New Directions Adult Learning Service Maintains Quality Accreditation

ADULT education provider New Directions has succeeded in maintaining its national quality accreditation.

The Matrix standard for information advice and guidance services was renewed following a three day assessment in which staff, clients and partner organisations were interviewed.

New Directions, part of Reading Borough Council, provides a mix of academic and vocational courses for adults at locations around the borough. The service also manages the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) project on behalf of the Council to tackle the causes of poverty, promote social inclusion and drive local jobs and growth.

The Matrix report says care is taken to ensure clients considering accredited courses are embarking on the right qualification at the right level although the final decision is with the learner. Staff monitor the progress of students through the course and identify when any extra support is required.

The assessor also noted the role of the work placement service which helps clients find an eight-week placement with the Council. Learners are supported with any additional needs, such as being referred to partner organisations for help with clothing. Over the last three years, 60 per cent of clients on placements went on to gain employment.

Comments from learners in the assessors report included:

“My friend brought me, if I had not started to come I would be in hospital now”

Another said: “It has helped me with my stress and built my confidence and I am thinking of doing a Teaching Assistants course next.”

Three strengths were identified during the assessment:

·        There is a clear strong ethos in the service to support and enable people, especially from deprived areas, which is shared by staff.

·        The service has strong, well developed partnerships, which cover all areas of support a learner may need to enable them to progress and achieve their goals, from becoming less isolated to progressing on to university or getting a job.

·        New Directions has developed a quality improvement plan for an individual member of staff which links to the service’s overall quality improvement plan to help staff clearly understand how they are contributing to the progress of the service.

The assessor also suggested ways New Directions could continue to improve an already high quality service.

Cllr Ashley Pearce, Lead Councillor for Education, said:

“Congratulations to everyone at New Directions for maintaining their Matrix whole-service accreditation which reflects the hard work and commitment of the team.

“Attaining this standard highlights the top quality adult learning offered by New Directions to help individuals achieve their personal aims and aspirations, whether they wish to gain employment, improve their skills or become part of the community.”

Notes to Editors

CASE STUDY

Taylor Lehec was 21 and unemployed when he attended an eight-week work placement as a business support administrator for Social Services in Whitley and ended up working there permanently.

Talking about his placement, Taylor said: “I had a lot of support throughout the placement, everyone was very supportive and willing to help any time an issue came up or I needed guidance.”

At the end of the placement he said: “I’m proud of the little things. Comparing how I was prior to the placement and at the end of the eight weeks, with improved confidence on the phones and interaction with strangers.”

Asked if work experience had helped his career, Taylor replied: “Going from being previously unemployed to now having a job at Whitely Social Services, I would definitely say so.”

And his tips for any young people considering work experience: “You should definitely be willing to receive any training offered to you as it will only help you in the long run. Go for jobs that are potentially out of your comfort zone as they may help you in ways you wouldn’t think they would.”

Since starting with Whitley Social Services two years ago Taylor has gone from strength to strength and has taken on a variety of tasks and gained a lot of new skills. He will soon be starting a new job within Adult Social Care and is very excited to see what further opportunities that may bring.

David Millward

For media enquiries about this release email david.millward@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 4289