Etifeddiaeth y prosiect DPP: Paratoi ar gyfer byd sy’n newid

O’n cwmpas gwelir newidiadau enfawr ar y gweill. Mae Prydain yn barod i adael yr Undeb Ewropeaidd, mae Llywydd Etholedig yr Unol Daleithiau yn seren realiti o’r teledu ac ymddengys fod y byd yn gyffredinol yn fwyfwy cymhleth a darniog.

Yn ein sector ein hunain gyda’r newidiadau enfawr i Sgiliau Hanfodol, y Fagloriaeth a TGAU Cymraeg, beth y gellir ei wneud i gynyddu gwytnwch ar gyfer yr adegau anrhagweladwy o’n blaenau? Yn fwy nag erioed, mae angen arweinwyr doeth ac ymarferol sy’n galluogi ac yn annog eu staff i ddatblygu fel eu bod ar frig eu gêm wrth gyflwyno dysgu.

Mae llawer o ffyrdd i arweinwyr cefnogi eu staff i hogi eu galluoedd ond un o’r rhai mwyaf cost effeithiol yw drwy eu hannog i fynychu gwe-seminarau ac adnoddau mynediad sydd eisoes ar gael ac weithiau am ddim, ar-lein.

Mae prosiect DPP ColegauCymru (a ariennir bellach trwy Cymwysterau Cymru) yn dod i ben yn naturiol ym Mehefin 2017 ond mae pawb dan sylw yn canolbwyntio ar sicrhau bod ei etifeddiaeth yn byw yn hir ar ôl y dyddiad hwnnw. Mae rhai o’r adnoddau Llythrennedd Digidol a ddatblygwyd ar y prosiect eisoes ar gael am ddim ar-lein ac mae eraill ar y gweill. Yn ogystal, mae llawer o’r gwe-seminarau sydd wedi’u cynnal hyd yn hyn yn cael eu cofnodi ac ar gael – a bydd y nifer hwn yn cynyddu yn ystod y misoedd sy’n weddill o’r prosiect. Mae’r adnoddau – a fydd ar gael yn ddwyieithog – a gwe-seminarau, yn rhydd i gael mynediad drwy’r adran sgiliau ôl-16 o Moodle ColegauCymru a byddant yn parhau i fod ar gael y tu hwnt i 2017.

Felly, os ydych yn gobeithio cynyddu gwytnwch yn eich sefydliad a pharatoi eich hun neu eich staff ar gyfer y dyfodol – cofiwch ymweld â Moodle ColegauCymru yn y misoedd nesaf i weld yr ystod o adnoddau dwyieithog – a gwyliwch allan am gynhadledd prosiect DPP.

 

 

 

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Legacy of the CPD Project: Preparing for a changing world

All around us there are massive changes underway. Britain is poised to leave the European Union, the President Elect in the USA is an ex-reality TV host and the world in general seems to be increasingly complicated and fragmenting.

In our own sector with the huge changes to Essential Skills, the Welsh Baccalaureate and GCSEs, what can be done to increase resilience for the unpredictable times ahead? More than ever we need wise and practical leaders who enable and encourage their staff to develop so that they are at the top of their game when delivering learning.

There are many ways for leaders to support their staff to hone their abilities but one of the most cost effective is by encouraging them to attend webinars and access resources that are already available and sometimes free, online.   

The ColegauCymru CPD project (now funded by Qualifications Wales) comes to a natural end in June 2017 but everyone involved is focussed on ensuring that its legacy lives on long after that date. Some of the Digital Literacy resources developed on the project are already freely available online and others are in the pipeline. In addition many of the webinars that have been held to date were recorded and are available – and this number will increase during the remaining months of the project. The resources – which will be available bilingually – and webinars, are free to access through the Skills Post16 section of the ColegauCymru Moodle  and they will continue to be available beyond 2017.

So if you are looking to increase resilience in your organisation and prepare yourself or your staff for the future – keep visiting the ColegauCymru Moodle in the coming months to see the range of bilingual resources build – and watch out for the CPD Project dissemination conference.

