Second-chance site earmarked

17th October 1997 at 01:00
A college in Leeds is set to be the first national pilot site for a European Union initiative to offer courses to school drop-outs.

The so-called second-chance schools are the brainchild of European Commissioner Edith Cresson. The Department for Education and Employment is expected to announce that the East Leeds Family Learning Centre has been selected from a range of contenders throughout the UK.

The centre was set up a year ago on the site of a former secondary school and has been providing a range of vocational courses and training for people aged 16-plus.

Chris Peat, the centre's manager, said: "We offer a different environment to learn in. We design programmes around individuals and help them choose a range of studies that suits them. The centre serves all age groups but we do target young people who have not had successful school careers and lack the basic skills to enable them to take vocational courses in traditional further education colleges."

Mr Peat sees the second-chance school initiative dovetailing with the Government's New Deal, to get young people off benefits and into work or training.

The courses include cookery, childcare, hair care and information technology. Many are part-time and can be taken at night.

The centre has a suite with more than 60 computers. Last year 1,100 students enrolled; this September twice as many have done so, with 800 taking information technology courses.

The centre also has links with an art and design college which has moved on to the site. It receives funds from Leeds City Council and the Further Education Funding Council. Since being accepted as a pilot by the European Union, the centre will qualify for technical assistance, including help with fund raising, and will be part of a network with other second-chance schools in nine other member states. The aim is for pilots to work in tandem with local social services and other groups.

The initiative, first outlined in Mme Cresson's 1995 European White Paper, Teaching and Learning: Towards a Learning Society, has been controversial. There were concerns among other member states that the second-chance schools would become ghettos for disaffected youth. But the scheme has gradually won favour. "We see them not as ghettos, but centres of excellence for young people who lack basic skills and qualifications and get left behind," said a European Union spokesman.

The second-chance school in Marseilles also offers accommodation for young homeless people or those who live in an environment where studying is difficult.

News Focus, page 14

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a TES/ TESS subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
 
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today