How are colleges preparing for their new duties?
Colleges in Wales have always sought to meet the needs of their learners in a way that helps them to gain confidence and success. The changes being introduced across Wales have given us the opportunity to rethink how we do this. While the systems and procedures that we are introducing are useful, the most important part of ALN Transformation has been the training we have provided for our staff.
ALN is everyone’s business
One of the most important aspects has been training our lecturers so that they are better able to meet the needs of all learners within their classroom or workshop. We call this ‘Inclusive Practice’ and every college has been working with staff to ensure they understand the importance of their role and have ideas that they can use when teaching. This also includes understanding different types of learning difficulty and disability and how these affect people in their learning.
Colleges have been busy making sure that they have staff who have specialist qualifications and experience to ensure they are able to provide the most effective support and guidance. Staff from each of the 13 colleges completed a Masters Certificate in Autism earlier this year (a total of 50 staff!) and we have more who are enrolling for this programme for 2021/22. Each college also has staff trained as SpLD (Specific Learning Difficulties) assessors who are able to assess for things like Dyslexia and who can support learners to develop strategies to help them become independent. Colleges also have staff who can support learners in using specialist technology.
Each college has at least one additional learning needs co-ordinator who ensures that every learner is appropriately supported. These senior members of staff have received training over the last year to ensure they feel confident to do their job well.
Our support staff are an extremely valuable part of the team and each of our colleges have been delivering training to ensure they are confident in supporting young people. An important part includes developing skills in enabling learner independence. College is often the last formal education that young people receive before entering the world of work. We believe that it is important to encourage each young person to be as independent in their learning as possible.