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Busnes mentrus …? Sylwadau ar sicrhau ansawdd prosiect sgiliau ôl-16

Mae ymarferwyr a rheolwyr yn gyfarwydd ag egwyddorion a systemau sy’n sicrhau ansawdd effeithiol mewn sefydliadau. Rydym yn gweithio fel mater o drefn gyda chraffu QA mewnol ac allanol a gyda sefyllfa pob sefydliad ar sut y gall damcaniaethau megis ‘Cyfanswm Rheoli Ansawdd’ neu gwella proses yn cael eu cymhwyso i wahanol gyd-destunau. Gall heriau penodol wrth ddyfeisio a gweithredu strategaeth Sicrhau Ansawdd sy’n gweithio ar gyfer tîm o ymgynghorwyr cyflwyno prosiect Cymru gyfan a ariennir yn gyhoeddus ac yn craffu allanol, gyda cyrhaeddiad ac effaith genedlaethol.

Mae cynnwys a nod y prosiect o’r cychwyn cyntaf yn rhan annatod o’r ffordd y mae’r strategaeth Sicrwydd Ansawdd wedi cael ei sefydlu a’i ddatblygu ymhellach. Yn y bôn, mae’r tîm a ddyfeisiodd y rhaglen – ynghyd â strwythur modiwlaidd ac adnoddau cysylltiedig – er mwyn cefnogi ymarferwyr Addysg Bellach, Dysgu Seiliedig ar Waith a Dysgu Cymunedol i Oedolion wrth weithredu’r TGAU, Bagloriaeth Cymru a Sgiliau Hanfodol newydd. Mae sesiynau hyfforddi gyda staff y sector yn ganolog i greu tasglu o staff medrus i gymryd y rhaglen yn ei blaen a sicrhau ei gynaliadwyedd ym mhob sector.
O ddechrau’r prosiect, ein nodau SA oedd • adnabod a rheoli risg effeithlon • Cynnal safonau • Cysondeb o ran cyflenwi • Mesur effaith Ar y lefel yma o ymgysylltiad cenedlaethol, mae llunio a diweddaru Cofrestr Risg ar lefel prosiect yn hanfodol.  Mae adnabod ac adolygu risgiau sy’n gysylltiedig â rolau a chyfrifoldebau, cyllid, ansawdd a chyflawni yn eitemau agenda gwerthfawr ym mhob cyfarfod tîm. Rhaid i unrhyw brosiect o’r math ac ar y lefel hon asesu a datrys risg yn ffurfiol ac ar y cyd.
Gweithiodd y tîm, ynghyd â chydweithwyr mewn tri grŵp rhanbarthol, i greu adnoddau a chyflwyno sesiynau hyfforddi: gyda phob un ohonynt yn sicrwydd ansawdd. Cafodd adnoddau a deunyddiau newydd eu wirio am ansawdd cyn ei ddefnyddio a chrewyd sampl gynrychioliadol o sesiynau yn amodol ar werthusiad sylwedydd. Mae didueddrwydd yn her er bod y tîm estynedig wedi gwella hyn drwy ddatblygu gwell dogfennaeth a chanolbwyntio ar cynaliadwyedd yn y dyfodol.

Cyflawnwyd darpariaeth gyson drwy graffu’n rheolaidd ar adborth y cyfranogwyr (gan gasglu a’u coladu yn electronig) a’i gydberthynas â data gwerthuso arsyllwr. Fel gydag unrhyw system ar-lein, roedd problemau ond gyda gwelliannau olynol daeth golygu gwell a dadansoddiadau mwy ystyrlon, ac mae adroddiadau ar gael pan fo angen. Roedd mesur effaith gyffredinol yn her – cafodd data meintiol ei hadalw o gofnodion prosiect ac adroddiadau cynnydd a nodwyd cerrig milltir allweddol, ond weithiau roedd y dangosyddion llai diriaethol ac ansoddol a oedd y mwyaf grymus … Rydym yn canolbwyntio ar sut y gallai mynd i’r adael â rhain: mi fydd tystiolaeth tysteb o staff ar bob lefel, datganiadau pwerus mewn adborth, mewnbwn gan ymarferwyr mewn digwyddiadau yn ran fawr yn ein cynhadledd!

