California dreaming helps learners click in Clackmannan

20th April 2001 at 01:00
Teachers and lecturers are passe at the Click centre in Alloa. Staff in the transformed YMCA hall are now "learning mediators" - facilitating, offering guidance and setting the pace in a 21st century vision of education that owes less to Clackmannan and more to California.

Wall-to-wall computers and soft furnishings indicate the strengths of the lifelong learning centre, now fully open for business after a royal seal of approval from Princess Anne.

It is an educational pot-pourri - cybercafe, drop-in youth centre, adult education base, extra attractive schoolroom and training suite for anyone with a bit of commercial oomph.

Like many initiatives, the ideas come courtesy of best practice Stateside and follow a transatlantic visit by Jim Goodall, acting head of education in Clackmannan. A centre in San Diego, run by consultants Arthur Andersen, is the model now running in downtown Alloa.

"We are not trying to create a tarted-up school or college but a body of resources that allow us to make a range of responses," Mr Goodal says.

"It's about helping people to create an environment where people can come in and further their interests as learners. There is a sense in which it's not different from a cybercafe but what makes it different is that we have got determined ideas how we want to use it."

The four learning mediators have worked with primary pupils on enterprise projects, adults on return to learning courses that invariably involve basic keyboard skills and senior pupils on after-school study support sessions. The centre, funded from several sources, including the Scottish Executive superhighways project, is open from 9am to 9pm.

John Taylor, principal of Clackmannan College, is keen to see the base act as a fresh arm of the college, targeted at adults from social inclusion partnership areas. "People from these areas often say they would like to better themselves but also say 'the college is not for us'."

Lavinia Kilbride, acting centre manager, says: "We could be the stepping stone to get someone to college or university."

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