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2005 was a year to remember for the Welsh Further Education colleges, as they reaped the rewards for their exceptionally hard work and as their achievements were recognised.

With 25 colleges in total, 2005 saw this small percentage of the hundreds of FE Colleges in the country take home an impressive 20% of the Beacon Awards for Success. Neath Port Talbot College has built on this success and is understandably proud to reveal that they have become the first College in Wales to gain the Basic Skills Quality Mark.

Quality

The award has been given specifically for the broad approach that the College has taken towards the issues of post 16 basic skills training and learning delivery. The award marks a significant achievement for the College, as it proves that they have passed through a rigorous ten point inspection regime and met the criteria set by the Basic Skills Agency. This means that the College is recognised as possessing a "Recognised Quality Programme".

The recognition aims to promote awareness for the importance of basic skills education, one of the key areas for the FE sector and for the Government. It also intends to promote innovation in the means and methods for delivery of training and education, and to raise the standards for the entire area of training for the learners. With this proving to be a focus of Government attention and for their priorities, an expansion in provision is also desirable!

Assessed

To get to this point, the College was inspected and assessed in four key areas of skills provision. These included Essential Basic Skills provision, Adult Community Education (often a neglected area of FE provision, this also includes skills in the workplace), Pathways Training (again, an area of Work Based Learning) and Pre Vocational Studies provision. The assessment also included an inspection visit from Estyn, the Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales.

The College are understandably proud to have made it through the many levels of assessment and inspection. A representative of the college stated: "The award is a high profile award and the staff and management are all very proud of the achievement. This will provide a firm basis for the further development of a quality provision for all learners at the college."

Basic Skills provision is a crucial plank in the decking of the economy of the future. It is especially crucial at this time of economic flux, when the United Kingdom (along with most other post "“ industrial economies) faces up to the realities of a decimated industrial sector. The brutal truth is that our economy is in transition, and the direction it is moving in will demand a drastic improvement in our position in Organisation for Economic Co "“ operation and Development (OECD) international education participation tables.

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Training and education will be required, from basic skills to the highest level of qualification, for economic success. As such, success in this area should be encouraged, should be lauded, but most of all, should be built upon.

Jethro Marsh

Read the latest in FE right here at FE News!

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