I gloi, mae sicrhau ansawdd y prosiect yn wahanol iawn ond eto yn debyg i systemau ac ymarferion y mae’n debyg bod gennych yn eich sefydliadau yn barod. Roedd yn amodol ar yr holl straen gyfarwydd ar amser ac adnoddau ar gael. Roedd sicrhau cofnodi llwyddiannau a’r heriau yn ganolog, ynghyd â chanolbwyntio ar etifeddiaeth y prosiect – gydag ymarferwyr sy’n wybodus, hyderus ac wedi’u grymuso gydag adnoddau i ddelio â her y cymwysterau newydd.

 

 

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A risky business…? Observations on quality assuring the Skills Post-16 project

Practitioners and managers are familiar with principles and systems of effective quality assurance in organisations.  We routinely work with internal and external QA scrutiny and with each institution’s ‘take’ on how theories such as ‘Total Quality Management’ or process improvement can be applied to various contexts.  But there are particular challenges in devising and implementing a QA strategy that works for a team of consultants delivering a publicly funded and externally scrutinised, pan-Wales project with national reach and impact.

The content and aim of the project from the outset were integral to the way that the QA strategy was established and further developed. Essentially, the team devised a programme – complete with modular structure and associated resources – to support FE, WBL and ACL practitioners in their implementation of the new GCSE, Welsh Baccalaureate and Essential Skills qualifications. Training sessions with sector staff were central to creating a task force of skilled staff to take the programme forward and ensure its sustainability in all sectors.

From the start of the project, our QA aims were to ensure

  • Effective identification and management of risk
  • Maintenance of standards
  • Consistency of delivery
  • Measurement of impact

At this level of national engagement, compiling and regularly updating a project level Risk Register proved vital.  Anticipating and reviewing risks related to roles and responsibilities, finance, quality and achieving deadlines were valued agenda items at all team meetings.  Any project of this nature and at this level must assess and resolve risk formally and collectively.

The team worked together with colleagues in three regional groups to create resources and deliver training sessions: all of which were quality assured.  New resources and materials were quality assured before use and a representative sample of sessions were subject to observer evaluation.  Impartiality was a challenge though the team enhanced this by developing better documentation and focusing more on future sustainability.

Consistent delivery was achieved by regular scrutiny of participant feedback (collected and collated electronically) and its correlation with observer evaluation data.  As with any online system, there were glitches but successive improvements meant better and more meaningful analyses and reports were available when needed.

Measurement of overall impact was a challenge – quantitative data was retrieved from project records and progress reports identified key milestones, but sometimes it was the less tangible and more qualitative indicators that were the most compelling… We focussed on how these could be captured: testimonial evidence from staff at all levels, powerful statements in feedback, inputs from practitioners at events will all feature large in our summary dissemination conference!

In conclusion, QA of the project was very different yet very similar to systems and practice you probably have in your own organisation. It was subject to all too familiar stresses on compliance caused by pressures on time and available resources. Ensuring that success was documented and challenges resolved was central, together with focussing on the project legacy – practitioners who are well-informed, confident and empowered with resources to meet the challenges of the new qualifications.

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CPD Project WBL Taskforce – A strategy for sustainability

The impact of the Review of Qualifications has been felt across Post 16 education and training in Wales.  In response the ColegauCymru CPD programme was designed to support all colleagues who are involved in delivering skills – whether they work in a college, Adult Learning (ACL) or Work Based Learning (WBL) setting. Working alongside colleagues from Work Based Learning (WBL) on this project has been particularly interesting for members of the Project Team.

The Phases of the project were roughly as follows:

Phase 1 – raising awareness of the changes, eliciting views about what assessment could look like, ensuring voices were heard, helping practitioners to understand how the qualifications would work, listening to managers lay out approaches and identify changes that would need to be introduced.

