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Taking shape, drip by drip

CASE 2: Coleg Meirion Dwyfor, Dolgellau. Ngaio Crequer reports on the results of a Curriculum 2000 survey, while colleges give Martin Whittaker their reactions to the changes

STAFF at Coleg Meirion Dwyfor, a tertiary college serving rural North Wales, are still attending meetings and briefing sessions on the curriculum changes.

"I applaud curriculum 2000. I'm very supportive of it educationally," says principal Ian Rees.

"We're not ready for it yet, but we will be in about two months.

"There's a lot of work going on at the moment, but the information is still coming through drip by drip. And we're not really clear on some very important issues."

He said key skills and how to deliver them were still unclear.

"For example, if somebody did computer studies, drama and maths, the key skills would probably be covered. Would we force them to do key skills as well?

"W're also looking at mapping key skills within courses and identifying gaps which need to be filled by stand-alone provision."

Another issue for Welsh colleges is financing the changes. "In England, the Further Education Funding Council released quite a lot of money to allow colleges to prepare. The Welsh funding council's generosity isn't quite as obvious."

He said the college should be able to bring in the new curriculum with existing staff, though the pressure is beginning to tell.

"Obviously the staff are quite strained because there is no clarity as to what the position will be."

Mr Rees also worries about the increased student workload, which he says has been eclipsed by staffing and funding issues.

"If you're talking about five AS courses, that's 25 hours straight away. Then if you want key skills you're starting to look at an extremely heavy workload."

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