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Welsh Assembly and ELWa Launch Common Investment Fund

The days of one location schools are gone.

Created by the Welsh Assembly Government and ELWa, the Common Investment Fund will create a system where schools, colleges, work based learning providers and other institutions will work with each other to provide a program where students will be able to access facilities and other learning opportunities not provided at their home schools.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for any one institution to satisfy all the needs of all the learners, so they must work together to meet the challenges they face,” said Sheila Drury, ELWa Chairman.The ₤6 million fund is key part of ELWa’s National Planning and Funding System, which is being introduced to eliminate the “postcode funding lottery” for education and training that exists in Wales.

Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning Jane Davidson and Drury unveiled the plan on 11 March at the Welsh Assembly with BTEC catering students who are already participating on similar program. The students split their learning between their college and Willow School.Davidson said the fund will contribute to the Assembly Government’s Making the Connections strategy, which encourages cooperation amongst all public services. “This fund will help learning providers begin to meet the challenges presented by this strategy,” she said. “Ultimately learners will get a better deal and improved prospects for their future.”

The additional funds will be channeled through Local Education Authorities and Further Education Institutions. They are expected to develop projects involving other local learning providers and work closely with local Community Consortia for Education and Training. The fund will also be used for joint staff training, developing new curriculum activity, transporting learners between sites and streamlining computer systems between different institutions.

Neighbouring schools and colleges have created common timetables so that students may access facilities and courses. This way, student can attend classes in more than one location and maximize their choice subject. The scheme will hopefully meet needs in respect of workforce sills, e-learning, enhance facilities, widen choice, promote equal opportunities and enable research into local learner preferences.

“Greater collaboration is inevitable because the learning network needs to become more efficient to meets rising demand and learners themselves want more choice then the system is currently structured to deliver,” said Drury.

Each local education authority and further education institution has been asked to work in local partnerships and put forward collaboration plans. The new projects are expected to be implemented in the coming months.

Kate Watkins

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