Lln national forum newsletter february 2008


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Lln national forum newsletter february 2008

  1. 1. The last three years have been ones of mutual learning – for HEFCE as well as the LLNs themselves. LLNs have faced a challenging remit (covering wide-ranging curricula, progression, and IAG issues) all within a very short timescale. HEFCE’s investment has been considerable but so, too, has its expectations. Quite apart from new provision, protocols and practice, much work has been needed to ensure full ‘buy in’ from colleagues and external partners to this important but often complex agenda. Not surprisingly, more and more attention is now being paid to looking at the lessons learned so far, and the Forum has a crucial role to play in this through the Peer Evaluation exercise that is currently underway. An early message from this exercise is the real value that LLNs are bringing as ‘partnership platforms’ not just for the specific issue of vocational progression but, potentially, for wider skills and employer engagement agendas. It is clear that LLNs are looking both to show what has been achieved and how they might contribute in substantial and practical ways to future FE/HE priorities. The newly-formed Directors’ Group within the Forum will have a key role to play in both these areas. One of their first tasks is to try to capture, and evidence, how LLNs are making a very real difference in their specific areas and regions as well, of course, to learners themselves. They are also keen to identify how they can play a key role in helping take forward important new agendas. The signal that LLNs are now starting to feature on the DIUS ‘radar’ is welcome. It gives the LLN community the opportunity to show what they are achieving and what they still have to offer. ……………………………………………………………… For further information about the Nation Forum contact: Camilla Vaughan, Forum Administrator Email: admn592@york.ac.uk After making an important contribution to the development of the LLN National Forum, Judy Smith will be leaving her role as Coordinator at the end of February. We will be welcoming back Claire Newhouse from her maternity leave. , Tel: 01904 435164 Recognising the Potential of LLNs Colin Mellors, Chair LLN National Forum Welcome to the latest edition of the LLN National Forum Newsletter. This issue focuses on how LLNs are working closely with those who are taking forward the new Diplomas which are at the forefront of the Government’s 14-19 agenda. Various articles describe the ways in which LLNs are becoming such an important part of the HE/FE landscape and how they are linking with schools and colleges in helping establish new progression routes. There are other articles that show the innovative work that is being undertaken across the LLN community to address core issues in helping more vocational learners to access higher education. These include: the launch of a substantial number of multi-lateral progression agreements by Progression2Succeed LLN; creative work on prior experiential learning by South West LLN, the important issue of monitoring the student learning experience of vocational students by Linking London LLN; an innovative approach to guidance by Skills for Sustainable Communities LLN; and Greater Manchester’s imaginative way of tracking new learners. All exemplify the pioneering work that is going on across Networks and, equally important, how colleagues are keen to share good practice which is at the heart of the mission of the National Forum. The timing of this Newsletter coincides with an interesting milestone for LLNs. It is almost precisely three years since the first group of LLNs were approved by HEFCE. It is perhaps significant, therefore, that LLNs recently featured in the Secretary of State’s ‘Grant letter’ to HEFCE in January which calls upon the Funding Council to build ‘on the promise of Lifelong Learning Networks’. The phrase appears in relation to progression routes to higher level skills and it is encouraging that LLNs are now starting to feature in wider official thinking. Indeed, for those closely involved, LLNs are important not only for their ‘promise’ but also for their ‘potential’. Lifelong Learning Networks Newsletter February 2008
  2. 2. LLNs at the Forefront of New Diploma Joint Developments with AimHigher Greater Manchester John Sanders, Aimhigher Greater Manchester Rick Crowshaw, Greater Manchester Strategic Alliance Aimhigher Greater Manchester and the Greater Manchester Lifelong Learning Network (GMSA) have convened regular meetings of a 14-19 Progression to Higher Education (HE) Forum since April 2007. The Forum has representatives of all 10 local authorities and the 6 local HEIs plus the Learning and Skills Council, Connexions and a representative of HE in Further Education (FE) providers in Greater Manchester. Prof. Deian Hopkin, the Vice Chancellor of London South Bank University and the government’s HE champion for the Diplomas, spoke at the last Forum meeting. The Forum has produced an information booklet for admissions tutors about the first five lines of Diplomas. Further summary information about the content and assessment of the first five Diploma lines will be supplied in early 2008 to help facilitate the greatest possible wealth of progression opportunities for Diploma learners. The Forum will use the approach developed in the LLN Pathways2HE project to facilitate electronic access to progression opportunity information for learners, providers and advisors. Preliminary