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Dance to the music of opportunity

In Hackney, a ballroom dancing class at the community centre could lead to greater things. No, not the semi-finals of the Come Dancing championships, but accredited courses in dance and performing arts, languages, literacy, degrees and work.

Hackney Community College has developed a "map" which directs students on their part-time community-based leisure courses to the accredited further education possibilities that could be open to them in the college or beyond.

Hackney runs more than 200 unaccredited courses throughout the borough in church halls, schools and community centres.

Margaret Andrews, a lecturer in childcare and accreditation at the college, put the map together. She said: "The idea is to put on the courses wherever people are likely to go. The institution can be a barrier to some students that would not normally be interested in further education. But the mapping system can draw them in further."

Ms Andrews worked on the map with a colleague for 18 months. She drew on the expertise of the tutors, senior lecturers, local authority careers officers and local FE colleges to develop a handbook which shows the related subjects and opportunities for each course. It has now been developed into a database with graphics, music and a touch-sensitive screen.

Every tutor has received in-service education and training about how to use the map and the opportunities open to their students. And some should know; one woman took a French class, and from that she did a keep fit class, and then another. She won some awards from the Sports Council. Now she is now the college's senior lecturer in sport.

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