NDTC recognises the unique needs of these learners through experience, and know that if allowances are not made for these vulnerable students we stand a good chance of losing them. Once a student walks out the door, particularly a student with issues such as low self esteem, and low self worth, whose life revolves more around surviving than any thing else, they are at risk of leaving the education system all together. Our ‘flexible’ system at times proves difficult to deliver because there are students who miss or are late to class often which means they are always ‘catching up’.
This is problematic for both trainer and the learners that take longer than average to work independently and therefore the time the trainer spends with each individual is longer. It becomes more complicated to run three or four different groups within the group and if not planned and delivered effectively, students can become frustrated and lose interest. Case History One of my students is in recovery from alcohol addiction. She drank alcoholically for a number of years and due to childhood issues and her addiction failed to develop socially and therefore did not learn the transferable skills necessary to obtain or maintain employment.
She has social problems which include panic attacks both outside and whilst in the classroom, she has great difficulty making and maintaining eye contact and often gives up trying to explain herself says things like ‘Oh don’t listen to me I don’t know what I’m talking about’. In the classroom she sits as far away from the other students as she can minimising any contact with her peers and therefore the risk of panic. It is frightening for her to have to consider interacting with her peers which is indeed a serious problem when considering how she would get on in the workforce.
We need to help her build the transferable skills needed to find and sustain employment. We try to do this by making the environment as safe for her as possible. We have made a contract with her in which she knows she has the freedom to leave the premises if she needs to but that we need to see her everyday, to have her work in the classroom as much as possible and to know how she is doing with her work. It appears the system we have created for Lesley is working. She works very hard inside and outside the class to improve her ICT skills.
Her work is well thought out, she is diligent in getting it right and often takes a lot of time making sure she knows exactly what to do and how to do it before taking on the task and produces excellent work. I believe this is because of the environment we have created. Fortunately unlike most of our students she is able to do so because she has a computer at home which allows her that freedom. We work with this students limitations by having frequent tutorials where we highlight her progress including her attempts to make it in to class often.
We make sure to have a space for her where she feels comfortable working in and accommodate her by allowing her ex-husband to sit with her on days where she cannot manage to come without being supported. The next step would be to try and integrate her into the class by encouraging group work. At the moment this does not seem possible but in the months ahead, with frequent encouragement, and the knowledge that she is safe to participate it may be possible. Also important is to recognise that fine line between support and dependence with this student.
We want to encourage a level of integrity and independence only possible by remaining aware of the learners evolving needs and of our commitment to the learners growth and change. As a training organisation our role has to be as enabler, helping to remove barriers and providing extra support where it is needed to ensure that everyone can take advantage of opportunities. We have an obligation to provide services, which act as security and foundation for personal and professional endeavour. Conclusion NDTC is undergoing major curriculum changes in line with the recent policy changes.
NDTC is beginning to focus more on low-level courses (foundation and introductory) with a greater emphasis on key skills and basic skills. There is compulsory basic skills testing as part of the enrolment procedure. Based on the results suitable classes are offered to all the students but students will not always volunteer to take this extra training. A part-time student cannot study for more then 16 hours per week and very often by the time two hours of ESOL or literacy support and two hours of numeracy support are added to a timetable they will exceed those hours.
Government has to recognise that to get people out of the ‘social exclusion’ zone they need more training and the freedom to get it. It is clear that unemployment causes social exclusion, but a job does not guarantee social inclusion. Jobs must be acceptably paid and hold prospects for the future, dead end jobs are not the answer. In order to enable underrepresented populations FE has to be more inclusive and cater to a wider range of people. The colleges have to find innovative way of attracting these parties and create a cross culture which reflects diverse communities.
The recent setting of LSC provision of non vocational and accredited courses means there will be more funding for this type of change. This will impact more greatly on the types of training NDTC will be administrating with more emphasis on basic skills and level one ICT courses. 1 P27, The OCED Observer, No 208, October/November, 1997 2 P3, Preventing Social Exclusion, DfEE, 1999 3 www. niace. org. uk/ information/Briefing_sheets/Socialexclusionmar00. html 24. 05. 02 Alex Laberge Social Exclusion /.