indicative progression opportunities have been mapped from the five lines to courses at local HEIs. The Forum is now working to fine-tune the outline progression maps, using them to initiate dialogue and firm up agreements with local HEIs on progression opportunities. Planning for the second Gateway process and the roll-out of the next five Diplomas will now take place. Links have been successfully brokered between HEI departments and Diploma developers. For example the Royal Northern College of Music has worked closely with boroughs offering the first creative and media Diplomas. The University of Manchester is also looking to supply expertise for use in extended projects. Brokering such links, is a policy that will continue to add value when planning for additional learning and extended projects. A model of intervention has been proposed to encourage progression to HE which will include visits to HEIs and personalised progression maps for all initial Level 3 Diploma students. University partners are being encouraged to track students entering via the pilot Diplomas to ensure they are supported to succeed. Key specific and generic issues were outlined in a summary report in July 2007 and HEFCE were informed on progress in November. The Forum has benefited from the shared experience of how local HE and 14-19 development partnerships can cooperate and has engaged with North West and Greater Manchester networks, which have produced information for parents and employers about the new Diplomas. The GMSA has provided links to sector development groups and Sector Skills Council (SSC) representatives. This brokerage of links will be used to inform HE curriculum development and progression agreements in 2008. For more information please contact John Sanders, Assistant Director, 0161 998 7272 j.r.sanders@open.ac.uk or Rick Crowshaw, Progression and Collaborative Partnership Development Manager, 0161 921 8033, rick.crowshaw@gmsa.ac.uk Contributing to Diploma Curriculum Group Jackie Powell, Higher Futures Three years ago I was invited by UCAS to join a new Curriculum Development Group, established to discuss and make recommendations to UCAS on the likely impact of 14 - 19 curriculum change on HE admissions and progression. Membership is from a wide range of HE providers (including Russell Group and HE in FE), UCAS, Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and Qualification and Curriculum Authority (QCA). A key focus over the past two years has been the development of the 14 - 19 Diplomas. The group has been consulted from the outset about curriculum content and the appropriateness of Diplomas for progression to HE, along with the consideration of other qualifications, UCAS Entry Profiles, tariff and applications processes. Significant issues around progression from Diplomas to HE are: Functional Skills; specific content such as mathematics within the Engineering Diploma; the consistency of the proportion of theoretical and applied content; and the general preparedness of Diploma learners for HE. These are highly relevant to the work of many LLNs, particularly for the Lifelong Learning Networks Newsletter February 2008
  3. 3. development of any Progression Agreements needing to include the first Diplomas to be taught from 2008. In addition, high quality and detailed Advice and Guidance will need to be offered to Level 3 learners to ensure they make the right choices for progression. The first learners with an Advanced Diploma will apply to Higher Education in 2009 for entry in 2010, and it is important that their progression is supported and monitored. The tariff points for the Advanced Diploma have now been agreed and are available on the UCAS website. The process for allocating tariff value is time consuming and thorough, involving an 'expert group' of representatives from a range of organisations including universities, who compare detailed aspects of the specification to others at the same level over a period of several days. Although the Diplomas are not described as vocational, the fit between course content and learning styles within Diplomas and some vocational HE courses will be valuable for progression, and Foundation Degrees in particular may benefit from the pool of potential applicants. Colleagues in LLNs can help by being involved in local Diploma discussions where appropriate, and by raising awareness of Diplomas and their issues within their partner organisations. Consultations are taking place about second and third phase Diplomas at regional meetings, and LLN practitioners are welcome to attend these. For further details about all aspects of Diploma development, and to sign up for the 14 - 19 Newsletter and Newsflash, visit the DCSF website: www.dfes.gov.uk/14-19 The UCAS Curriculum Development Group will meet this academic year in March, May and July. The May agenda includes an update on the development of phase 3 Diplomas and a discussion on the policy issues of phase 4 Diplomas. I would be happy to receive feedback and comments from other LLNs on these topics. For more information please contact Jackie Powell, IAG & Transition Co-ordinator, 0114 225 3627, j.powell@shu.ac.uk. Pathfinder for HE engagement with Diplomas Jessica Grant, Higher York In March 2007, as part of the 14-19 curriculum reform process, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) invited LLNs to submit proposals to participate in Pathfinder Projects to act as change agents in influencing Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to respond to Diploma