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Towards a Sustainable Learning Culture in Sheffield LEARNING CHAMPIONS: A VITAL LINK IN THE CHAIN source: Sheffield First for Inclusion Sheffield Learning Champions Forum August 2004 Martin Yarnit Associates MYA version 2.0 24.08.04 Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 1 Produced for Sheffield Learning Champions Forum c/o SPELL 301 Buchanan Rd Sheffield S5 8AU 0114 249 8100 http://www.spelldirect.org/ August 2004 by Martin Yarnit Associates email@example.com Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 2 Contents Introduction Summary PART ONE: FINDINGS 1 Context 2 Brokerage and Neighbourhood Renewal 3 Case Studies and Impact 4 Issues PART TWO: DEVELOPMENT PLAN 5 Strengthening the Chain 6 Quality, Review and Tracking 7 Training and Development 8 Funding Appendix: Methodology Interviewees; Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 3 Introduction What is the extent of Learning Champion activity in Sheffield, and how should it be organised and funded in the future? That is the brief for this report set by the Learning Champions Forum, an umbrella group that links to Sheffield First for Learning and Work. Specifically, the objectives for this report were to: 1. Identify the range of roles Learning Champions perform in the city 2. Map current activity in all areas of the city 3. Collate any existing data on the impact of Learning Champions’ work, including the experience of individual learners and their progression onto courses 4. Produce a development plan for the future of this work in Sheffield, identifying potential sources of funding 5. Publish a report incorporating the information above which would form the starting point for a dissemination conference to be held later this year. The report, produced and written by Martin Yarnit Associates, falls into two parts: 1. Findings 2. Development Plan. The second part picks up four key issues identified in the first part, considers the options in each case and makes recommendations. Those issues relate to Strengthening the brokerage chain Quality, review and tracking Training and Development Funding. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 4 Summary Learning champions and learning reps. make an important contribution to widening participation and engaging with hard to reach groups in Sheffield. But there is some scope for improving their impact and making better use of existing resources. This report sets learning champions within the local context, shows how they contribute to education brokerage and provides case studies of three of the most significant initiatives. The report identifies a number of common concerns and puts forward a development plan to address them under four headings: Strengthening the brokerage chain Quality, review and tracking Training and Development Funding. Recommendations Strengthening the brokerage chain 1. Area Multi-Agency Teams One way of making the connection between system change and bottom up feedback would be to create local bridge or multi-agency teams along the lines of transition teams linking primary, secondary and further education. The teams would bring together voluntary and community sector learning providers and intermediary agencies such as NUCA and SPELL with statutory providers, IAG and basic skills specialists who would work towards a systematic offer of entitlement for adult learners, on the model of antenatal care. The teams would be attached to local learning fora and would together report to ACLAB on a regular basis. They would require minimal funding, mainly for training. 2. Learning Champions: Improving Coverage ACLAB should establish a priority order for setting up learning champions schemes in all areas of Sheffield and should bid with area panels for funding from NRF and NLDC to supplement mainstream funds. Quality, review and tracking 1. Learner Centred System Re-Design This involves analysing the information needs of agencies like SPELL that combine the functions of outreach/referral through learning champions and direct delivery, and designing a system that can report on internal learner progress provide reports for funding bodies Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 5 be used to cross-reference the College system through name, postcode and date of birth at the same time attempting to negotiate a simplification of paper trail requirements so that there is one form for all enrolment purposes with optional additional sections where these are required for European funding. The costs are consultancy to design and implement the system training staff to operate it paying staff to re-input data. 2. A Sample Review And Tracking Procedure A lot of useful intelligence can be gleaned by tracking individual students through the system, looking for explanations for success and failure. Learning champions could reasonably be expected to follow through a sample of the students they had referred on through their own organisation and through other providers as part of their normal working practices. The advantages of this approach, apart from comparative simplicity, are that champions get to find out for themselves how their contacts have fared they are stimulated to consider the effectiveness of the brokerage process by learning at first hand the workings of other agencies, they are able to provide informed feedback. 3. Exchange Of Effective Practice One of the most effective quality improvement systems is benchmarking, by comparing one’s practice with others and asking searching questions about approaches and processes. Quality circles using this technique have made their mark in industry across the world. We recommend that the Learning Champions Forum reconstitutes itself as a Quality Circle, with members acting as each other’s ALI inspectors, carrying out audits, identifying good and bad practice and understanding how to spread the first and eradicate the second. Learning champions as well as managers, naturally, would form the membership. 4. Building in Feedback If learning champions have valuable information – qualitative and quantitative – about what works and what needs changing, it is important to create a systematic approach to collating, analysing and making use of it. We believe that the mechanism for doing this is for the Forum to compile up regular ‘intelligence’ reports, drawing on all sources of information, and for these to be considered as a standing item at Sheffield First for Learning and Work or one of its sub-groups. Training and Development Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 6 The proposal is for Sheffield programme comprising1: 1. a recognition framework a. that includes an achievement portfolio comprising a certificated course such as City and Guilds and a new OCN unit that takes account of learning through an induction course and on the job training and which is compatible with similar programmes for classroom assistants, learning mentors and basic skills support workers b. endorsed by Sheffield First so that it begins to achieve employer currency 2. a City and Guilds Certificate, either 9295 or 7302, or a derivative such as the WEA OCN course devised for Community North Forum , delivered at such times and places as to encourage enrolment by learning champions from more than one scheme 3. an induction course delivered within each scheme comprising a. common elements: eg Transforming Adult and Community Learning Sheffield; role of learning champions; learning providers, basic skills and IAG in Sheffield b. local element: the local area plan; our aims and objectives 4. On the job element through individual work, regular supervision sessions, team discussions on practice, visits to other schemes: a. scheme objectives; building our understanding of effective working- a framework for continuously evaluating our work (links back to overall objectives/targets and LSC/ALI quality framework b. individual objectives based on above; individual learning and progression plan c. improving literacy, numeracy and IT through day to day tasks eg keeping records of referrals and following them up d. team working; working in the community – reflecting on effective practice Funding. 1. Enrolment Fee The Learning Champions Forum should seek the agreement of local providers through Sheffield First for Learning and Work to establishing an enrolment fee to help cover the cost of learning champions schemes. 2. Hypothecating NRF and NLDC ACLAB and Sheffield First for Learning and Work should give serious consideration to reserving some part of NRF and NLDC to fund learning champion schemes, following the Sandwell model. 1 The proposal has been overtaken by events: the Academy for Community Leadership is in discussions with the Council’s ACLS and the WEA about developing an accredited training programme for learning champions. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 7 PART ONE: FINDINGS 1. Contexts Social and Economic Context Social and economic disparities are striking in Sheffield: 83,000 adults have poor basic skills 20% of the workforce have no qualification Unemployment in the Burngreave Ward is over three times the Sheffield average and five times the national rate. 40-50% of children in Southey Green live in households with no earners compared with 5% in Hallam and Ecclesall BME employment and achievement levels lower than city average eg 27.5% of BME pupils achieve 5 A-C GCSEs compared with the city average of 42% 6 0f the 9 worst achieving secondary schools are in the north of the city Sheffield Wards: Index of Multiple Deprivation source: Social Inclusion Strategy, Sheffield First The areas prioritised for Neighbourhood Renewal funding (NRF) contains 88,357 or 40% of Sheffield’s households, amounting to two-thirds of the households on income support in the city, ranging from entire wards down to small housing estates of 500 or so households. In these areas, the percentage of households on income support vary from 19% to over 40%. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 8 The 2001 census, shows that 8.8% of Sheffield’s population is of minority ethnic origin. There are approximately 3,800 asylum seekers in the city. Whilst the city’s minority ethnic population is less concentrated than in many other English conurbations, the minority ethnic population of the city is concentrated in the more deprived areas of North and East Sheffield and has lower attainment and less access to employment opportunities. Local Structures Sheffield is blessed, compared with other Core Cities, with coherent planning and coordination structures, and funding arrangements to match.2 It has one local strategic partnership, Sheffield First, which oversees a family of partnerships including Sheffield First for Learning and Work, with a remit for learning,skills and labour market issues, a unique set up amongst the Core Cities. There is one FE college and one local authority, Sheffield, that together constitute by far the biggest LSC contract holders in the area. And there is the South Yorkshire Objective One Programme that through a co-financing arrangement with LSC focuses ESF, ERDF and LSC funding on priority areas and projects. In addition, Sheffield draws down Neighbourhood Renewal Funding linked to achieving a range of floor targets and PSA (Public Service Agreement) targets. 2 Nottingham, for example, has two major partnerships: Greater Nottingham Partnership, the sub-regional economic development partnership, and One City Partnership, the city’s LSP. Birmingham and Manchester have a bewildering variety of learning providers. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 9 Relevant and notable city networks include: Area panels and area forums JobNet and learning centres Umbrella groups for the voluntary and community sector in the city. Sheffield’s Area Action initiative aims to develop devolved delivery of public services through 12 area panels led by 87 ward councillors and underpinned by area forums to engage local communities. The objective, part of the Inclusion Strategy for the city, is to create attractive and successful neighbourhoods so that by 2010 Employment levels in line with the national average No ward to have unemployment rate more than double the city average Reduce life expectancy gap between lowest wards and City average by 10% Reduce child mortality gap between manual groups and the population by 10%. JobNet is a city-wide scheme for linking people in disadvantaged areas to employment and training opportunities. Advice and information is available through local centres, some of which double as learning centres eg Norfolk Park Training and Employment Centre. JobNet is linked to Job Match, an agency in turn linked to Sheffield First for Investment, that provides recruitment and training services for incoming and expanding employers. OFFER – Open Forum for Economic Regneration - and VAS (Voluntary Action Sheffield) provides coordination and representation for the voluntary and community sector in Sheffield. VAS has a voice on Sheffield First and OFFER in the NRF and Objective 1 planning forums. Black Community Forum (BCF), represents the specific interests of Black and Ethnic Minority organisations and also has a seat on Sheffield First. Community based learning links with these devolved structures in a number of ways, often through interlocking membership. The key link is through Sheffield First for Learning and its sub-group, the Adult and Community Learning Advisory Group (ACLAB) and its sub-group, the Learning Champions Forum, the commissioning agent for this piece of work. Policy Context The policy context appears baffling at first sight with a large number of strategies and targets to take into account: DfES education and skills targets Neighbourhood Renewal Floor Targets and Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets Regional Economic Strategy FRESA - the Framework for Regional Education and Skills LSC strategy for South Yorkshire South Yorkshire Action Plan for Objective 1 Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 10 Sheffield First Strategy Local or Area Action Plans (LAPs) In reality, Sheffield First, the Local Strategic Partnership for the city, attempts to act as the filter and focus for most of the above through its family of partnerships. It also sets the city framework for the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy, Closing the Gap, from which Local Action Plans are derived. 