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(Updated July 2009) Introduction Cumbria Adult Education has had separate First Steps funding for 3 years which has been a successful engagement tool for centres to recruit new learners. Significant changes begun in 2008/09 to this funding stream continue to impact on the curriculum offer linking to the establishment of the Foundation Learning Tier in 2010. The First Steps provision will remain non-accredited for this year but from 2010/11 all courses will lead to a qualification. First Steps funding remains very specific: it is to target those adults without “Full Level 2s” (equivalent to 5 GCSEs A-C Grades) with provision that will start them on the pathway to achieving Level 2 qualifications. This is a building block in the Government‟s Skills Strategy which aims to use learning to provide the skills that individuals will need to enter or progress within the workforce. Progression has always been an important part of this funding stream and whilst centres have been able to demonstrate learner‟s progression to FE or pcdl courses, the need for learners to progress to Skills for Life courses needs to be embedded. Additionally tutors need to be able to assist with the recognition of Skills for Life needs. What follows is the guidance and documentation that centres will need to follow if they want to engage in the delivery of First Steps funded provision over the next 12 months. Criteria for First Steps Provision All First Steps provision funded by the Service will have to include the following, mandatory elements:      A minimum of 70% of learners on a First Steps course will be adults who do not have a “Full level 2” qualification. Initial assessment, which will include a simple screening for Skills for Life issues. It is recommended that all First Steps tutors take the Level 2 Literacy, Language and Numeracy Support Award to assist with this. Information, advice and guidance as to progression opportunities Delivery that conforms to the RARPA 5 stage process Minimum class size - 6 learners per course.

First Steps Curriculum The curriculum will continue to run as two parallel systems for 09/10. Centres can run the „traditional‟ curriculum offer which has been developed over the last three years in Modern Foreign Languages, Arts and Crafts, Health and Well Being and Personal Development with the focus of engaging learners back into learning but there will be no specific curriculum leader support to develop any new courses and each module will be 10 hours Q/TL/45/CAE July 2009

long. This mirrors the length of the new range of Step Up courses which will be developed for full implementation from September 2010. Centres will be encouraged to work with partners to assist in the identification of potential pre level 2 learners but are not able to work with residential homes or partners who work with the elderly only. Parallel to the „traditional‟ curriculum is the centrally developed IT strand. Thalia Sparke maintains her role as part-time curriculum development leader for First Steps and will continue to develop the provision linked to the Step Up framework during 09/10. Centres must ensure that any tutor who wishes to offer this provision has the Level 2 in Literacy, Language and Numeracy Support Award and has attended the appropriate training. Thalia will keep all centres informed of any additional training opportunities throughout the year. Currency of qualification A learner who achieved a full level 2 some time ago and has done no learning since leaving school could be eligible for First Steps Funding They would have to demonstrate a commitment to return to learning, or to better their employment prospects by gaining higher level skills. An example might be a Mother in her early thirties whose children are starting school full-time or a male in his forties in a job with no prospects. Clearly the service would want to be flexible around these types of learners and centre managers need to use some discretion. Centre Managers need to track the progression of these learners from First Steps to other courses. Funding There is one funding band:

10 hour module:


This will cover tutor costs, premises, development and administration time. Centres are encouraged to continue working with partner organisations, who can contribute venues, learner support etc. For 2009/10 the fee will remain at 50 pence per hour for all learners with no concessions.

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Process of Applying for First Steps Funding Any centre can apply for First Steps funding as long as the provision is part of Cumbria Adult Education developed curriculum offer and it targets the right type of learners. All centres were asked to submit a planning sheet to cover centrally developed First Steps courses for 09/10. Those centres who did not submit a planning sheet have been given a target for First Steps courses and this will continue to be reported on through the Management by Exception process. Additional courses can be run but the application process needs to be followed to access funding:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

6. 7.

Information on each proposed course should be entered onto the First Steps Funding Application form (attached). The form should be sent/e-mailed to Gill Mitchell, the manager responsible for First Steps provision. Provision must not start until the application has been approved by Gill Mitchell. Monitoring will be through the FS1 return submitted termly. This will trigger payments to centres. There will be supplementary audits of enrolment forms to ensure that the right learners are being recruited onto the provision. All First Steps enrolment forms should be sent to Gill Mitchell once the course has finished. It is vital that all the information on the enrolment forms is correctly filled in by learners enabling us to check the pre level 2 status as courses that do not recruit eligible learners may not be funded. Courses should be evaluated using the Service‟s standard quality forms: tutor review, learner satisfaction forms and partner reviews in line with the RARPA process. At the end of each term, centres will be asked to provide progression information about their First Steps learners.

Contacts First Steps application forms and enrolment forms should be sent to: Gill Mitchell, Area Operations Manager, Adult Education Office, 6 Cross Street, Ulverston LA12 7LF; ; tel: 01229-404150 / 07976 062157 Support with ICT tutors/curriculum/development work: Thalia Sparke; ; tel: 01900-706104 / 07966 641333

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