developments. Higher York LLN was awarded funding to lead on the Society, Health and Development (SHD) Diploma Pathfinder Project. The project focused on a number of key issues including: raising awareness about the Diploma content and outcomes amongst HE practitioners in particular HEIs; consultation to establish whether the Diploma would be an acceptable qualification to provide progression to HE; contributing to information, advice and guidance communications about the Diploma; and examining the potential for progression agreements. Colleagues from HEIs and FECs seemed to welcome the opportunity to be involved in the development of the Diploma and were eager to find out more. The involvement of stakeholders outside the HE sector, such as Sector Skills Councils, enabled a more informed dialogue to take place. For example, the Sector Skills Councils were able to reinforce the message that the Diplomas are developing all the time and feedback from HE is vital as part of that process. Through a Task Group, several workshops and individual meetings a great amount of information was shared and important questions asked. In general, and perhaps contrary to popular opinion, the Diploma was received positively. Progression routes across health, social care, community justice and children’s services were identified. For progression to some HE programmes additional science A levels were recommended. Others areas, such as Law felt that the skills that the students would present at interview such as team working would be extremely valuable at degree level and later on in employment. Progression to some of the more regulated professions, or qualifications that require more previous life/work experience would be difficult. Overall, it was felt that as the Diploma developed over time there would be increased options for progression. Also of interest was that there is a demonstrable interest amongst HE colleagues for reviewing their own curriculum to ensure articulation with the learning outcomes of Diploma students. For more information please contact Jessica Grant, Director, j.grant@higheryork.org, 01904 876349 Lifelong Learning Networks Newsletter February 2008
  4. 4. Minister Witnesses Signing of Progression Agreements Jan Wise, Director, Progress2Succeed John Denham, Secretary of Sate for Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, attended a grand progression agreement signing event for progress2succeed on 9th November 2007. The event was hosted by Southampton Solent University and attended by Vice Chancellors, Deputy Vice Chancellors and Principals or their deputies from the universities and partner colleges that are members of the network. The progression agreements represented the seven curriculum groups of the network: Business and Management; Childhood, Youth and Community, Construction; Creative Industries; Engineering; Health and Social Care and Retail. The background work to the event had succeeded in the production of 29 progression agreements between colleges, training providers and HE providers in the region. Currently these agreements exist in paper form and it has taken a few months to get this far because, although a recommended template exists, each progression agreement is different. Not only is each one different but wording has to be carefully checked with receiving HE staff as admissions procedures vary between institutions. Although most of the agreements are for vocational learners studying at level 3 (e.g.: BTEC or NVQ), those in Child Care and Graphics are for Foundation Degree or HND students to top up Bachelors. The early agreements were bi-lateral but work has progressed on multi lateral agreements. These are notably in the Health and Social Care area and recognise the diverse backgrounds of potential learners. As well as confirming progression routes for BTEC National learners, they will also offer guaranteed interviews to Health learners who are studying NVQ3 with local Primary Care Trusts. The progression agreements have been welcomed by providing institutions. They are seen as giving a psychological boost to learners who are unfamiliar with higher education and unsure of their abilities as well as confirming local, unwritten arrangements between providing and receiving institutions. Progress2succeed’s website is currently being expanded and the team hope to be able to offer future progression agreements in an electronic format. Background work still continues. Each curriculum group has a Development Leader who is responsible for expanding the portfolio of agreements between providers and receivers.There are now nearly 50 agreements and it is hoped that all learners who could apply for degree courses next academic year, will be in possession of at least, a paper version by the start of the summer term 2008. For more information please contact Jan Wise, Director, 023 80319514, jan.wise@solent.ac.uk Accrediting Prior Experiential Learning to Support Progression Dr Gregory Borne CEnv and Ian Sherriff MA The South West LLN, in its work with employers, is developing a Competency Lexicon tool for supporting the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). The tool provides a hierarchical framework for identifying levels of attributes, skills and competencies, not dissimilar to National Occupational Standards. A précised version of the lexicon was developed into a workable document that has been trialled with the primary employer groups. This process involved initial consultations with groups which included the ‘Association of Devon