3 The Social Inclusion Strategy feeds into Closing the Gap, with its dual focus on disadvantaged areas and deprived groups.4 The NR Action Plan builds on and extends the targeting of the top 10 IMD (Index of Multiple Disadvantage) wards which have all received funding for Objective 1 priority 4a SRB Sure Start EAZ £9.6m of NRF is available in 2004 and 2005 with a view to narrowing the gap between deprived areas and the city average by achieving the floor targets and public service agreements drawn up with government. . In the previous year, the 12 area panels allocated £1.76m. to 140 projects. Sheffield First for Learning and Work, chaired by John Taylor, Chief Executive of Sheffield College, is the learning and employment arm of the local strategic partnership, Sheffield First. For education and training, the key documents are Transforming Adult and Community Learning in Sheffield (Sheffield First for Learning and Work) Closing the Gap LAPs Together, these incorporate DfES, LSC and NR targets and PSAs whose fulfilment is linked to mainstream and special funding streams. Objectives and Targets: Education and Skills Key targets for the Learning and Skills Council in South Yorkshire include: 1. Increasing participation in education, learning and training 2. Raising NVQ Level 2 and 3 attainment of young people in South Yorkshire to meet 2004 targets 3. Raising Basic Skills and participation in learning of adults in South Yorkshire 4. Raising Level 3 attainment of South Yorkshire adults 5. HE Progression 6. Engaging South Yorkshire employers to meet their skills needs 3 Closing the Gap – A Framework for Neighbourhood Renewal in Sheffield at http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/index.asp?pgid=24293. 4 Social Inclusion Strategy at http://www.sheffieldfirst.net/downloads/inclus6.pdf Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 11 Table 1.1 Education Performance Indicators Performance Latest performance * 2004 target 2007 target Indicator Numbers of adults 2,202 10,020 19,800 achieving a Basic Skills qualification which contributes to the national target Proportion of adults 43.2% 54% To be set achieving a Level 3 qualification Proportion of adults 25.9 % 34 % To be set achieving a Level 4 qualification Transforming Adult and Community Learning in Sheffield sets out the actions required to create a sustainable learning culture and to achieve the targets set by government: 1. a first class, integrated and cost effective learning infrastructure, including an e-learning network, and facilities for childcare, offering modernised and accessible facilities, which are of the highest quality and are welcoming to adult learners 2. accessible, kite-marked, comprehensive and community based independent information, advice and guidance in support of an individual’s choice of learning and/or employment 3. a promotion and outreach strategy for adult learning that connects with existing and potential learners and which has a particular focus on hard to reach individuals and their communities 4. a full range of flexible learning pathways, with signposted routes to formal qualifications, which recognise the varied and complex progression patterns of adult learners, differences in personal circumstances, motivation and barriers to learning 5. a diverse and sustainable provider network, including organisations in the community, voluntary and faith sector, as well as mainstream funded providers, which have the capacity to deliver high quality teaching to meet the needs of learners and the requirements of external inspection and audit 6. partnership working between strategic agencies, providers and communities to produce local neighbourhood learning plans which identify clear priorities for action and link the development of local learning Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 12 infrastructure, services and learning provision to clearly identified learning and regeneration needs Specifically, the plan requires that Infrastructure needs and priorities are identified in local adult learning plans The plan notes: Neighbourhood learning plans are produced in 6 areas of the city by the Adult and Community Learning Unit and in 2 other areas by local regeneration forums. Over the next year a common format will be agreed and plans produced which cover all SCC Closing the Gap areas Development of local learning forums or focus groups to articulate local learning needs The plan notes: Presently a number of fora exist facilitated through the LEA and local regeneration partnerships but there are significant gaps across the city which need filling. Development of local learning champions/mentors who can promote learning locally and support new learners into provision The plan notes: A Learning Champions Network has been established in the city which aims to connect practitioners and promote good practice and training. Research is being commissioned to establish current levels of activity and explore options for funding and development. This study is designed to serve that purpose. Establish a Data Sharing group to allow outcomes from mapping activities, learning audits and other research to be shared across providers and funding agencies in order to inform their resource allocation and plans The plan notes: Data sharing between ACL providers around curriculum pathways, learner needs, attainment and progression would greatly improve the offer to learners in the city. A successful SFFLW 14-19 data sharing group exists; we can learn from and adapt this to develop our post 19 model. The plan lists the stakeholder organisations5 5 Transforming Adult and Community Learning in Sheffield, February 2004, p.4 Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 13 Learning and Skills Council - South Yorkshire Sheffield Education Directorate Sheffield Futures Sheffield Information Advice and Guidance Partnership VC Train Voluntary Action Sheffield Sheffield Voluntary Community and Faith Sector Education and Training Providers Sheffield Hallam University The Workers’ Educational Association The Sheffield College Northern College Open College Network Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information Services The University of Sheffield learndirect Open Forum for Economic Regeneration Local Learning Partnerships and Regeneration Forums Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 14 This is a formidable recipe for joined up planning and delivery! The list poses the question, which of these and to what extent will need to be integrally involved in learning champion developments. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 15 2. Brokerage and Neighbourhood Renewal The significance of learning champions can be best grasped in the wider context of brokerage and neighbourhood renewal. A third of adults still do not take part in any learning activity. 6 Learning champions or workplace learning representatives help to overcome the barriers to widening participation by signposting and connecting people in deprived communities to learning opportunities. The need for such a service has been recognised at least since the publication of the Policy Action Team report on Skills for Neighbourhood Renewal which argued for ‘an active approach to the engagement of local residents’. 7 Although it did not refer to advocates or champions, it did single out the key role of sympathetic information, advice and guidance delivered through local learning centres and other outlets and noted the contribution of voluntary and community organisations to engagement by virtue of their closeness to local residents. (Para. 146). ). More recently, the government report, Adult Skills in the 21st Century, suggests that ‘individuals who have not engaged in formal development activities for some time are best reached through intermediaries in their workplace or community’.8 Later, referring to Union Learning Representatives, (ULRs) it states ‘the concept of peer advice that underpins ULRs is one which could be usefully adopted in small and non unionised settings’. It goes on: The apparent success of ULRs in promoting learning in the workplace suggests that something similar might be effective in developing demand for learning in local communities. This could be particularly effective when combined with other initiatives: to minimise the impact of redundancies; to support community renewal or regeneration; and to promote entrepreneurship and co-operative enterprise in communities isolated from the wider economy. A Definition The evaluation of the Adult and Community Learning Fund notes amongst the success factors ‘the importance of direct person-to-person recruitment, 6 See: Fixing or Changing the Pattern: Reflections on Widening Adult Participation in Learning by Veronica McGivney (NIACE, 2001), Chapter 2 7 Policy Action Team on Skills (1999). Final Report. London. DfEE. See: http://www.lifelonglearning.co.uk/pat/index.htm para.46 8 Performance and Innovation Unit, Cabinet Office, para. 248-352 at http://www.strategy.gov.uk/su/wfd_1/report/6.html Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 16 drawing on existing networks and contacts’. 9 Link Up, the basic skills volunteer programme that has operated in Sheffield, refers to ‘people who are active in their local community or workplace and who are often trusted and respected by others. These are the ideal people to guide and support their friends, neighbours and colleagues towards appropriate learning opportunities’.10 The definition used for this study is: Learning Champions are those who engage directly with learners or potential learners, help them to decide how to meet their learning needs and point them towards suitable learning programmes. Characteristics of Learning Champions agreed by the Sheffield Learning Champion Forum are They have direct contact with local residents They may be paid or unpaid They have local credibility, usually by virtue of local contacts/networks/shared experience They may have higher qualifications including degrees.11 This definition does not rule out people with degrees – they may be adult returners for example – but it does rule out managers and others who do not do the day to day contact/signposting/support work. Brokerage Chain The ACLF evaluation also refers positively to the impact of intermediary bodies, broadly community-based organisations, not all of them with a narrowly defined educational purpose, in achieving success. The importance of brokerage in widening participation cannot be under-estimated. A recent study by Staffordshire University on behalf of the Learning and Skills Research Centre identifies a range of brokerage functions and sets out a process framework within which it is useful to locate learning champion schemes.12 The report argues that The essence of brokerage is to mediate between learners and providers. This involves being able to both interpret the needs of potential learners and to understand and influence the bigger picture, in terms of what learning opportunities could and should be available to them. Learning brokerage is also context-specific, and operates differently in the 4 key domains under study: community, work, educational institution and voluntary sector. 9 See: http://www.lifelonglearning.co.uk/aclf/eval.htm 10 See: http://www.linkup-volunteers.org.uk/cms/cms.asp?m=109 11 Minutes of the Steering Group meeting for the research project, 28 May 2004. 12University of Staffordshire (2003) Learning Brokerage: Building bridges between learners and providers - Report on Work Package One (unpublished manuscript) Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 17 Working across the 4 domains is desirable and a key role of learning brokerage. However this requires robust partnerships that can be challenging to develop and sustain. The Staffordshire University report sets out a six-stage process framework based on a review of the literature (p.3): 1. ‘Understanding the current situation’: This stage involves undertaking essential groundwork to identify who is currently learning and what, and who is providing the learning opportunities and what are the gaps. Key activities within this stage include research, targeting, consultation and collaboration. 2. ‘Gaining entry and building trust’: At this point in the process access to potential learners is sought and relationships of trust developed. This stage involves ongoing consultation, negotiation with gatekeepers, exploring and establishing informal links, and establishing relationships with formal brokers. 3. ‘Making learning meaningful’: This stage involves working at a deep ‘identity’ level with potential learners, and key processes include: engaging with potential learners to develop informed understanding, linking learning opportunities to the context of their lives, developing awareness of structural barriers, using strategic approaches such as informal learning, and being tactical and starting from where people are at. 4. ‘Identifying the right learning opportunity’: Successful brokerage involves raising potential learners’ awareness of meaningful and appropriate learning opportunities and also helping providers to develop appropriate provision. Brokerage may help learners down formal pathways, or more informally, helping them to create the pathway themselves. 5. ‘Promoting learner success’: The brokerage process extends beyond entry into a learning situation and includes on-going work with learners and providers e.g. developing appropriate pedagogy and curricula, and building social networks of learners. 6. ‘Addressing organisational issues’: Brokerage implies and requires organisational development and change. Key issues identified are capacity building for all those involved in brokerage, partnerships and collaboration, using IT effectively in brokerage and monitoring and evaluating brokerage. Learning Champions and similar schemes operate mainly at stages 3 and 4 where detailed understanding of the learner’s context and aspirations is essential to progression to the later stages. The value of the framework is that it demonstrates that learning champions ideally operate as part of a brokerage system whose effectiveness depends on a number of smoothly interlocking elements, an issue that will be considered later in the report. Neighbourhood Renewal A key context for learning brokerage is neighbourhood renewal not just because the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) provides supports so many schemes but also because it provides a framework of skills and knowledge, Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 18 the Learning Curve, which is relevant to brokerage and learning champions in a number of ways.13 Although not all areas of Sheffield are eligible for NR or Objective 1 funding, most to some extent share the problems of poor service delivery and poor take up of educational and employment opportunities. The growing emphasis across the city on local action plans, social inclusion strategy and neighbourhood service delivery is bound to strengthen interest in the NR approach. The Learning Curve defines the skills and knowledge needed by all participants in NR and sets out a plan for delivering them, beginning with local strategic partnerships and their partner agencies including policy-makers in government and elected members of local authorities. Sheffield First’s Skills and Knowledge Plan embodies a recipe for understanding and taking part in NR that should be reflected in training and development programmes for learning champions. In particular, the Learning Curve’s focus on achieving strategic change in mainstream service improvement should be an explicit connecting strand between the Sheffield First Plan, the Adult and Community Learning Plan and the training of learning champions. Strategic brokerage is vital if the understandings of learning champions and others in the brokerage process are to be turned into lasting service improvements. A second connection between Neighbourhood Renewal and learning champions is about employment. The Learning Curve notes that There are no national occupational standards and associated vocational qualifications in neighbourhood renewal, nor means of validating the experience gained by residents. Not everyone will want a vocational qualification, but there is no provision for those who do. (p36) At stake is the need to improve residents’ employment prospects: The learning framework will provide a means through which work done voluntarily by residents can be valued and accredited in a way that helps give access to the employment market.14 This may well mean tackling ‘the restrictions imposed by professional or qualification standards agencies. Pathways need to be established to provide opportunities to become ‘para professionals’, assisting professionals in their jobs as a way in to entering employment in local services. The engagement of teaching assistants in schools has been a good example of this approach. A second example is the Chartered Institute of Housing’s proposals to enable residents to validate experience in order to obtain professional status and employment in Registered Social Landlords’. 