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student centred learning

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So now to return to the Skills For All developments, and how they link into and perhaps even transform the VET sector. One of the focuses is student centred learning, in which the students of Certificate I right through to Certificate IV courses will be able to choose their own registered training providers, and will receive full subsidy for Certificate I and II courses [basically foundation studies courses, or pre-voc courses], and slightly less than full subsidies for the higher certificates. The plan is for the funding to follow the student, in the hope that each student will be funded towards and along a socially productive pathway, which sounds very much like social engineering, or throwing money at the problem. Obviously there will be problems for the most marginalised, disadvantaged and intractable clients.

What has happened is that access to funding has been thrown open to a wider range of potential training providers than ever before, and in fact, in the area of foundation skills and multiliteracies [from pre-certificate up to Cert II], the community-based ACE sector has been deliberately tapped as the most appropriate public provider, under the auspices of TAFE SA. Private RTOs such as certain job network services are also fully subsidised in this area – the funding has simply been increased to try to drag more people at these low levels onto productive pathways. The hope is that cheaply-provided training, such as that which I’ve been given, will enable trainers to move clients onwards and upwards, not only through direct training but through RPL, credit transfers and the like. That’s why the focus has been on assessment – assessing outcomes and recognizing skills together. A Learning Support Service will be trialled from July this year to provide additional intensive assistance for those facing serious barriers to learning. As to what this means in detail I’m not sure. For example, we’ll be delivering our basic cooking program, incorporating foundation skills, to a group of clients with mental health issues. Each of these clients comes with a personal carer, and I believe we will be paying the salaries of those carers to enable the clients to attend. This will eat into our funds for delivery. Would a learning support service be able to help us financially?

Some $6.4 million is being invested in foundation skills over the next six years by the state government, creating 6,000 extra places, they hope. All this sounds great, but we’re struggling to find clients and even services that will refer clients, in order to make this upskilling occur, in spite of the crying need identified. Community Centres are being required to plug into such organisations rather than simply having an open door policy for the outside community. Of course, community centres have been associated with the ACE sector for years, but ACE hasn’t really been involved with foundation skills in this way. It no doubt requires a change of focus for them as well as us. TAFESA is also undergoing changes in structure and focus to enable it to more flexibly deliver and oversee training in the VET sector and in foundation skills. Meanwhile, some community centres are struggling with on-the-ground problems of political infighting and managerial control which are affecting their ability to focus on provision, in spite of the funding being made available. But that’s another story.

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Written by stewart henderson

September 5, 2011 at 10:09 am

Posted in education

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