Parishes’ and the ‘South Somerset Voluntary Sector’. The lexicon has provided users with a mechanism for identifying existing skills and knowledge which had previously been unrecognised by the practitioner. This work developing the lexicon APEL transition is ongoing. The next step, also underway, is to translate competencies recognised in the workplace into the “learning outcome” language of Higher Education. Once this work is complete, the intention is to work closely with SWLLN HEIs and FECs to regularise their APEL admissions procedures. Further details of the work can be found at: http://cms.swlln.ac.uk/asset/docs/263-strand-bulletin- jan08.pdf and http://cms.swlln.ac.uk/asset/docs/252-strand- bulletin-dec.pdf while the authors welcome contact via email: ian.sherriff@plymouth.ac.uk and Gregory.borne@plymouth.ac.uk Progression Developments Lifelong Learning Networks Newsletter February 2008
  5. 5. Monitoring Vocational Students’ Learning Experience Dr. Stefano Casalotti, Linking London Lifelong Learning Network The distribution of Additional Student Numbers (ASN) is an important task for LLNs. They are an instrument to encourage institutions to develop new courses, modify existing ones and develop progression agreements. By supporting specific students, LLNs also have an opportunity to engage with the course organisers and the students themselves in order to identify the effectiveness of the ASN. At Linking London we have set up a monitoring programme to document the students’ experience before, during and hopefully after their course of study. We have developed an initial set of questionnaires that we are distributing to the students on the courses that we support with ASNs. The first questionnaire is distributed to students at the beginning of the course and deals with the motivations that induced the students to enter the course, the difficulties that they have encountered in applying, and the expectations they have from the course. Follow up questionnaires will investigate their experiences as vocational students and hopefully we will be able to contact them after they enter or continue their working career. In addition to questionnaires, we will organise focus groups with students to investigate in more depth some of the issues that may emerge from the questionnaires. To complete the study we will also ask the course organisers and employers to answer specific questionnaires investigating their experience in working with the vocational students. Course organisers have been supportive of this project and have allowed students to complete the questionnaire during teaching time so we are achieving a high percentage of returned questionnaires. However, we are aware that our student sample (approximately 600 over 2 years) is relatively small. Hence we would be very much interested in sharing our questionnaires with other LLNs that would like to carry out a similar analysis. For more information please contact Dr. Stefano Casalotti, Health and Sports Sector Curriculum Co-ordinator, 020 3073 8372, s.casalotti@linkinglondon.ac.uk, http://www.linkinglondon.ac.uk Piloting Innovative Guidance Projects Laura Houghton, The Skills for Sustainable he Skills for Sustainable Communities Lifelong Learning hip, esearch and consultation carried out by the Network’s ce pilot hese pilot projects were identified following the request for rs. he first project, in conjunction with Construction Skills (the nclude he second project, working with Prospects in Lincolnshire ector. he third project will work directly with Apprentices and will offer hese projects aim to pilot innovative methods of engaging or more information please contact Laura Houghton Communities Lifelong Learning Network T Network (SSCLLN) is exploring three potential projects to offer Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) to vocational learners. SSCLLN, led by the University of Leicester covers a sub-region of the East Midlands across Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland. In line with regional priorities the Network is concentrating on the following sectors: Health and Social Care and Leaders Management and Enterprise in Construction, Creative Industries and Food and Drink manufacture. R IAG group identified a lack of in-depth advice and guidan up to Level 4 for vocational learners. To address this issue the IAG group are developing signposting material, organising staff development activities and exploring guidance projects. T bids for one year projects to target Level 3 learners in relevant sectors with impartial guidance. Each of these projects are currently being explored and refined by the Network Project Management Team and individual bidde T Sector Skills Council for construction), will target employers and their employees across the LLN region to raise awareness of vocational opportunities. Methods will i organisation of employer events, face to face visits with employers and establishing employee mentors. T and Rutland, will deliver impartial advice and guidance services to those who have achieved or are working towards a Level 3 qualification in the food and drink s This project will work with tutors, employers and training providers to target potential learners. T work-based learning providers in partnership with Aimhigher. Through effective targeting the project access to in-depth advice and guidance specific to construction and health and social care in Northamptonshire. T with potential learners and employers to ensure that appropriate advice and guidance is offered. It is also anticipated that through these projects employers, potential learners and training providers will have further opportunity to feed into Network curriculum developments. F 0116 2525746, ljh31@le.ac.uk www.le.ac.uk/ssclln Lifelong Learning Networks Newsletter February 2008