13 ODPM/NRU (2002) The Learning Curve, Developing Skills and Knowledge for Neighbourhood Renewal 14 The Learning Curve Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 19 There are other ways of creating employment in disadvantaged areas, but developing new career paths is important in two respects: first, because public sector employment is set to grow over the coming three years following the Chancellor’s review of public sector spending, and second because enabling local people to achieve leadership in service management is likely to be an ingredient in service improvement. Generic pathways need to be established to open up choice, linked to access to FE and HE. Learning champion schemes should be constructed, therefore, to promote progress into established career paths in a wide variety of fields, not just education. At this point, the paths trodden by learning champions and workplace learning representatives might be expected to meet but rarely do. Both are performing essentially the same role, sometimes unwittingly working alongside people from the same workplace and community, with a shared interest in promoting learning as a way of improving prospects at work and at home. A first step in exploring the links could be to bring together workplace learning reps and learning champions in Sheffield to discuss who they work with and how. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 20 3. Case Studies and Impact In this chapter we provide case studies of the two largest schemes – SPELL and Burngreave Community Learning Campaign - illustrated with interviews with managers and learning champions, showing how they operate and the challenges they face. A number of common concerns are identified that are looked at in more depth in the next chapter of the report, Issues. We then go on to attempt to quantify the impact of learning champions schemes. Currently, there are seven Learning Champions schemes in Sheffield. Two of these, SPELL and Burngreave Community Learning Campaign (BCLC), are amongst the largest in the country, employing between them 35 people as learning champions full or part-time. These two schemes alone cost annually £497011 to run, an indication that they and their funders believe in the benefits of the approach.15 All are employment schemes except Link Up which trains and supports volunteers. Two further schemes, are on the stocks, to be based at NUCA (Netherthorpe and Upperthorpe Community Alliance) and Voluntary Action Sheffield. In addition, there are a number of workplace learning reps., organised mainly through UNISON, including 25 alone in the City Council. Between them, these schemes cover most of the priority wards plus wards or parts of wards that have high concentrations of disadvantage such as Netherthorpe, Birley and Mosborough. But Not all wards are covered eg Brightside and Darnall Some wards are very much better provided for than others, notably those served by SPELL and BCLC. Table 3.1: Learning Champion Schemes in Sheffield Scheme Number Type Area/Forum SPELL/CNF 16 9 Recruitment and Southey Green, Support Workers (3 Owlerton, and some managed on behalf parts of Firth Park of Community North and Nethershire. Forum- CNF); (SOAR and 4 Learning Campaign Community North Workers (Basic Forum) Skills) 3 Learning Mentors All paid: £14602 FTE Burngreave 18 18 Community Burngreave Community Learning Learning Assistants (Burngreave New Campaign paid £12,230 with on- Deal for costs Communities) Base Green TRA and 5 4 with Handsworth Handsworth Forum Handsworth Forum Forum, 1 with Base 15 This is the cost of employing the learning champions; management and running costs are in addition. SPELL: 16 FTEs at an annual total of £276,864 including oncosts.. BCLC: 18 assistants at an annual cost of £220147 with oncosts. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 21 (managed through Green TRA Sheffield Adult and Community Learning Service) Link Up 400 Skills for Life City wide but more volunteers (support, than 50% reside in networking, priority wards signposting) Heart of 3 Outreach and Park? Arbourthorne support around UKOnline Centre Part-time – 18.5 hours Norfolk Park Training 2 2 part-time Castle? and Employment Mainly Norfolk Park, Project Arbourthorne, but beginning to work with Gleadless Valley and Heeley. Sheffield College 4 3 in Mosborough Mosborough Frecheville Townships; Birley? 1 in Low Edges part-time What do they do? What exactly do learning champions do? The answer, judging by our interviews and the questionnaires returned, is a core of functions straddling several parts of the brokerage chain16: ‘Making learning meaningful’: This stage involves working at a deep ‘identity’ level with potential learners, and key processes include: engaging with potential learners to develop informed understanding, linking learning opportunities to the context of their lives, developing awareness of structural barriers, using strategic approaches such as informal learning, and being tactical and starting from where people are at. ‘Identifying the right learning opportunity’: Successful brokerage involves raising potential learners’ awareness of meaningful and appropriate learning opportunities and also helping providers to develop appropriate provision. Brokerage may help learners down formal pathways, or more informally, helping them to create the pathway themselves. ‘Promoting learner success’: The brokerage process extends beyond entry into a learning situation and includes on-going work with learners and providers e.g. developing appropriate pedagogy and curricula, and building social networks of learners. We can see this more clearly by examining the work of two of these initiatives. SPELL SPELL (Supporting People into Employment and Lifelong Learning) is a voluntary organisation working in the North East of Sheffield, serving the 16 University of Staffordshire (2003) Learning Brokerage: Building bridges between learners and providers - Report on Work Package One (unpublished manuscript) Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 22 council wards of Southey Green, Owlerton, and some parts of Firth Park and Nethershire. The area is a designated area of deprivation and as such has attracted Single Regeneration Budget monies and Objective 1. SPELL runs one of the two largest employed learning champions schemes in Sheffield, and the longest established. Despite organisational and funding changes since it was set up in 2000, SPELL continues to place a high premium on the value of learning champions to its overall aim which is to support local people into employment and lifelong learning, with 50% of its staff of 34 accounted for by the Recruitment and Support, Learning Campaign and Mentoring teams. Three of the RAS workers are managed by SPELL on behalf of Community North Forum (CNF), a voluntary body that promotes community involvement and improvement projects in the adjacent ward of Nethershire.. The champions operate through a rich net of local partnerships including Primary and secondary schools Sheffield College WEA Sheffield New Futures Sure Start GP surgeries and clinics Job Centre Plus Job Net Working Men’s Clubs Tenants and Residents Associations (TARAs) Churches Main Ways of Making Contact Door knocking is a big activity for the Recruitment and Support workers– they aim to cover the entire area every six months. BW’s first week consisted of door knocking with a colleague, 100-200 houses a day. Extending the area covered is a constant aim: CNF now trying new areas such as Wincobank. RAS workers distribute a brochure about learning opportunities every fortnight on average through local networks such as TARAs and schools, and house to house in streets they have recently knocked. Periodic events like Adult Learners Week awards ceremonies are designed to involve the whole family. Word of mouth and knowing the people and the area is vital: residents refer you to neighbours one worker got talking to a man walking his dog and signed him up for a course another signed up woman in a florists shop to a floristry course. DN, who has lived on the Flower Estate for 50 years, says that ‘You can press information on them because you are not an outsider’. Another (JN): ‘People come up to you in the supermarket: “I’m doing that course you suggested”’. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 23 Successes include a girl with learning difficulties, living alone, who is now doing a basic skills course, or a woman who signed up for an ESOL course. Experience over the last four years has demonstrated the need for three distinctive but interrelated functions The Recruitment and Support Team provides the bedrock for the whole operation, carrying out promotion campaigns such as Adult Learners Week events and door knocking. Their work corresponds to the first two parts of the brokerage chain set out above. Basic Skills Working alongside them, and focusing on those who need help with basic skills is the Learning Campaign Team. Their role includes : Personal skills assessments Guidance and enrolment onto a course either at Sheffield College or in the community One to one and/or classroom support Reading support with a reading ‘buddy’ Summer school (2 days per week July/August) The ‘move on’ course to get a level 2 qualification (a 10 week brush up and revision course leading to a GCSE equivalent) Parent literacy and numeracy classes; helping children with homework. A typical basic skills student can expect to receive 30 hours of support through their period of engagement, in addition to course hours: Signposting – 1 hr. Recruitment – 1 hr. Initial assessment – 1 hr. Support for retention and achievement – 25 hrs. Progression – 2hrs.17 Basic skills has been offered through a variety of outlets including local primary schools, sweet manufacturer Trebor Bassett (in the works canteen) and in Parson Cross College during the summer. The third team, the Learning Mentors, provide support for those who have committed to a learning programme, typically at level 2 or 3 and above- promoting learner success, in brokerage terms. Brokerage and Funding SPELL’s brokerage role has been changing, largely in response to financial pressures. The first shift has been a tighter focus on employability and the local labour market, reflecting the clear requirements of the funding agencies. Managers 17 See: Basic Skills Application to LSC, Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 24 talk about the opportunities opened up by Sheffield’s construction boom if they are geared up to help people into training and apprenticeships. 18 Recent developments include fast-track vocational courses in computing and the Equal construction training programme run in partnership with the City Council’s Employment Unit and Rebuild, a local social enterprise. Originally set up to broker access for local people into education and training, SPELL has increasingly come to accept the need to take part in direct delivery itself. This is for educational and financial reasons: Meeting the demand for programmes that are not offered by other providers eg non-vocational courses, ESOL The need to cover its costs through direct delivery. So, SPELL’s learning champions are now working to recruit for their host organisation as well as other providers. There is also a growing role for SPELL brokering relations between community initiatives and funding agencies. It has taken on the responsibility of managing the school-based Raising Achievement Project, the Monteney Community Workshop and the CNF RAS workers. The Project Manager chairs ACLAB, the Community-based Learning sub-group of Sheffield First. Other managers are looked to to build and sustain local childcare planning and the learning centres network. The organisation also hosts visits from other local organisations seeking help and advice, and from the Cabinet Office and DfES. Quality SPELL has made good progress on quality: It has achieved IiP and MATRIX standards it has gained a level 2 rating in its CIF audit. It is also working to develop a quality circle though the Common Inspection Framework as part of the Learning Centres Network. All teams are represented on its Continuous Improvement Group with its remit to assess and develop policies and procedures to ensure effective service provision. SPELL employs a monitoring worker to manage the database which is designed to the requirements of the Objective 1 programme, who will not only track the outputs but also the progress of the beneficiaries. All SPELL employees are required to maintain regular time sheets and provide a work report on a monthly basis. Annual assessments by external consultants have helped it to improve MIS so that it can comply with the reporting requirements of funding bodies. This is a significant achievement and learning experience that other organisations can and do benefit from. 18 Interview with Lorraine Snape and Shirley Hallam, 13 May 2004. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 25 Needless to say, there is still scope for improvement, especially in relation to data that could be held internally. SPELL’s management information system has evolved to meet the needs of funding bodies for output and audit information. But there is a growing interest in tracking student progression and for the kind of impact data that will help to guide there is little hard data about managers and staff when it comes to deciding how to target resources. Data that can provide answers to questions like, are some workers more effective than others, and is this a reflection of the areas they work or the way they work? Training and Development In the past, SPELL’s learning champions completed the City and Guilds 9281 learning support course, and more recently some RAS workers and learning mentors as well. In addition, the SPELL/CNF workers have attended periodic courses such as dyslexia (1 day a week for six weeks) and in-house College courses. But there is currently no core training programme. Much training is carried out on the job (‘in at the deep end’) and through shadowing. There is insufficient time for regular, frequent supervisory sessions, with only three managers available to supervise 42 staff, but learning champions do work to a weekly timetable agreed with their supervisor.19 Despite the lack of time for career development planning, SPELL does provide a valuable springboard with many staff gaining promotion by moving to other organisations. If an established and relatively well resourced organisation such as SPELL experiences such difficulties, it is hard to see how much smaller organisations can fare any better. Sheffield requires a training and development framework that can meet the needs of the city’s wide range of learning champion schemes. We return to this later. Burngreave Community Learning Campaign The Burngreave Community Learning Campaign was started in February 2003 to address the problem of the low level of participation in education by local residents. It was estimated that up to 2500 of the residents needed to improve their basic skills and 1000 adults required NVQ3 or equivalent to gain access to further learning or employment. Four ethnic groups predominate locally: Pakistani, Somali, Yemeni and (mainly poor) White British. Funded through New Deal for Communities, the core of the Campaign is a team of 18 community learning assistants recruited from local unemployed people who act as learning brokers. Their job is to help to recruit hard to reach potential learners and to support them through the initial stages of learning programmes. This is the largest team of learning champions concentrated in such a small area in the country as far as we know.20 Partnership is vital to this role, with four school-based community education coordinators, with Sheffield Futures for IAG, with the City Council’s Adult and 19 Interview with Lorraine Snape and Shirley Hallam, 13 May 2004. 20 There are 18 learning champions covering the whole of Sandwell. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 26 Community Learning Team, with Sheffield College, a course provider for the assistants and for would-be learners in the area, and Burngreave New Deal staff. Crucial to the Campaign is its developing relationship with local community organisations, with which the assistants work closely. The Campaign lists 41 local organisations with which it collaborates as well as city- wide agencies. The community learning assistants divide their time between campaign work and training. The work involves door knocking, delivering newsletters about learning opportunities and organising campaign events such as Adult Learners Week and IT taster sessions. The training enables them to identify and sign-post people with basic skills problems – this is an area where more than 100 languages are spoken in addition to English with many recent arrivals from abroad – and to qualify for higher education through Sheffield College’ access programme. The Campaign’s success reflects several factors: a multi-ethnic staff team, mirroring the diversity of the population, including many language skills the size of the team and the resources devoted to the project: £1.266m. over the 24 months of the first cohort of assistants – including an annual salary with on-costs of £12230.21 a strong local tradition of community education, including a previous initiative – the Community Literacy Campaign – that in many ways laid the basis for the Community Learning Campaign and created a local hunger for learning effective, vigorous and systematic outreach work a broad and inclusive partnership to support engagement, outreach, advice and provision. The Burngreave experience highlights a number of issues that need to be addressed to improve impact. Brokerage Although the brokerage chain is already well developed in Burngreave, especially for ESOL, basic skills and first rung learning, there is still some way to go in linking learning and employment, and particularly in embedding employability programmes and links with Job Centre Plus. Quality It is also unclear how and to what extent early messages about adapting provision to local needs are relayed to and acted on by Sheffield College and other smaller providers. Current record keeping systems, a problem for all these initiatives, do not facilitate the tracking of individual learners or the 21 Learning assistant salaries account for just over 30% of projected costs; the rest is accounted for by management team posts, management costs and running costs. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 27 detection and analysis of patterns of success and failure. What works is derived largely from anecdote. This also applies to what works in terms of engagement and outreach given that the lack of data about individual assistant’s impact. However, this is recognised as perhaps the key challenge for the initiative and there are plans to ‘a) Agree individual delivery targets with each assistant as their share of overall targets. Members of core staff will also have targets b) Track individual and team performance, using weekly-planning sheets, service level agreements, annual plans and agreed targets c) Construct a wider framework of outputs and planning packages for the year’.22 Training and Development As a second cohort is recruited, the initiative is re-designing the training programme with Sheffield College. There are three lessons from the first cohort: there need to be realistic expectations of the starting level of attainment of learning assistants with effective support for basic skills including the techniques of learning to learn. In particular, the level 2 English and Maths requirement has been a stumbling block for c. 90%23 more attention needs to be given to essential work skills including outreach techniques, basic skills identification and record keeping the ratio between learning campaign work and training needs to be adjusted from 50:50 to 60:40. Funding The success of the Community Learning Campaign in engaging and recruiting hundreds of local people has generated an increasing demand for learning that goes beyond existing funding from New Deal and the LSC. But, uniquely, funding for the Burngreave learning assistants themselves is now assured for a further two years. Quantifying the Impact This section attempts to quantify the impact of Learning Champions initiatives on the champions themselves learners providers/provision. 22 Four Year Development Plan , p.8 23 Phone interview with Jill Raistrick, 16 July 2004. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 28 Problems with tracking and data collection mean that it is relatively easy to trace the impact on learning champions and very difficult to do so in relation to learners and providers. This is an issue that needs to be addressed. The framework for this section is a set of impact criteria agreed with the steering group for this project: 1. Champions – qualifications/employment gained 2. referrals made to signposting agencies 3. referrals leading to enrolment, achievement and retention 4. courses or programmes set up 5. other changes in provision as result of feedback from LCs. Eg new courses; new approaches 6. long-lasting changes in learning culture – attitudes and behaviour – of providers and learners, as measured through baseline survey and periodic evaluations The Learning Champions SPELL/CNF What has been the impact of their experience on the learning champions themselves? All are besotted with the job: ‘This isn’t work, it’s a passion – being paid is a bonus.’ (DH) It’s done us all good, given us confidence. We feel part of what’s going on- people come up to us in the street to discuss their options. (BW) He adds, significantly, ‘When you get paid to do the job, people take notice. As a volunteer, you’re only a number’. Originally, the four RAS workers we interviewed had been an ex-BT engineer, an admin. assistant at Help the Aged, a community link worker in a local primary school, and a housewife. JN sees herself doing the job indefinitely, but others see being a learning champion as a stepping stone. DH now wants to do a teaching qualification in basic skills. BW sees himself becoming a tutor or mentor. Looking at the RAS workers as a group, qualifications include: DH - MOS 2OCN credits JN - Spanish 1 OCN; MOS 3 OCN DP - ECDL; New CLAIT; Delivery of Learning (C&G 7302) JP - Intro to the PC; Family Home Visitor CB - New CLAIT; NVQ3 Teacher training; ECDL Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 29 JB - ECDL; OCN2 Spreadsheets; MOS, JC - Using the pc OCN 1; word processing OCN 1 One of the current learning mentors employed by SPELL, AC exemplifies the pathways opened up by integrated local provision. Beginning with entry level courses at a local school, she went on to complete an HE access course, took a first class degree and then found employment with SPELL Burngreave Community Learning Campaign The experience of working with the Campaign has had a marked effect on many of the Community Learning Assistants. ZG describes herself as a ‘High School drop-out’ (of Somali heritage, she was brought up in Toronto, Canada) who got a fresh start through BCLC. Unemployed, like the other CLAs when the project started, she is now completing an HE access course at the College and hopes to go on to do a social work degree. Has learnt a lot about South Yorkshire, ts de- industralisation and the social and economic consequences. Would like to see a centre for Somali young people set up. Despite teething troubles with the training and access programme for the Community Learning Assistants, this was the position as of July: One person is starting employment this September 04 as a teacher in Lincolnshire, another CLA is starting a PGCE full time course from Sep 04. 3 CLAs waiting their GCSE equivalent results 3 CLAs waiting their counselling course moderation 1 CLA awaiting Access Course Certificate; 3 CLAs gained 5 credits @ level 2 & 3 and others gained 4 credits @ level 2 & 3 (Some CLAs still have to complete their course work and submit their folders for moderation) 8 CLA are on level 4 access course scheduled to be completed at end of July. This course is a Level 1 Degree Equivalent. 3 CLAs completed CLAIT course 18 CLAs completed Linkup course @ level 1 & 8 CLAs completed Linkup course @ level 2 RS is another drop-out, from science A levels at the College. He ‘went home’ to the Yemen to get married, returned to Sheffield and was recruited as a volunteer ESOL teacher at the Yemeni Community Centre. Also involved in youth work with his community and runs an informal learning group at his mosque. Community leaders encouraged him to apply for a post with the Community Learning Campaign. Now considering a degree in law or social science. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 30 Link Up Link Up, a national scheme that has now ended, was set up to identify and train volunteers to help support and signpost basic skills students. Link Up has trained 400 volunteers, more than 50% from deprived wards, since the project began in November 2002, 83 of whom have gone on to gain the City and Guilds 9295 Adult Learner Support level 1 qualification and 23 the level 2. Six have gained employment as a direct result of their work with the project, 12 have gone on to qualify as basic skills teachers whilst 10 have gone on to degree and other courses. Two particularly interesting cases that show the difficulty of predicting progression paths are from a cohort of asylum seekers and refugees trained through the Sheffield College Equal Project. One was a fine art student in her country of origin and enrolled at Sheffield College on an art course. She says that taking part in the Link Up training gave her the confidence to go to the University and enrol on a degree course. Another man from the same group said having taken part in Link Up had encouraged him to take on a professional qualification to become a chartered civil engineer, which was his profession in his country of origin.24 In addition, Link Up has equipped 77 frontline workers from agencies such as Job Centre Plus and Burngreave Community Learning Campaign (learning assistants) in basic skills referral techniques. TR, a local Adult Learners Week award winner, exemplifies the transformatory experience of being able to help others. In 2001, she enrolled for an introductory IT course. At the time of the interview (May 2004) she was employed in the Link Up training team. In between, she had got a reception job in a local community organisation, helped a friend who was a heroin addict to exchange drugs for learning (basic English and Maths) and fired up her son who was now doing well in Y9 at school. Her ambition is to become a solicitor. PM, convalescing after a major operation, had been persuaded to take up learning in middle age and had achieved level 2 in English and Maths. He then signed up as a Link Up volunteer, and was now a union learning rep. who used the depot notice board to share his thirst for learning with his workmates. PM had also inspired his son to return to College to do his A levels. Sheffield College In some areas, working as a learning champion offers the opportunity to take up employment for the first time or after a break. The College’s Community Learning Assistants based at the Frecheville Centre used the job to make a career shift eg from Disability Support Coordinator at a university or admin. worker at the College. Having worked before in related fields or at a similar level, this group of workers is clear about the improvements they would like to 24 From a letter from Kathryn McElvanney, joint project manager, Link Up Sheffield, July 2004. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 31 see in their scheme. They asked for more time for training, more preparation before starting the job, more team building, more structured and regular supervision meetings and better working facilities, including own phones and computers.25 Learners SPELL/CNF BW’s successes, that demonstrate the local networking function of champions, include putting a smallholder in touch with a city farm, supporting an 89 year old to complete ECDL and helping an elderly lady to get to a lunch club. These activities build social capital as well as enrolments. It is almost inconceivable that they could figure in the work programme or priorities of a conventional IAG agency. SPELL sampled its records for the two years 2002-2004 to determine the impact of learning champions on enrolments. They looked at 532 records on a database of 3398. The pie chart below shows that of this sample, 66% of all contacts were converted into enrolments and 44% of the sample enrolled through contact with a learning champion. In other words, learning champions were responsible for two-thirds of enrolments. If the sample reflected the entire database of contacts, this would imply that SPELL’s learning champions were responsible for 1495 enrolments in the past two years.26 SPELL: Impact of Learning Champions on Enrolment initial contact only 34% enrolled through learning champions 44% enrolled through other means 22% 25 Interview with CLAs, 26 May 2004. 