Phase 2 – working with colleagues from the four Awarding Organisations and Welsh Government on refining the Design Principles then devising, creating and implementing guidance for practitioners and learners.

Phase 3 – the practicalities of teaching, learning and assessment.  Much time was spent developing active delivery methods with elements of creativity and enjoyment to maximise the impact staff could make with their learners in the limited time they have with them. This remains the single greatest concern for the WBL sector.

Staff accessed ESW modules on the ColegauCymru Moodle to complete individual CPD.  They also had access to a learner WEST account where the brave undertook skills testing, gap analysis and skills improvement – just as their learners would. But the real fun was in workshops across Wales looking at content covering ‘Being a Reflective Practitioner’, ‘Building Subject-Specific Skills’ and ‘Achieving Success’ – always maintaining a keen focus on preparing learners for success.

Phase 4 – the future. The final phase of the programme sees the handover of the work to colleagues within the participating organisations. The earlier phases have clearly demonstrated the positive impact of effective partnership and so this forms the basis of the future strategy. To deliver this sustainable legacy, Lisa Harris (Chair of NTfW ESW Network) and Tori Edwards (Vice Chair of ColegauCymru equivalent) facilitated the meeting of a pan-Wales taskforce of trainers on 10th November 2016 to discuss the challenges and agree ways to progress.

As in Phase 2, the focus will be how to maintain and further develop high quality learning for all learners to support them to succeed.  Once operational, this team will facilitate events in North and South Wales before following up with developments in their own organisation or consortium – so ensuring that new and existing staff will continue to benefit from the legacy of the project.

 

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Tasglu Prosiect Dysgu Seiliedig ar Waith – Strategaeth ar gyfer cynaliadwyedd

Mae effaith yr Adolygiad Cymwysterau wedi cael ei deimlo ar draws y sector addysg a hyfforddiant ôl-16 yng Nghymru.  Fel ymateb, cafodd rhaglen DPP ColegauCymru ei chynllunio i gefnogi’r holl gydweithwyr sy’n ymwneud â chyflwyno sgiliau – o fewn colegau, Dysgu Oedolion Cymunedol (ACL) neu Dysgu yn y Gwaith (WBL). Mae gweithio ochr yn ochr â chydweithwyr o Ddysgu Seiliedig ar Waith (WBL) ar y prosiect hwn wedi bod yn arbennig o ddiddorol i aelodau o’r Tîm Prosiect.
Mae camau’r prosiect yn fras fel a ganlyn:

Cam 1 – codi ymwybyddiaeth o’r newidiadau, ennyn barn am sut y gallai asesiad edrych, gan sicrhau clywed lleisiau a gan helpu ymarferwyr i ddeall sut y byddai’r cymwysterau yn gweithio, gwrando ar reolwyr yn gosod allan ymagweddau a nodi newidiadau y byddai angen eu cyflwyno.
Cam 2 – gweithio gyda chydweithwyr o bedwar Sefydliad Dyfarnu a Llywodraeth Cymru ar fireinio’r Egwyddorion Dylunio ac yna dyfeisio, creu a gweithredu canllawiau ar gyfer ymarferwyr a dysgwyr.
Cam 3 – yr agweddau ymarferol ar addysgu, dysgu ac asesu. Treuliwyd llawer o amser yn datblygu dulliau cyflwyno gweithredol gydag elfennau o greadigrwydd a mwynhad er mwyn cael y gorau allan o effaith staff ar eu dysgwyr yn yr amser cyfyngedig sydd ganddynt. Mae hyn yn parhau i fod y pryder unigol mwyaf ar gyfer y sector dysgu seiliedig ar waith.

