From education to employment

Practical Response to Skills Challenge of Prioritising Courses

When visiting the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) website you enter a land where promises are fulfilled and policies actually make peoples lives better.

Yet contained within the hallowed pages of the site, there remain some truthful assessments of the challenges faced. For instance: “Further Education providers often offer a huge range of courses for a huge range of learners. But what is currently needed is a very clear sense of priority.”

No marketing linguistics here, just the simple truth. So how do we fix it then? Accordingly, “One of the key ways of doing this is by putting more power in the hands of learners and employers so they can choose the courses and training options that will help them most.”

Harlow Success

Harlow College has chosen how to manifest this policy initiative into a practical exercise in success. Produced in conjunction with the Learning and Skills Network (LSN) and the Harlow Partnership for increased flexibility, former media students at the college have created a DVD with the specific aim of increasing awareness of the vocational learning opportunities available for 14-16 year olds in Harlow.

As the oft-debated FE White Paper identifies the sector’s priorities as “equipping learners who have the most to gain from further learning or training with new skills”, Sheila Sullivan believes equipping current students with an outlet to express their views and demands for Further Education clearly meets this criteria. As Head of Curriculum Development at the College, she explains: “This project has been a huge success. It has given current students and lecturers the chance to put across their views of the vocational programmes and their demands as well as the highlights of vocational study.”

Prospective students, parents and even teachers can use the DVD, giving them a chance to see the type of work undertaken at the college and the environment within which these dynamic 14-16 year olds function. It will help Harlow learners to see the choice and diversity, especially of vocational training, available to them.

LSN Supports 14 ““ 19 Sector

“The Learning and Skills Network have been providing support to the 14-19 sector for a number of years”, explains Dave Parry, Local Activities Co-ordinator for the LSN. “In Harlow we have helped fund part of the provision for this crucial part of every learners education. We are pleased to see that the support we have been able to give has culminated in this excellent resource”.

“The aim is to make the sector more able to respond to the needs of employers and learners”, explains the White Paper. And as Mr Parry explains, Harlow College has demonstrated its commitment to supporting this ideal. “We are keen to support and develop new and exciting initiatives that provide schools and colleges with the help they need to deliver the type of broad and flexible curriculum that features in the White Paper”.

Vijay Pattni

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