26 Email from Alan Chapman, 26 July. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 32 Kath started to use SPELL’s Learning Mentor service when she did the Fresh Start (NVQ2) course at Sheffield college. She went on to do the Humanities and Social Science Access and has just completed her first year on a Social Work Degree course. Kath started university in the same year as her youngest son. (different uni's, different courses, different parts of the country). Her thank you message underlines the importance of sustained support for mature students: Well I did it, I reached two course deadlines in a week and I am exhausted. Just when I thought four weeks ago there is no way that I could possibly work any harder or put in any extra hours sat at my computer I had to find several more hours a day from somewhere. I can honestly say that I have never worked as hard in my life or felt the pressure I have encountered in the last three weeks. That the negative side the positive is Wow! I feel such a sense of achievement. I am quite overwhelmed. This year has brought me a new belief in myself and for the first time in my life I have choices. I w ill always be grateful to you all for your help and understanding throughout the last two years, as without your support on a weekly basis I know that I would have dropped out. Burngreave Community Learning Campaign Despite a late start, the Campaign has exceeded its enrolment target. In its first reported period of operation, from Sept 03 to March 04, it contacted 705 learners and enrolled 428, a ratio of 0.6, with an average 23.8 enrolments per assistant. However, the graph of contacts/enrolments shows a rapid take off at key enrolment periods (April-May; August-September) that indicates a capacity for impact that has helped to win the Campaign a second cohort of 21 learning assistants starting September 2004.27 89% of enrolments, for whom age data is available, are of working age. 76% are between 18-45. Somali, Pakistani, Yemeni and White British constitute 73.7% of those contacted whose ethnicity is known. The initative is successful in engaging with targeted groups who need basic skills support, have few or no qualifications, and could reasonably expect to qualify to NVQ level 2 or above and find employment. The Campaign managers intend to move on to identify, train and support a number of volunteer learning champions to work alongside the assistants and, in some cases, to become assistants themselves in time. T ot a l e nr ol me nt s a nd c ont a c t e d l e a r ne r s f or B C LC , f r om M a r c h 2 0 0 3 t o M ar ch 2004 800 Enrolled Learners 700 Cont act ed Pot ent ial Learners 600 500 400 300 200 100 0 M ar -03 A pr -03 M ay -03 J un-03 J ul -03 A ug-03 Sep-03 Oc t -03 Nov -03 Dec -03 J an-04 Feb-04 M ar -04 27 Graph and data from Four Year Development Plan, Burngreave Community Learning Campaign, 2004. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 33 Sheffield College The Community Learning Assistants scheme (CLA) is the only scheme of its kind run by the College. Started in September 2002 with Objective 1 funding (SYFEC), it covers some of the neglected areas of South East Sheffield including Scowerdons estate, renowned for its level of deprivation, as well as the more prosperous owner-occupied areas such as Thornbridge. Four CLAs have engaged 250 learners on taster courses, 150 of them on courses lasting for 12 hours or more, a considerable achievement in an area with so many people employed part-time. Learners are typically women and typically aged 50 or over. 20-25% of those enrolled have progressed beyond level 1, an impressive ratio. Childcare, a key consideration in community-based learning, is well understood by the CLAs, all of them whom have children themselves. This is a job that enables them to work around school hours and child-care arrangements, theirs and local residents’. Providers Learning champions’ experience in Sheffield can provide useful information for providers about how to tailor provision to meet the needs of people in deprived communities. To take two examples, with a growing number of people, especially women, gaining part-time employment, space for 12-15 hour a week courses is being squeezed out, particularly if there is no childcare laid on. On the other hand, there is anecdotal evidence of an improvement in attendance and retention of basic skills learners where an adult learner supporter is helping in the classroom.28 Sometimes, the distance between learning champions and providers can impede the flow of useful intelligence of this sort, although occasionally managers of learning champions schemes themselves may not be able to pay sufficient attention to de-briefing their workers, immersed as they are in the daily round of trying to fit in too many activities, ‘managing the College’s ACL provision, running the Centre, designing large numbers of taster and progression courses and keeping up with the Community Learning Assistants’, to take one example.29 The main problem, though, is that despite the considerable investment in learning champions schemes, there has sometimes seemed little appetite on the part of funders and providers to use them to inform the direction of their provision. But that is beginning to change. As the College appears to retreat from community-based provision, with the closure of local centres and the end of a central adult and community education unit, the Council’s ACL Service and Employment Unit move forward to plug the gaps in some areas of the city, working alongside the emerging network of community organisations, community forums and networks such as Job Net, using NLDC and NRF and other special funding streams. A key priority for the City Council is helping the 28 Link Up, op.cit. 29 Anne Atkins 26 May 2004. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 34 development of a framework for area planning for learning, with close links to employment and the labour market, that serves the need of the city as a whole, and not merely the well-funded areas.30 In short, the issue is how to transfer the relevant experience of SPELL and BCLC to other areas that cannot count on large scale funding from NRF or Obj1. This is an ambitious project that encompasses, to name some of the gross challenges, Linking planning for learning with planning for area economic and social regeneration through local forums and area committee Engaging local residents meaningfully in the planning process Establishing effective basic skills assessment, signposting and provision Achieving quality consistency Creating multi-agency teams able to draw in all the necessary services. This is, increasingly, the context in which learning champions schemes must learn to flourish. Cost Comparisons Discrete projects provide some clues to the costs of outreach work by SPELL’s learning champions. For example, £25,000 from the Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities (NLDC) Fund was spent on targeting 200 new learners for non-vocational or first rung courses. This works out at £125 per enrolment. A new contract for basic skills enrolments involves the employment of four fte campaign workers with a target of 350 new enrolments at a salary cost of £69,000. In Burngreave, the comparison is with 428 enrolments at an average cost of £150.31 This could be compared with North Warwickshire and Hinckley College, where champions contacted 537 potential learners, of whom 120 went on to enrol for a course during the period February '02-July '03. The total cost was almost £10,000 or just under £80 per enrolment. In Sandwell, the Council’s learning champions recruited 201 new learners at an average cost of £106.32 Without detailed comparisons, it is difficult to know what these figures demonstrate although it may be significant that the cheapest scheme employed its champions for a mere 3 hours. On the other hand, the SPELL and BCLC are effectively employment access schemes with much higher salary costs, and the financing of the SPELL basic skills programme reflects the harder job of recruiting and keeping such students. The average costs in the table below are based exclusively on salary costs per enrolment. 30 Interview with Tony Tweedy and Jayne Hawley, 7 July. 31 The calculation is 428 divided into 50% salary costs - to account for 50% of week dedicated to access course - over 7 months of £64209. 32 Learning Champions in the West Midlands (2004), Pearson, Selby and Yarnit, NIACE, p.21. The arithmetic is 5 champions employed 15 hours a week for 50 weeks at £5.71 an hour. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 35 Average Cost per Enrolment Scheme Hours worked Enrolment Average cost North W+H College 3 hours per week 120 £80 Sandwell 15 hours per week 201 £106 SPELL (1st rung) ? 200 £125 BCLC 50% 428 £150 SPELL (basic Full time 350 £197 skills) Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 36 4. Issues In this section we identify and explore four sets of issues raised in this part of the report. They are The Brokerage Chain Quality Training and development Funding In Part Two, we return to these issues with a set of recommendations for change. The Brokerage Chain The Staffordshire brokerage study draws our attention to the need to see the process as a whole, involving a range of stakeholders and actors, and to see the importance of strategic brokerage as a means of achieving lasting change in the learning system.33 If we consider Sheffield, we see a well developed set of stakeholders in the post-16 education and skills sector improving policy and delivery links between sub-regional, city and local agencies the growing relevance of local learning fora as planning and feedback mechanisms targeted funding to deliver agreed policy priorities two large and well resourced learning champion schemes but some smaller ones34 We should also pinpoint a number of weaknesses in the brokerage chain. If strategic change is the goal, the processes by which it is achieved are obscure and the contribution of the learning champions to it limited. A peculiar set of institutional relationships, centring on the LSC, the College and LEA, inhibits learner-focused change although it has the potential to lead and accelerate reform. The experience of learning champions only indirectly informs the policy and planning machinery. The ultimate goal should be to establish brokerage as part of mainstream provision providing assured routes into learning for all those who need help. But this requires an explicit recognition on the part of providers of the value of feedback from people close to the customers. Despite all the recent talk about the voice of the learner, learning champions, who offer a useful and direct source of vital intelligence, largely go unheard in Sheffield. Feedback should be elicited, collated and analysed regularly by the Learning Champions Forum and reported just as regularly to Sheffield First for Learning and Employment. 33 Learning brokerage: Building bridges between learners and providers (2004), Learning and Skills Research Centre, LSDA, p.63 34 Not to mention Link Up, a large and effective scheme whose funding has terminated. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 37 Locally, the picture is very patchy. Although, generally, areas that have benefited from SRB, Obj1, NRF and even New Deal for Communities have well developed brokerage arrangements led by local usually voluntary or community sector agencies, there are still some gaps, wards such as Brightside and estates such as Scowerdons. There should be a better correspondence between the NRF list of ten priority wards, seven priority areas and six priority estates and the distribution of learning champions schemes.(See the attached listing). In some areas, where a large number of agencies are locally active, there may be scope for strengthening the brokerage chain by creating multi-agency teams, to improve collaboration. Just as transition teams have been set up to improve collaboration between primary and secondary schools and the College, multi-agency teams involving learning providers (and learning champions themselves), Job Centre Plus, health centres and Children’s Services could bring a family support dimension to the delivery of learning and other services. Finally, two tests of the brokerage chain are the availability of IAG and the effectiveness of progression routes. Currently, there is something of a crisis of IAG in Sheffield following the semi-collapse of Sheffield Futures and the award of a new contract to an out of town agency. But, in the view of several interviewees, there has never been enough quality IAG in the city at large or in the College. This is a crucial weakness that Sheffield First needs to attend to. Progression routes are not easy given the complexity of the English system, with a multiplicity of providers and qualification systems, each with different credibility weights. A city-wide framework could be seen by some as the goal but a more realisable aim would be ‘a city-wide understanding of pathways’.35 One approach would be to map the pathways for specific employment sectors, such as auxiliary roles in education such as classroom assistants and learning mentors. Quality Despite the fragmentary nature of the data, there is almost enough quantitative evidence, when taken with the anecdotal material, to make the case for learning champions in Sheffield. But only barely so.The main gap is progression data: at best, we know how many enrolments are achieved, but we rarely know what happens next. Not surprisingly, therefore, the use of data for service improvement is weakly established. Not that there is a shortage of paper and forms. SPELL uses four different forms to satisfy different funding stream requirement. Pensioners enrolling for a leisure class may be required to complete three forms. 35 Interview with Gill Blakey, 1 July 2004. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 38 What is required is a cultural change amongst all the stakeholders, towards gathering quantitative and qualitative data in order to promote service improvement and only secondarily to satisfy audit requirements. This is in the spirit of the Government’s compact with the voluntary and community sector, including the LSC’s Working Together statement, as well as the LSC’s assault on red tape. The Learning Champions Forum should re-classify itself mentally as a quality circle and devote itself to the study of service improvement and the Common Inspection Framework (CIF) Alongside the cultural change needs to go an overhauling of data systems and forms. Training and Development There are two problems with existing training and development arrangements. Matching training to local conditions is a strength but the lack of a standardised training package probably means that project managers have to spend time unnecessarily on a task that could in part be carried out regionally or nationally. Union Learning Reps (ULR), after all, are able to draw on national training programmes that have been tried and tested. Link Up developed a national training programme. A lot can be learned from the experience of the ULRs including the importance of developing a basic skills training programme36, how to conduct learning needs surveys37 and the value of a national system of accreditation. The second problem relates to career development. Learning champions rarely stay long in the same place. Many seize the opportunity to move on, making best use of the skills, experience, networks and qualifications gained on the job. But there no defined pathways for them as there are for classroom assistants, for example, and little clarity about the best way of ensuring that they can get a foot on the ladder leading to senior posts in education, regeneration or whatever suits their fancy. This represents a waste of potential that we can ill afford. There are never enough local residents in a position to compete for the jobs that pay £20-25,000 a year and above. We need a systematic approach to this as to all the issues defined here. Funding As we reported in a study in the West Midlands: Unlike the Union Learning Fund, which has now been extended, there is no dedicated funding stream for community based learning champions. The main funding issues faced by project managers are uncertainty and insufficiency. For mainstream providers, there is the option of drawing down IAG referral fees and LSC enrolment funding to meet the costs of schemes, 36 Union Rep. Survey (2003) York Consulting, for TUC Learning Services), p.25. 37 York Consulting 2003, p.15. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 39 whereas for voluntary and community organisations, there is a constant need for inventive juggling of funding streams, a process that devours time at the expense of more useful activities such as support for champions. Even for large providers, it is clear from the responses to this survey that setting up and managing schemes is very time consuming and inadequately covered by the return from enrolments.38 Despite the uncertainty, and the set-backs, such as the demise of Link Up, new schemes are in the pipeline, at NUCA and VAS, because the approach works. We discuss the way forward on funding in Part Two but it is worth pointing out here the nucleus of a solution which is the conversion of intermediaries like SPELL into delivery agents. This points to a new division of labour between first rung providers and the others, and towards a sort of mainstream funding arrangement for learning champions. But this will always need to be aided by funding from other sources such as NRF and NLDC. 38 Learning Champions in the West Midlands (2004), NIACE, p.26. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 40 Table: The Sheffield Divide ID Ward Total Hhlds Hhlds % of Hhlds Receiving on Income Income Support Support Sheffield District Totals 221401 38302 17.3% Wards in IMD Top 10% 1 Manor 5414 1853 34.2% 2 Southey Green 5752 1798 31.3% 3 Park 5649 1754 31.0% 4 Burngreave 6582 2030 30.8% 5 Castle 6457 1897 29.4% 6 Firth Park 6964 2027 29.1% 7 Nether Shire 6756 1828 27.1% 8 Darnall 7852 1803 23.0% 9 Brightside 7130 1552 21.8% 10 Owlerton 6687 1277 19.1% 65243 17819 27.3% % of District 29.5% 46.5% Areas of Deprivation outside the IMD Top 10% Wards 11 Broomhall/Sharrow 2024 823 40.7% 12 Netherthorpe/Upperthorpe 1967 712 36.2% 13 Woodhouse 1387 495 35.7% 14 High Green 1671 508 30.4% 15 Low Edges/Batemoor/Jordanthorpe 4998 1515 30.3% 16 Gleadless Valley 4569 1321 28.9% 17 Woodthorpe 2022 575 28.4% 18638 5949 31.9% % of District 8.4% 15.5% Additional Smaller Housing Estates with High Levels of Deprivation 18 Langsett/Burgoyne 746 297 39.8% 19 Scowerdons 522 202 38.7% 20 Liberty Hill 693 212 30.6% 21 Westfield/Halfway 1280 388 30.3% Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 41 22 Newstead/Weakland 747 222 29.7% 23 Waterthorpe 488 135 27.7% 4476 1456 30.6% 2.0% 3.8% % of District - Totals 39.9% 65.9% 88357 25224 28.5% Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 42 PART 2: DEVELOPMENT PLAN 5. Strengthening the Chain In the Issues section we drew attention to a weakness in the strategic brokerage process the patchy coverage of learning champions schemes across the city. Strategic brokerage is vital if the understandings of learning champions and others in the brokerage process are to be turned into lasting service improvements. But it can only operate if the key agencies in the city are signed up to the concept in practice. If learning champions schemes are worthwhile, they should provide a city- wide service or at least, a service across all priority areas. The aim should be to embed and mainstream the service and ensure service equity. Recommendations Learning Fora and Strategic Brokerage One way of making the connection between system change and bottom up feedback would be to create local bridge teams along the lines of transition teams linking primary, secondary and further education. The teams would bring together voluntary and community sector learning providers and intermediary agencies such as NUCA and SPELL with statutory providers, IAG and basic skills specialists who would work towards a systematic offer of entitlement for adult learners, on the model of antenatal care. The teams would be attached to local learning fora and would together report to ACLAB on a regular basis. They would require minimal funding, mainly for training. Learning Champions: Improving Coverage ACLAB should establish a priority order for setting up learning champions schemes in all areas of Sheffield and should bid with area panels for funding from NRF and NLDC to supplement mainstream funds. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 43 6. Quality, Review and Tracking The starting point for a discussion about quality is fitness for purpose, and knowing when it is being achieved. Funding regimes enforce an interest in quality but it is sometimes mechanical and narrowly focused. The best approach to quality is learning what is good for the learner and tracking their progress to ensure that learning programmes are indeed fit for purpose. All this requires an approach, leadership, skills and resources that are often in short supply in even the largest organisations, let alone in the small, hard- pressed voluntary sector projects that provide a base for many learning champions. This section reviews the quality issues that directly relate to learning champions. These are The Common Inspection Framework (CIF) Record keeping Review Tracking. The Common Inspection Framework provides a way of scrutinising the entire learning cycle within an organisation and therefore of understanding how learning champions contribute to fitness of purpose in the early stages of the brokerage process. It also helps to pinpoint what counts as a good learning experience, a key factor for the learning champion in signposting and supporting would-be learners. So, it follows, if learning providers want to understand how to improve the service they offer to learners, learning champions could be well placed to help given their close and often continuing contact with learners. They know what works, why Wadsley Bridge WMC is full every night with 100 people a week enrolled for ICT courses, yet ‘College is a word that frightens people to death’. How groups recruited through the community stay together, aiding retention. The importance of not letting people down: the lasting damage caused when a tutor didn’t turn up for a basic skills course in Scowerdons, one of Sheffield’s most deprived estates. How to approach different kinds of people: tasters are not always the answer; sometimes the right starting point is a local, strongly felt issue.39 This ‘craft’ knowledge is invaluable, it points the way to a different way of doing things, of transforming our learning systems, and making them fit for people who were turned off education at school. Sadly, we have yet to hear of a provider grasping this opportunity and descending on learning champions for feedback, let alone enabling them to play a direct role in devising new courses, as one of the College’s CLAs suggested.40 A limiting factor, to be honest, is the sometimes poor record 39 Interview with Anne Atkins, 26 May 2004. 40 Interview with CLAs, 26 May 2004. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 44 keeping in learning champion schemes. Electronic systems offer vastly improved opportunities for reviewing and tracking learners’ experiences but they all depend on the discipline of record keeping and on fit for purpose recording systems. A feature of the ad hoc nature of post-16 provision is the lack of common data collection systems alongside an over-dependence on funding-related audit trails. To explore these issues in more depth, we decided to look in detail at SPELL’s experience because it can be expected to be more advanced in its approach than other smaller voluntary sector agencies by virtue of Its longevity Its size The scrutiny to which it has been subjected. SPELL’s system has grown organically, responding to new demands often from funding bodies. It has not been constructed around current preoccupations with progression. Tracking individual progress is possible but only manually so the result is to discourage review. Externally held and shared data is more problematical for tracking. Sheffield College’s role in this is clearly crucial since it is the dominant provider of higher level courses in the city but the College and the local provider or referral agency systems are far from compatible. There are two main problems: The College uses the LSC individual learner record (ILR) numbering system whereas organisations like SPELL, that receive little or non formula driven LSC funding have developed their own numbering system Referring agencies like SPELL, in any case, need to allocate a number to referrals before they become enrolments. The result is that SPELL, which does use the ILR system for a minority of students, now runs two unrelated numbering systems. Looking more broadly at the entire system, the tracking problem is compounded by the fact that students entering the FE system at 14+ come with an individual school number which is also unrelated to the ILR. No wonder the DfES has set up a working party to devise a national all-age system that is currently considering the feasibility of using NI numbers as its base. A temporary solution would be based on accurate recording of name, date of birth and postcode but even this depends on the willingness of MIS managers to carry out time consuming electronic operations to track the progress of students. The result is that Sheffield knows next to nothing about The numbers or provenance of adult students enrolled through local agencies and learning champions Their performance in comparison with self-referrals. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 45 Finally, it is worth asking, what does quality cost? If learning champions are to become an established part of the learning scene in this country, it would be useful to set a range of unit costs for referrals and enrolments. But intelligent information of this kind demands an effective review and tracking system. Recommendations Data isn’t everything and the first step is to bring about an improvement in quality systems across the voluntary and community learning sector, the intention behind the proposal from an ACLAB sub-group to create two new posts funded by NLDC. However, improved MIS systems cannot be long delayed since these are essential to understanding the impact of learning programmes. Radical reforms are costly and run the risk of being overturned by changes required by funding bodies to counting systems. That is why data sharing is not a realistic option at present. But there are three cheaper options worth considering. Our recommendation is to set up 3. learner centred system re-design This involves analysing the information needs of agencies like SPELL that combine the functions of outreach/referral through learning champions and direct delivery, and designing a system that can report on internal learner progress provide reports for funding bodies be used to cross-reference the College system through name, postcode and date of birth at the same time attempting to negotiate a simplification of paper trail requirements so that there is one form for all enrolment purposes with optional additional sections where these are required for European funding. The costs are consultancy to design and implement the system training staff to operate it paying staff to re-input data. 4. A sample review and tracking procedure A lot of useful intelligence can be gleaned by tracking individual students through the system, looking for explanations for success and failure. Learning champions could reasonably be expected to follow through a sample of the students they had referred on through their own organisation and through other providers as part of their normal working practices. The advantages of this approach, apart from comparative simplicity, are that champions get to find out for themselves how their contacts have fared they are stimulated to consider the effectiveness of the brokerage process by learning at first hand the workings of other agencies, they are able to provide informed feedback. 3. Exchange of effective practice Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 46 One of the most effective quality improvement systems is benchmarking, by comparing one’s practice with others and asking searching questions about approaches and processes. Quality circles using this technique have made their mark in industry across the world. We recommend that the Learning Champions Forum reconstitutes itself as a Quality Circle, with members acting as each other’s ALI inspectors, carrying out audits, identifying good and bad practice and understanding how to spread the first and eradicate the second. Learning champions as well as managers, naturally, would form the membership. 4. Building in Feedback If learning champions have valuable information – qualitative and quantitative – about what works and what needs changing, it is important to create a systematic approach to collating, analysing and making use of it. We believe that the mechanism for doing this is for the Forum to compile up regular ‘intelligence’ reports, drawing on all sources of information, and for these to be considered as a standing item at Sheffield First for Learning and Work or one of its sub-groups. Sandwell: Another Approach Each local learning co-ordinator will be responsible for providing information to the learning panel on provision on each town, gaps, and identifying new ways of attracting more people into learning. Some of this information will come from the learning champions, who will be recruited from the local community they serve, so that they have an empathy with them, and will be able to get then engaged, particularly hard to reach groups. This local intelligence will help the panels decide what is needed for their local community, and they will devise activity to address these needs as well as making recommendations to the LP, who in turn will inform the local LSC of the findings, thus giving the LSC a true picture of what is happening at a very local level. This in turn will help inform and shape the local LSC's strategic planning process. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 47 7. Training and Development This section sets out Some criteria for designing a training and career development programme for learning champions in Sheffield Proposals for such a programme Funding and delivery arrangements Next steps Criteria A multiplicity of training programmes are in use in learning champion initiatives, judging by work carried out in Sheffield and the West Midlands.41 Although these programmes have often been designed to reflect local need and conditions, it is not always clear that The content takes proper account of the context in which learning champions operate They mesh effectively with on-the-training They promote progression and career development Consideration has been given to using or adapting existing and related programmes On the other hand, where courses have proved their worth they should continue to be used or adapted. These points provide the basis for a set of criteria that could provide the framework for designing a training and career development programmer in Sheffield. Context There are several key features of the context in which learning champions operate that need to be reflected in training and career development programmes: Sustainable learning culture It is vital to set the overall context: learning champions are primarily about helping to create a sustainable learning culture, and only secondarily to help learning providers to achieve government targets. Jane Thompson neatly summarises what matters: Lifelong learning will be most purposeful when it is related to the ordinary concerns of everyday life, and it is not seen as something that other people 41 See the listing carried out by Trish Sharp (Sheffield Futures) and the appendix to Learning Champions in the West Midlands, NIACE, March 2004. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 48 do, or which is irrelevant. It will be most engaging when it captures the imagination, encourages emotional involvement and provides for the satisfaction of unfulfilled desires. It will be most sustained when it gets results in the form of palpable personal, social and political changes.42 The issue was summed up in an interview with a learning champion in Sheffield: She: It’s very difficult when you go into a house where there’s 10 people living in three rooms. They’re not really interested in enrolling for a course. Their main concern is doing something about their housing or getting a better job so that they can get somewhere better. Me: Were you able to suggest a course that would help them to do that or get them involved in a community housing campaign? From this it follows that an important feature of a programme must be a focus on community engagement for learning. Another important feature of sustainability is skills: learning champions need to be equipped to help others to acquire or develop learning skills including how to learn effectively alone and with others as well as skills for life (literacy, numeracy and IT). Brokerage Chain As we noted earlier, learning champions operate most effectively as a link in a brokerage chain, rather than in isolation. They need to understand how that chain works best but also how it operates locally and how to deal with its weak links. They need to understand the complementary roles that are carried out up and down the chain by learning mentors and guidance workers, for example. Partnership Structures The everyday reality of the learning champion is their encounter with a wide range of local organisations: funding bodies, schools, IAG networks, specialist support agencies, learning providers. Learning how to collaborate and to work through partnerships is a core skill. Diversity, Flexibility and Integration Sheffield is an increasingly diverse place. Training and development programmes need to reflect the diversity of learners and of learning champions themselves who come to the work from a wide variety of backgrounds and with very different skills and qualifications. Command of English is an important issue for many learners and champions, as is basic 42 Quoted in Learning Brokerage: Building Bridges between Learners and Providers, Learning and Skills Research Centre, 2004, p.34. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 49 skills generally. English and Maths has been a stumbling block for many of the Burngreave Community Learning Assistants as well as for Link Up volunteers. To qualify for the level 2 City and Guilds 9295 in Adult Learner Support, many Link Up volunteers have first qualified through the Move on programme. On the other hand, it is important to remember, there is a growing number of champions and learners qualified to degree and post-graduate level. The inescapable conclusion is that programmes increasingly must be individualised or personalised around common or core elements. In addition, given the diversity of learning champion initiatives themselves, a Sheffield approach to training and career development must be a flexible an integrated package that makes the most of the opportunities for collaboration, social cohesion and shared learning across the city sharing resources and costs whilst ensuring that the needs of individual initiatives are properly addressed. On the Job Training Sometimes despite the best intentions of scheme managers, much of the training on existing initiatives is informal and on the job, sometimes with no clear linkage with formal accredited programmes. It is clear that a major training resource is other learning champions and the day to day work. Recent research suggests that this type of activity can be more useful in improving employees’ performance than attending training courses.43 On the job training needs to be defined as part of an integrated programme and properly designed, assessed and accredited. A major element of such a programme is an evidence-based approach to self- and group assessment in order to improve effectiveness. A further element is an individual learning plan rooted in the day to day on the job experiences of the learning champions. Progression and Career Development A critical issue for learning champions is recognition. Most do the job for relatively short periods, sometimes because project funding runs out, sometimes because they desire to move on to a new, perhaps better paid job. They need to be able to convert a valuable experience into a career asset by being able to achieve a qualification, and they need support in thinking through a career path. An OCN certificate enables them to build up a portfolio of experiences and knowledge although it may carry less weight with some employers than a conventional qualification issued by a known awarding body such as City and Guilds. But more than a certificate, what is required is a recognition framework, as a report for the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit argues, so that experience in neighbourhood renewal can be recognised 43 See for example Expanding Learning in the Workplace, NIACE and the Centre for Labour Market Studies, University of Leicester, 2004. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 50 occupational standards and vocational qualifications in neighbourhood renewal can be set out and agreed learning providers offering programmes in neighbourhood renewal accredited.44 Such a framework is developing for classroom assistants but for learning champions progress is slower partly because there is as yet no government recognition of the importance of the role. Existing Programmes As well as programmes that have been developed specifically for learning champions, there are a number of other programmes that are relevant. Both should be considered before work begins on designing a new programme. The criteria set out here provide a framework for deciding what is worth adapting and re-using. Specific Programmes Specific existing programmes fall into several main categories: Community teaching and learning Specific skills Community development and engagement. The tables below provide some examples of these courses. Community Teaching and Learning C+G9295 Adult Learner Support Dudley College of Technology Sheffield College for Burngreave Community Learning Assistants Link Up volunteers Community Learning Champion Work Sandwell Council NVQ 2/3 Adult Learner Support level 2 Link Up Sheffield/ certificate Stoke on Trent Certificate in Teaching Basic Skills Link Up (level 3) SHU (level 4) Introduction to Teacher Training SPELL delivered by the WEA C+G 7302 Volunteer Tutor Training SAVTE (Refugee Education and Level 2,3 Training Programme) 44 Realising the Potential: Recognising Residents Achievement in Neighbourhood Renewal (2003), NIACE, p.5 or at: http://www.neighbourhood.gov.uk/sandk.asp?pageid=36. The reference to neighbourhood renewal is overly prescriptive in the context of learning champions but the general point stands, Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 51 We should also note the tailor-made programme developed by the WEA for the Community North Forum Learning Champions for which there is also a draft evaluation framework. (See below) Specific Skills Community Work OCN Greets Green New Deal for Communities, Sandwell Advice and Guidance Sheffield Futures Levels 2,3,4 Mentoring learndirect Not accredited Peer Mentoring and Tutoring RCAT OCN level 1 Community Development and Engagement Access to Community Work Sheffield College Community Work Skills SPRAC Levels 1,2,3 No doubt, these contain in whole or in part, a useful basis for a learning champion programme for Sheffield but a systematic review and mapping exercise is required to determine which exactly. Sandwell: Another Approach A key component of the Sandwell approach to training has been mentoring so that learning champions can become aware of their strengths. External input included the CEDC Introductory Course that places their work in national context. In addition, the champions decided to follow the accredited course offered by CEDC at level 3. This involves gathering evidence for a portfolio that can be used towards a further qualification. A focus of this course is the development of local learning plans. Finally, there was a tailor-made course, Dealing with Difficult Situations, designed for the scheme by Quatford Management Consultancy. Related training programmes There are a several related programmes that need to be considered either to ensure complementarity or because they provide a framework or elements that should be adopted. The issue of complementarity arises where learning champions may be working alongside others carrying out related roles in the brokerage chain or where there are parallel career paths. Examples of these include learning mentors (adult and school based), classroom assistants and union learning reps. Given that training programmes and career paths for an increasing number of ancilliary or paraprofessional roles in schools and the NHS are Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 52 becoming well defined, learning champions should be able if they wish to move in these directions. Otherwise, local residents risk being excluded from the estimated 12,000 regeneration jobs that Objective 1 is expected to produce, as the Council’s Community and Adult Learning Team has argued. 45 Therefore, the proposed training programme should provide the basis for either moving onto the next stage of employment and learning in adult and community learning eg to teaching in FE into other career paths eg teaching in schools or health promotion onto further or higher education, as the Burn greave Community Learning Assistants’ programme is designed to do. It should open up new and broader horizons and – let’s not mince words - ensure that participants are well placed to compete for well paid jobs in regeneration and other fields. Complementarity is important in another sense: whatever is developed for Sheffield should be capable of replication elsewhere, especially in South Yorkshire given that funding for this programme is likely to come in part from Objective 1 and the LSC. Conversely, where there are relevant programmes that work well they should be considered seriously as the basis for this new programme. Examples of useful frameworks include the Northern College animateur programme, Sheffield LEA training programme for classroom assistants and the skills and knowledge programmes for neighbourhood renewal based on the Learning Curve. To summarise The criteria set out here suggest a programme that is strongly rooted in the local context and the brokerage process takes account of diversity and balances integration and flexibility integrates on the job and formal learning, supported by individual learning programmes promotes progression and career development through a portable qualification is complementary to and draws where relevant on existing and related programmes is replicable. Proposals The proposal, that takes account of the criteria set out above, is for an integrated accredited programme comprising a core programme that can be delivered in a number of locations across the city with certain optional or specialist elements 45 Objective One: Getting Local People into Regeneration Jobs, internal paper, late 2000. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 53 induction and on the job learning backed up by an individual learning plan with career guidance delivered in the workplace. Integrated means that the content of the two elements is linked, and that both contribute towards a qualification. What is now required is a logical framework setting out the Overall outcome Project purpose Outputs Activities Project activity resource requirement. It should set out a path for making decisions about the key issues to be determined: Off the peg or newly designed or a combination of both: a balance needs to be struck here taking into account factors such as suitability of content and process, the value of an existing qualification, the costs of developing a new qualification. Two options here are to use the existing City and Guilds certificates - C+G 7302 Introduction to Teacher Training and C+G 9295 Volunteer Teacher Certificate. 