Aeth staff ar fodiwlau SHC ar Moodle ColegauCymru i gwblhau DPP unigol. Cawsant hefyd fynediad at gyfrif WEST dysgwr er mwyn cynnal profion sgiliau, dadansoddi bylchau a gwella sgiliau – yn union fel y byddai eu dysgwyr. Ond cafwyd yr hwyl go iawn mewn gweithdai ledled Cymru gan edrych ar gynnwys ‘Bod yn Ymarferydd Myfyriol’, ‘Sgiliau Adeiladu Pwnc Benodol’, a ‘Cyflawni Llwyddiant’ – gyda’r ffocws bob amser ar paratoi dysgwyr ar gyfer llwyddiant.
Cam 4 – y dyfodol. Mae cam olaf y rhaglen yn gweld trosglwyddo’r gwaith i gydweithwyr o fewn y sefydliadau sy’n cymryd rhan. Mae’r cyfnodau cynharach wedi dangos effaith gadarnhaol partneriaeth effeithiol yn glir ac felly mae hyn yn ffurfio sail y strategaeth yn y dyfodol. Er mwyn cyflawni’r etifeddiaeth gynaliadwy hwn, hwylusodd Lisa Harris (Cadeirydd Rhwydwaith SHC NTfW) a Tori Edwards (Is-gadeirydd ColegauCymru cyfatebol) cyfarfod tasglu o hyfforddwyr ar 10 Tachwedd 2016 i drafod yr heriau a chytuno ar ffyrdd i symud ymlaen.

Fel yng Nghyfnod 2, bydd y ffocws ar gynnal a datblygu dysgu safon uchel ar gyfer pob dysgwr i’w cefnogi i lwyddo. Unwaith y bydd yn weithredol, bydd y tîm hwn yn hwyluso digwyddiadau yng Ngogledd a De Cymru cyn dilyn i fyny â datblygiadau yn eu sefydliad neu gonsortiwm eu hunain – felly’n sicrhau y bydd staff newydd a staff presennol yn parhau i gael budd o etifeddiaeth y prosiect.

 

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Bathodynnau digidol – Beth yw’r pwynt? Karen Pontin, Ymgynghorydd ColegauCymru

Nid yw’n bosibl, yn gymesur, nac yn synhwyrol i gael holl addysg wedi’u achredu gan Sefydliad Dyfarnu.  Mae ennill achrediad yn her ac ar gontractau a phrosiectau megis y rhaglen DPP ColegauCymru, yn aml nid oes cyllid nag amser ar eu cyfer. Hefyd pan mae dysgu yn weddol fyr, er enghraifft rhaglen ar-lein o 40 munud sy’n cynnwys rhywbeth sydd yn berthnasol i staff sefydliad penodol, gall achrediad ar gyfer y rhaglen profi’n gymhleth ac yn ddrud.  Nid ydych yn torri cneuen gyda morthwyl.

Fodd bynnag, mae ffordd y gellir achredu’n gymharol gyflym, heb poen – gan ddefnyddio gwasanaeth cydnabyddiaeth ddigidol. Mae’n fenter sy’n fwy-fwy poblogaidd yn y DU. Mae mudiadau yn defnyddio bathodynnau digidol i gydnabod darnau byr o ddysgu a chyflawniad ac yn rhoi tystiolaeth o’r hyn y maent wedi ei wneud i’r cyfranogwyr. Meddyliwch am fathodynnau’r sgowtiaid a’r geidiaid ond heb y gwnïo … .. Edrychwch ar erthygl JISC ar bathodynnau i weld rhagor.

Nid yw’r gwasanaeth bathodynnau ar gael am ddim ond mae’n hawdd i’w sefydlu, ac mae’n gyflymach ac yn fwy cost effeithiol nag achrediad traddodiadol – yn enwedig os yw’r rhaglen yn fyr neu’n gyfyngedig fel y’i disgrifir uchod. Os ydych yn datblygu prosiect neu raglen a fyddai’n elwa ar gydnabyddiaeth allanol – cofiwch am fathodynnau digidol ac efallai eu cynnwys yn eich cynlluniau.

