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Open College Network West Midlands Centres: Lifetime learning for all

Derwen College

Laura Jones, Projects Coordinator at Derwen College, showcases here the educational value of setting up skills competitions linked with vocational sectors and how working in partnership with Open College Network West Midlands has resulted in some amazing outcomes for their students.

“The dedicated support and flexibility from Open College Network West Midlands has enabled Derwen College to award our students nationally recognised qualifications at both Entry Level 3 and Level 1.”

Laura Jones, Projects Coordinator Derwen College

Derwen College is a residential specialist college providing education and work experience to over 200 young people with learning difficulties and disabilities.  The college is a registered charity.

The college curriculum provides learners with the opportunity to develop vocational, independence, personal and social skills. The curriculum is designed to support learners in their transition towards work and independence.

Inclusive skills competitions

Derwen College founded Inclusive Skills competition activity in 2009/10 as there was not a skills competition offer available for individuals working at Pre-Entry—Level 1 .

As a result Natspec (The Association of National Specialist Colleges) led by Derwen College, partnered with North Warwickshire and Hinckley College, developed a national competition offer. This was widely publicised and available for young people in further education working at Entry Level and Level 1, learners who were not at the skills level required for mainstream competitions.

Working in partnership with Open College Network West Midlands and with contribution and support from both North Warwickshire and Hinckley and Beaumont College we designed Performance Excellence Qualifications to support vocational excellence in any vocational context.

The dedicated support and flexibility from Open College Network West Midlands has enabled Derwen College to award our students nationally recognised qualifications at both Entry Level 3 and Level 1.

The Qualifications are:

              

These qualifications are designed to meet the education and training needs of learners who are studying a vocational skill. They support the development of learners’ technical and employability skills and enable learners to demonstrate proficiency in their chosen vocational area. By illustrating a level of competence to potential employers, achievement of the qualifications will create and enhance opportunities to gain employment.

They meet the needs of learners aged 14 and above following a vocational route either at school or through a link with a college or training provider. These qualifications are suited to those learners needing specialist support and include learners at risk of exclusion.

Derwen College piloted the awards 2014/15 within a range of vocational setting including: Catering, Hospitality, Land Based and Business Administration. Feedback from the pilot was positive – the awards improved learners’ confidence within their vocational skill and facilitated learners to evaluate their skills and identify how to improve.

Please visit www.derwen.ac.uk for more information.

References:

Find a Future (n.d). Global standards: bridging the skills gap

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