Coleg Elidyr, Carmarthenshire, is committed to developing learners’ transferable skills. The college reviewed how subject lessons could help develop skills such as literacy, numeracy, social and communication skills. Staff were trained in how to integrate the teaching of transferable skills in subject-specific lessons and learners are more confident as a result.
Number and age range of children: 23 learners (19 – 22)
Date of Estyn inspection: June 2014
Context and background to sector-leading practice
The distinctive curriculum at Coleg Elidyr emphasises experiential, practical learning and offers a well-rounded approach to learning that draws on land-based, vocational and craft subjects to help learners develop skills for a more independent life.
The college is committed to the belief that all learners, whatever their abilities or needs, are able to make a unique and individual contribution to the life of the community through work. However, by 2011, the changing profile of the college’s learners meant that most were unlikely to enter employment on leaving college. The most likely destination for most learners would be supported living in an urban environment. It was recognised that staff needed to develop a new understanding of how their work areas could help learners develop the skills they needed to access their chosen destinations.
Description of nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice
The college’s first step was to establish a greater understanding of the purpose of each subject or work area, through asking the following questions: what skills does each learner need to make a successful transition to their future destination and how can each learning area contribute to the development of these skills? What emerged from discussions was a recognition that while learning areas enabled learners to develop specific vocational skills, they also provided opportunities for the development of a broad range of transferable skills. These skills included literacy, numeracy, communication, social skills and problem solving skills as well as work-related skills, such as an understanding of working practices, health and safety and teamwork.
The college provided training for all staff to make sure that they understood how to integrate the teaching of transferable skills with their own subject-specific teaching. Session plans clearly demonstrated how transferable skills would be taught alongside vocational skills. Each tutor developed progression ladders for their own work or subject area and targets were set and reviewed against these on a regular basis, according to the ability of each individual learner.
At the same time, the college appointed a work experience co-ordinator. Her first task was to extend the range of external work experience placements, so that learners could choose placements that suited their particular interests and linked well to the learning they were doing in college. She contributed to assessing progress within the placements, ensuring learners’ targets were being addressed within the workplace.
In addition, the college undertook a thorough review of the opportunities for work experience on site. The priority was to ensure that these built on a learner’s prior learning while developing the skills and confidence needed to access work experience externally.
What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?
The skills that learners develop at Coleg Elidyr enable them to participate successfully in work experience both within and outside the college. All learners participate in internal work experience, including working on the farm, in the office and in the garden.
Many of the learners progress to regular external work experience in Years 2 and 3, including gardening and working in a local community shop.
The focus on developing skills prepares learners extremely well for life after college and helps them grow in confidence and self-esteem.
Through its involvement in the Unlocking the Potential of Special Schools (UPOSS) FE initiative in Carmarthenshire, the college has shared this work with representatives from Coleg Sir Gar, Careers Wales, Heol Goffa Special School and the local authority. In addition, it has shared the practice with other independent specialist colleges in Wales through regular networking opportunities.