Sport opens door;FE Focus;Association of Colleges conference;Preview

16th October 1998 at 01:00
Efforts to combat social exclusion will dominate debate at next month's Association of Colleges annual conference in Harrogate. Over the next four weeks Simon Midgely will be setting the scene and looking at how colleges are meeting Government growth targets

A Birmingham college offers free use of its sports facilities to unemployed Yemeni men enrolling on its basic skills courses.

For three years, Joseph Chamberlain College in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, has been running a Yemeni Sunday College for men aged 16 years and over.

In order to attract and retain students the college agreed that participants can use its sports facilities to play football, table tennis, badminton and basketball. During Ramadan, the Muslim month of daytime fasting, the college also lays on an evening meal to discourage hungry students from leaving college early.

The students are trained in English for speakers of other languages, information technology, key skills and numeracy. They also take part in first aid and basic food hygiene courses, and there are the occasional working field trips to Wales. Some learners study for GCSE and A-level Arabic and GCSE maths.

The FEFC-funded courses run on Sunday afternoons from 1pm to 3pm. The students then take part in college-supervised sports activities between 3 and 4pm. All the tutors are bilingual graduates of Yemeni origin who offer good role models.

Ever since the students have been allowed to use the college's sports facilities, the number on roll has increased and attendance has improved. Advice centres at the college guide students towards appropriate courses. Around 80 students took part last year.

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