  6. 6. Lifelong Learning Networks Newsletter February 2008 Pioneering GMSA bring Unique Learner Numbers to higher education Alex Knight, Greater Manchester Strategic Alliance Greater Manchester Strategic Alliance, which runs the Greater Manchester Lifelong Learning Network, is to deliver a new method of recording educational achievement after becoming one of the first organisations within the HE sector to assign students a Unique Learner Number (ULN). ULNs will be allocated to every person undertaking education or training from early 2008. The 10 digit number, which will remain with each person for life, will enable every completed module, qualification or piece of training to be stored together for the convenience of students, education providers and the relevant government departments. Providers and awarding bodies regard it as a vitally important tool as new qualifications, such as the 14-19 Diploma, will mean students gain bite-sized chunks of learning from a variety of institutions and combine them into one recognised award. This mode of delivery will be introduced to higher education through the GMSA Module Catalogue project (ModCAT), which will launch later this year. GMSA Director Cath Walsh said: “The ability to award Unique Learner Numbers to learners is integral to ModCAT, which will make higher education more accessible to adults in the workplace. It’s about making higher education more relevant to employers. “In collaboration with our members we will be able to chart the modules each learner completes from different institutions, enabling them to build up credits towards a larger qualification over time. It is real coup to be able to bring this ground-breaking service to the universities, colleges and work-based training providers within our partnership.” The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills is responsible for the project which has been developed by MIAP (Managing Information Across Partners). The concept is designed to Treduce bureaucracy by sharing information on a national scale. It is hoped the flexible delivery methods facilitated by LLNs will increase both participation and achievement in education. The system will allow learners to build and edit an online portfolio of aspirations, achievements, activities and opportunities. In time, MIAP hope it will help to create a common application process, particularly needed by vocational students wanting to progress to university. The initial phase of development will focus on 14-19 year olds in education at level two and 3. The new 14-19 Diplomas, being introduced next year, will particularly benefit from ULNs where providers group together to provide different elements within one Diploma. Ms Walsh said: “This is an innovative project that will become part of the entire education landscape for years to come. Learners will also be able to combine the data collected through the ULN system with their CV and work portfolio in our online portal.” For more information please contact Alex Knight, Reporter and PR Officer, 0161 921 8040, info@gmsa.ac.uk. Directors Group A new Directors’ Group has been developed in order to share ideas on issues related to the leadership and management of LLNs. The Group, which plans to meet quarterly, will provide a forum for developing an inclusive, collective voice on key strategic issues. Future meetings will provide opportunities to discuss ideas for sustaining the work, for reflecting on policy related to the main business of LLNs, and for communicating with external stakeholders, who may also be invited to meetings. National Research Forum LLN colleagues have recently agreed to set up a National Research Forum with a remit to act as a focal point for the collection, dissemination and discussion of research being undertaken by LLNs. A programme of three Forum events is planned, for 21P st P May in York, 25P th P June in Brighton, 7P th P October in Manchester. Led by a steering group of interested LLN practitioners, each event will be open to anyone interested in this area of development. The aims of this strand of work are to • Seek ways of promoting joint research projects between LLNs including work across sectors • Act as a forum to encourage the publication or presentation of research by LLNs • Develop the capacity and capability of LLNs to undertake research either individually or collectively • Provide a research base that can begin to inform national policy in areas relevant to the LLN agenda • Create and maintain links with other agencies that share an interest in the LLN research agenda • Plan of activity for 2008 Further details of the events will be placed on the National Forum website very soon. Forthcoming Workstrand Meetings Engineering The next meeting of the LLN National Forum Engineering workstrand is scheduled for 20 February 2008, at Derby University. (Please note the date change from the previously agreed 27 February). Construction The next meeting of the Construction workstrand is scheduled for 25 February at 12.00pm, at Wolverhampton University (Please note the change of date from 27 February). Information, Advice and Guidance The next meeting of the IAG workstrand is scheduled for 26 February at 11.00 - 12.00pm, at The Open University in the West Midlands.