51% improvement in learning centre support skills achieved from TAP courses successfully piloted by LSC and Ufi

51% improvement in learning centre support skills achieved from TAP courses successfully piloted by LSC and Ufi

The Training Foundation recently completed a series of pilot courses, funded by the Learning Skills Council and UfI. Three different courses within the TAP Learning System (TAP) were each run twice, with 36 delegates from FE colleges, learndirect centres and UK-online centres selected by UfI and the DfES to provide a broad spectrum of delegate backgrounds and skills.

The three residential short-courses (2-3days) were piloted to evaluate their potential for wider use in the relevant sector; the TAP Delivery Skills Refresher course (3 days) for FE tutors and trainers, the TAP Learning Centre Support Skills course (3 days) for learndirect centre staff and the TAP Coaching Skills course (2 days) for UK-online centre staff. The Training Foundation carried out extensive pre and post course assessment of relevant delegate skills and the Adult Learning Inspectorate were commissioned to produce an Evaluation Report. This was complimentary about the relevance of the courses for each target audience and the quality of the training itself, categorised as "very good".

"This exercise was a bold step by UfI and LSC to see whether significant improvements in training and support skills can be achieved by intensive 2-3 day TAP short-courses, as opposed to the much longer, traditional teaching courses," said Nick Mitchell, Chief Executive of the Foundation. "What the results have clearly shown, with for example learning centre support staff achieving an amazing 51% improvement in self-assessed skills, is that the TAP interactive methodology can be grasped quickly and can make a substantive behavioural change for the better almost immediately. Over the last five years, more than 5,000 trainers from the private and public sectors have achieved TAP certification. We are delighted that the message is spreading fast, and that now tutors, trainers and learner support staff from the public-funded sector will also be able to benefit by this best-practice methodology."

Michael Stark, Head of Workforce Development at the LSC, attended the post-programme review event, and thanked the 30 or so pilot delegates for their attendance and feedback. He again referred to his basic message, as delivered at the Training Strategy Conference in December 2002, that '"If we don't have consistency and guarantee of performance of trainers then everything else we do is a waste of time. Unless we have got some opportunity to demonstrate the commonality of standards across the private sector, in-house training and the public sector, then again we have no measure of future performance. That is one of the reasons why I am personally very interested in the TAP programme, which does offer precisely that."

Garrie Owens, of Kent and Medway learndirect Hub said, "The feed-back I have had from my centres who attended the various courses over the last couple of weeks has been really excellent. I have no doubt in my mind that this exactly the standard I need to have my staff in learning centres achieving and I would warmly endorse any drive to have this adopted on a wider scale. I feel the benefits to the learner are tremendous and it is really great to see the skills of learning centre staff professionally recognised."

Nick Mitchell added; "The Government's recent Skills Strategy White Paper made a firm commitment to all colleges and training providers to provide support to ensure that they have sufficient competent, qualified trainers and teachers to deliver good skills training. The TAP short-course programme, covering all the key training and learner support job roles, is now - following this pilot programme - demonstrably capable of facilitating the Government's commitment. We are delighted that LSC and UfI have taken the initiative to prove TAP's effectiveness in a comprehensive manner and now look forward to assisting many more tutors, trainers and learner support staff to benefit from its application. Doing so will undoubtedly lead to improved learning effectiveness across the public-funded arena which is what we all want to see.