7302 has proved its worth for the SPELL learning champions whilst the 9295, with its emphasis on basic skills, seems well suited to the Burngreave community learning campaign. Content: what should be the balance in the core and on the job training elements between teaching and learning, community engagement, brokerage and partnership working? How closely should the on the job element be linked to the core? How in particular should local induction training be articulated with the rest of the programme? Should there be a shared residential element? A major consideration here is the amount of time that can safely be dedicated to training in what is often a short working week. Differences in employment practices inevitably mean that training programmes must be tailored to the needs of individual projects. The City and Guilds qualifications referred to above need to be mapped against a clear definition of what is required for on the job training and induction training. What should constitute the core? There are a number of models. It is useful to compare the Community North Forum programme developed by the WEA with that offered by the TUC for workplace learning reps. Community North Forum TUC Basic skills Basic skills Learning providers in Sheffield IAG IAG Learning champion’s role Introduction to the Role of Trade Unions in Workforce Development Learning styles, learning to learn Learning Needs Analysis Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 54 Effective communication; dealing with conflict Group project (self-selected) NVQs and Assessment E-learning and Learndirect How should delivery be organised? Should there be several programmes at intervals throughout the year? Should there be a number of delivery points or just one? An Option Given the differences in the structure and working arrangements between schemes, it will be difficult to achieve much more than an agreement to share resources and training programmes where possible. Nevertheless, it could be helpful to map out a broad approach. One way forward would consist of: 5. a recognition framework a. that includes an achievement portfolio comprising a certificated course such as City and Guilds and a new OCN unit that takes account of learning through an induction course and on the job training and which is compatible with similar programmes for classroom assistants, learning mentors and basic skills support workers b. endorsed by Sheffield First so that it begins to achieve employer currency 6. a City and Guilds Certificate, either 9295 or 7302, or a derivative such as the WEA OCN course devised for Community North Forum , delivered at such times and places as to encourage enrolment by learning champions from more than one scheme 7. an induction course delivered within each scheme comprising a. common elements: eg Transforming Adult and Community Learning Sheffield; role of learning champions; learning providers, basic skills and IAG in Sheffield b. local element: the local area plan; our aims and objectives 8. On the job element through individual work, regular supervision sessions, team discussions on practice, visits to other schemes: a. scheme objectives; building our understanding of effective working- a framework for continuously evaluating our work (links back to overall objectives/targets and LSC/ALI quality framework b. individual objectives based on above; individual learning and progression plan c. improving literacy, numeracy and IT through day to day tasks eg keeping records of referrals and following them up d. team working; working in the community – reflecting on effective practice Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 55 8. Funding Learning champion schemes are notoriously prone to cash crises because of their dependence on short-term, special funding. The result is Too much manager time spent on writing and negotiating funding bids Improvised and inadequate infrastructure eg poor monitoring systems Insufficient money often to attract people to work as champions who need a full time salary and to pay childcare fees In practice, there are two sustainable ways of funding learning champion schemes: 1. through a learning provider that is able to draw down a combination of LSC formula funding, IAG referral fees and special funding such as NRF. Sheffield College’s Frecheville-based scheme uses LSC, IAG referrals and SYFEC (Objective 1) funding for training 2. through an intermediary agency becoming a provider itself in partnership with an LSC contract-holder, drawing down a share of provider formula funding as well as special funding such as NLDC and Objective 1. This in part is SPELL’s arrangement with VCTrain. There is no indication that the DfES or LSC is considering allocating national funds to support learning champions schemes although that might change were the case to be made more effectively and the political profile raised. The national Workforce Development (WfD) action plan proposed the extension of ULRs to non-unionised workplaces and hinted at a community dimension that we quote in full46: The DfES has been running 20 pilot projects targeting guidance services on priority client groups, including: the low skilled; ethnic minorities; and people in areas of multiple deprivation. Services include outreach and one-to-one guidance provision, basic skills support, mentoring and work through community groups. As part of their local strategic plans, LLSCs will review the guidance services available in the locality and identify priority client groups requiring more in-depth support. Guidance for Labour Market entrants Moving into work represents an opportunity for individuals to develop their skills and improve their long-term prospects. IAG about learning can help make the most of this opportunity by allowing people to make informed decisions about their personal development. The LSC, in collaboration with Jobcentre Plus, is currently considering producing materials to provide information on sources of advice about learning for people moving into work. These products could be used by Jobcentre Plus and workplace Learning 46 st See In Deamnd: Adult Skills for the 21 Century at http://www.number- 10.gov.uk/su/wfd_2/report/annex01.htm Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 56 Champions. Development and feasibility work will be undertaken in early 2003, with any roll-out taking place in 2003/04. Sadly, the Skills White Paper, which incorporated much of the thinking in the WfD action plan, did not take the matter any further and it has been left to individual LSCs to decide whether or not to prioritise the funding of learning champions. South Yorkshire LSC, recognising the value of learning champions schemes to widening participation, has funded the SPELL basic skills scheme but is reluctant to prioritise learning champion schemes across the board. Elsewhere in the UK, LSC in the Black Country and Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have decided to fund local schemes. The Black Country LSC provided £56,000 from NLDC to fund seven learning champions in Sandwell and Tipton and has now agreed to extend the programme across the whole of Sandwell, supporting one learning coordinator and 3 learning champions in each of the six towns that go to make up the Borough. Sandwell: Another Approach Sandwell historically has a record of low participation in learning and low educational achievement. The local LEA, in collaboration with the partners on the Learning Partnership developed a strategy for increasing participation in learning by reconfiguring its Adult Education Service so that it was able to incorporate other providers who could offer a wider range of provision that would be more attractive and accessible to the local community. This was the foundation for the Community and Family Learning Network. How it works The borough is made up of six towns, which in a lot of respects are independent of each other, particularly around the make up of their respective local community, and their needs. So the strategy created six local learning panels, made up of representatives from both providers and the community. Each panel has the support of a local learning co-ordinator, who in turn has three local learning champions supporting them. These posts were part funded by the local LSC through their Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities Fund, which had been delegated to the LP for distribution, with additional resources from the NRF. Each panel has a local learning network of providers including FE colleges, Adult Education centres, 'extended schools', private providers, and voluntary organisations who deliver learning. 47 47 See http://www.lea.sandwell.gov.uk/cfl/good-cfn.htm Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 57 So far as we are aware, there are no models elsewhere to add to the two with which this chapter begins, although there is at least one local LSC in the West Midlands and one local provider in Sheffield who are considering how a fraction of formula funding could be transferred to recompense intermediary agencies for their outreach efforts. This is unlikely to add up to a viable business model but it could provide a handy income in combination with an LSC contract for direct provision or via a consortium arrangement. We would recommend exploring the potential of this approach. SPELL estimates that it referred 856 students to Sheffield College over the past two years. If the College were to pay a recruitment fee of, say £75, reflecting around 50% of the average cost of enrolments via learning champions, that would have raised £64,200, a useful contribution to the costs of the learning champion programme, and a relatively small proportion of the income drawn down by the College. LSC Hampshire and Isle of Wight LSC Hampshire and Isle of Wight (LSC HIoW) are investing £250,000, ring-fenced from their ESFallocation, in four voluntary sector capacity building projects in Basingstoke, New Forest, Southampton and Portsmouth. Planned activities include raising awareness of LSC opportunities and requirements; tailored support packages; website; quality improvement toolkit and self-help network. LSC HioW are pursuing a number of related initiatives set out in their Strategic Plan, such aslearning champions (a project to develop 250 individuals to encourage reluctant learners to take up ‘first rung’ opportunities) .48 If this type of discussion gets underway, it will be important to be able to specify the costs and benefits of learning champions in terms of widening participation and improving skill and qualification levels. This report goes some way towards providing that information but a more detailed costs- benefits analysis is required using more systematically collected performance data. Perhaps the best opportunity is offered by the emergence of area planning and community forums and the City Council’s desire to develop a model for community-based learning provision closely attuned to labour market trends. The Learning Champions Forum needs to address this policy steer with urgency and vigour and consider how best to relate to it. Certainly, this is what its individual members are doing: NUCA’s planning is a model of its kind. Nevertheless, and given the difficulties in reaching funding sharing agreements with major providers, it may be that the best hope for the spread of learning champions schemes in Sheffield is by voluntary and community sector agencies themselves becoming providers of first rung learning, sub- 48 See http://www.educe.co.uk/pages/Finding_Mutual_Advantage.pdf Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 58 contracting with larger agencies to do so, so that they can draw down mainstream funding. One disadvantage of that approach, as one of the College’s Community Learning Assistants points out, is that you are constrained to recruiting for your employer.49 This is a matter that goes beyond the remit of this report, but it may be that the way forward is for the College to relinquish all first rung provision in the city and for this to be delivered through one or more contracts with other agencies such as the City Council’s ACL Service, the WEA or VCTrain with a suitable share going to intermediary bodies that provide learning champion schemes. This is not an argument for dispensing with the College’s services. Sheffield College is a major and effective provider especially of vocational education, at levels 2 and above.. It is, rather, an argument, for providers doing what they do best. Recommendation The Learning Champions Forum should seek the agreement of local providers through Sheffield First for Learning and Work to establishing an enrolment fee to help cover the cost of learning champions schemes. ACLAB and Sheffield First for Learning and Work should give serious consideration to reserving some part of NRF and NLDC to fund learning champion schemes, following the Sandwell model. 49 Interview with CLAs, 26 May 2004. Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 59 Appendices Methodology This study was carried out using a combination of Desk research Face to face and phone interviews Questionnaires to collect information about each project during the period May-July 2004. There were three meetings with the project steering group to report progress and refine the focus. Interviewees Who When Why Shirley Hallam/Lorraine 13 May Questionnaire: key issues for managers Snape and LCs: and learning champions; individual Jayne Needham histories; evidence of impact Diane Herbert Doreen Newbould Barry Wood SPELL/CFN Ann Atkins and LCs 26 May Questionnaire: key issues for managers Naomi Hinch and learning champions; individual Fiona Hammond histories; evidence of impact Pat Bestall Kathryn Taylor Sheffield College Kate Roberts and 26 May Questionnaire: key issues for managers volunteers: and learning champions; individual Teresa Roche histories; evidence of impact Peter Molloy Doreen Payne Philip Allen Link-Up Abi Goodman 10 June To discuss key issues in setting up NUCA proposed scheme Jenny Patient 10 June To discuss ACL role in city-wide ACL developments Mary Blacka 24 June To review survey data, training for SACLS employment (Getting Local People into Regeneration Jobs) and related issues Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 60 Tony Belmega 1 July To consider mainstreaming and funding LSCSY models Gill Blakey 1 July To discuss tracking and training Sheffield College (by phone) Ghassan Dalai and CL 6 July Questionnaire: key issues for managers Assts.: and learning champions; individual Zahra Gamal histories; evidence of impact Rafiq Saleh Burngreave CL Campaign Andy Cocker 7 July To discuss tracking and MIS issues SPELL (MIS) Tony Tweedy and Jayne 7 July To clarify learning champions’ position in Hawley the City Council agenda and to discuss SCC mainstreaming and funding models Mary Blacka and Jenny 8 July To discuss a training programme Patient Pam Ryder 16 July ULRs in Sheffield (by phone) Jill Raistrick 16 July Training programmes for learning (by phone) champions in Burngreave and SPELL John Taylor 2 To clarify learning champions position in Sheffield College September the College and Sheffield First agendas and to discuss mainstreaming and funding models In addition, the following completed questionnaires: Anne Atkins Sheffield College Ghassan Dhalai BCLC John Farmer VAS Abi Goodman NUCA Shirley Hallam SPELL Sue Law Norfolk Park Employment Training Kathryn McElvanney, Link Up Sheffield Jol Miskin WEA Jenny Patient Academy of Community Leadership Kate Roberts Link Up Sheffield Tony Slatcher Heart of Arbourthorne Lorraine Snape SPELL Glynn Stones Base Green TRA and Handsworth Forum Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 61 Learning Champions: A Vital Link in the Chain 62
"Draft Report 26 August"