Courses for new coaches kick off
The idea of learning coaches has caused some controversy within education and youth work. But Professor Danny Saunders, head of lifelong learning at the University of Glamorgan, hopes they "will complement other professions and not be a source of conflict".
First Campus, a consortium of universities and FE colleges, based at Glamorgan university, has won the contract to deliver the 15-month training programmes. And the Assembly government wants to train 220 coaches across the country from this spring.
Pilots of learning coaches started back in 2004, as part of the government's 14-19 learning pathways reforms. Its revised 14-19 guidance - published earlier this month - says the coaches will help pupils identify their goals and learning needs, and plan their learning route to qualifications.
Professor Saunders said: "They will target study skills, whereas we look to teachers to get involved in the subject-specific curriculum."
The 15-month course comprises five modules covering mentoring, coaching for learners, study strategies, legislation and referral methods. Candidates are nominated by local 14-19 networks.
"We're getting a cross-section of interested people and a lot are experienced in youth work generally," said Professor Saunders.
Trainees will attend workshops, produce portfolios and work on-line. Tutors will also visit coaches on site. Some may become full-time in the role while the rest will combine it with their existing job.
Professor Saunders expects there will be around 120 recruits from south-east Wales.
The training is being delivered by four universities, with Glamorgan leading on study skills, University of Wales Institute of Cardiff leading on law, Cardiff university on mentoring, and Newport on referral - for when youngsters need help from agencies such as social services.