE course being free and they’ll get £175 a week while they do it
- how they can study their SKE (online, in-person or both)
Language SKE courses
Sometimes training providers can ask candidates to do 2 language SKE courses if they’re applying to a modern language course. This is so they can have the ability to teach another language at their school if they need to.
If there are 2 language SKE courses, we show slightly different content with grammatical changes so it makes sense to candidates.
After accepting an offer
Once they accept the offer, we show their SKE course with their other conditions, like their Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
Selecting a training provider
Currently, candidates can use the SKE course directory to find an SKE provider. This is published on GOV.UK and not owned by our team.
We wanted to test if it would be feasible to allow candidates to choose their SKE provider within our service.
We added a button to the ‘Offer page’ that would allow candidates to select an SKE training provider.
On the next page, there is a link to the SKE course directory. This is so candidates can go and look at possible options if they’re not sure who to choose.
Then we show a list of SKE providers to choose from. Ideally, this would only show a list of providers that offer a SKE course in the relevant subject.
After selecting an SKE provider, there’s a screen that tells the candidate what information we would share with that provider to set expectations. We’re not sure how technically feasible this would be but we wanted to test the concept with users to see if this would be a smoother process.
Currently, candidates have to go to the SKE provider’s website and fill in another application form. Often this form asks for the same information as our service. This seems like a waste of time.
We tested these designs with 7 users at different stages of the application process.
Overall the designs tested well and there were no major usability issues. Users did make suggestions on where we could make the content clearer.
We iterated the designs to include:
- clarity about how the bursary would be paid – this can vary by provider
- clarity around what ‘part-time’ means
- calculating the latest month of when a candidate should start their SKE course so they finish it before their ITT starts
We also tested the SKE course directory and found that most users did not even know it existed and that they could choose their own SKE provider.
The directory is also hard for users to make sense of because there was nothing to tell users which SKE provider was better than another. Users mentioned having reviews to help tell the difference.
Some of the language used in the directory (like short, medium, or long courses) did not make sense to users either.
Pairing back our designs
We removed our designs that allowed candidates to choose the SKE provider in our service. Although they tested well, we need to think about how we can integrate SKE provider information into our service and if this is something our service should even handle.
Instead of having a green button that says ‘Select a training provider’ we now just show the final page showing all the candidate’s conditions. We replaced the green button with a link to the SKE course directory so canddiates can use it.
Once a candidate has finished their SKE course, their ITT training provider can mark it as completed. This would then change the status on the candidate’s side to ‘Completed’ too.
During the testing of these designs, we found out a lot about the SKE policy as a whole. This does not sit directly with our team so we gathered these findings and presented them to our policy team who are looking to evaluate the SKE policy.