Short course plans take off

Sue Learner

THE Government is pouring pound;4 million into a learning taster scheme which will teach courses ranging from toddler-taming to wine-tasting.

The national Bite Size campaign, created by the Learning and Skills Council, follows a trial run last year which attracted more than 70,000 adults to 18,500 free courses.

Lasting three hours or less, they take place anywhere from local colleges and pubs to village halls and supermarkets.

Almost 30,000 (40 per cent) of the people who took courses last year went on to further studies said a spokesman for the council. "This year, the LSC is hoping for record numbers as it doubles its funding for the scheme," he added.

The food and beverage co-ordinator at Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies, Robert Smith, is typical of tutors reporting back on last year's success.

Students on a wine appreciation taster course polished off 18 bottles. One was so inspired he decided to pursue a career in wine- tasting, said Mr Smith.

"I wanted to give people an insight into what wine is about, how it varies in its flavours and why it tastes a particular way. We did a lightning tour of wine around the world.

"What I love is when the penny drops and they get an idea of what it is about and they want more. Last year we were massively oversubscribed and I think we will be again this year."

The LSC spokesman said: "Last year, many of those taking part had undertaken no learning since leaving school and the campaign achieved its aim of demonstrating that learning new skills could be rewarding and fun."

The chairman of the LSC, Bryan Sanderson, said: "Bite Size is one of the most innovative campaigns we have come up with and I am delighted that, in time for our first anniversary, I am able to announce our firm commitment to running these free and fun introductory courses."

The courses are being run throughout England between May 20 and June 21.

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