Firm foundation

As a current student and ex- employee of Weston College, Weston-super-Mare, I was very interested to read the article, "Where students design courses" (FE Focus, TES, January 11).

Indeed, Weston College has a strong reputation of reaching into the community and meeting needs - one endorsed by the LEA when it contracted the college to deliver community education on its behalf from August 2000. However, it is misleading to suggest that the catalyst for this was the arrival of the new principal Dr Paul Phillips who joined the college in January 2001.

Similarly, joint European Social Foundation-funded projects enabling staff to reach non-traditional FE users go back to 1996 when the first influx of funding to the college aimed at building confidence and self-esteem proved successful in giving a second chance to some 500 adults by 2001 - many going on to higher education.

Having clarified the situation, it is reassuring that Dr Phillips intends to build on these firm foundations and develop provision in the community in consultation with the target group, ensuring that local needs are met. This task will be greatly assisted these days by the funding support available from the Learning and Skills Council for a variety of adult community education. I hope that other FE providers will follow his lead in this area, sending clear proof to Doug Nicholls, general secretary of the Community and Youth Workers Union, that adult community education staff, whether in the employ of LEAs or colleges, have an underlying set of values and a responsibility to their (potential) students and do not just provide services.

Kath Panes Folly's End Streamcross Claverham, Bristol

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