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Digital Badges: What’s the point? By Karen Pontin, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales Consultant

It is not possible, proportionate or sensible to have all learning accredited by an Awarding Organisation. Gaining accreditation is a challenge and on contracts and projects such as the ColegauCymru/CollegesWales CPD programme, funding and timescales often don’t allow for it. Also where learning is fairly short– say a 40 minute online programme covering something only pertinent to the staff of an organisation – then gaining accreditation for the programme can prove to be a hefty piece of work and expensive. Sledgehammer and nut come to mind.

However there is now a way that accreditation can be achieved relatively quickly and with less pain – using a digital recognition service. It’s an initiative that is gaining traction in the UK. It’s where organisations use digital badges to recognise bite sized chunks of learning and achievement and give those who complete it, proof of what they’ve done. Think Scouting/Guiding badges but without the sewing….. Have a look at JISC Article – Badges and see what we mean.

The badging service is (inevitably) not free but it is both easier to set up, quicker and more cost effective than traditional accreditation – particularly if the learning is short or time bound as described above.  If you are developing a project or programme that would benefit from some external recognition – give digital badges some thought and maybe include them in your plans.

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Day 3 lessons from the Basque Country: collaboration, innovation, shared goals and a strong sense of place

This week (06-10 June), a delegation from Wales’ further education sector is visiting the Basque Country in order to explore innovation in post-16 education and training and links with SMEs.

Day 3 Innovate FE Basque Country group photo of the delegation

The delegation, led by ColegauCymru and funded by Erasmus+, are blogging on their observations.  Here is their entry from the third day, following visits to Lea Artibai college and Mondragon Cooperation.


Day 3 of the #InnovateFE delegation in the Basque Country continued to highlight the benefits of having a collaborative and commercial outlook.

Our first visit of the day was to the Lea Artibai college nestled in the mountains. The journey there had a few of us wanting to get off as we twirled and whirled up the Pyrenees before dropping down deep into the valley on the other side.

We received a warm welcome by the impressive Principal, Isabel Mendiguren, followed by a presentation and a tour of the food processing department and lean manufacturing facilities.

It was clear that the Basque region’s stakeholders take a structured and co-ordinated approach to driving innovation. We heard that the college supports businesses to grow organically, driven by a collaborative ethos and a shared end goal.

Our second visit of the day was to the Modragon Cooperation, which comprises a university, as well as vocational and management training centres. It was an impressive site and we were blown away with the generosity and openness of our hosts, Dr Pedro Urteaga and Gorka Aretxaga Urkiola. They treated the 15 delegates to a traditional six course lunch (commonly eaten at 2.30pm) in a beautiful restaurant. Delicious.

Over lunch and indeed throughout the day, there was much serious discussion and dialogue on the need for change.

The economic models adopted by the Basque region demonstrate a keen sense of responsibility for developing the social environment within local communities. These common goals encourage openness, collaboration and partnership working which are mutually beneficial. It enables focus on a single objective: economic development.

The sense of place, shared goals and national pride is tangible in all elements of activity. Investments in community and economic programmes are respectful of culture and heritage.

We saw that there was very much a sense of ‘we are in this together’ with a deep rooted set of shared values which focuses on developing the Basque country. There is a clear sense of place and purpose based on traditional values and a common goal to ‘develop our area’ in order to build for the future. We reflected that the only times we see such displays of comradery in Wales is when Wales competes at sporting events. Why is that, we kept on wondering?

Key to how the Basque region operates is a recognition of the economic benefits associated with developing SMEs. The delegation considered the strong argument that a sustained financial commitment for the further education sector could enable SMEs to have better access to their specialist vocational and academic resources. The applied nature of further education provides a strong platform for knowledge transfer which has the potential to be further exploited in order to drive generational change across Wales, as it does in the Basque region.

In Wales, we are very proud of the specialist skills within our further education sector. They provide support, guidance and creativity to large companies as well as SMEs. There exists exemplary practice across Wales, often aligned to the willingness of individuals to take risk and drive change. Reflecting on what we saw in the Basque country, however, we could see that Wales had a lot of potential for more success and that the further education sector could, in the right environment, better support SMEs to grow organically.

We were all in agreement that one barrier to collaboration in Wales was the current funding challenge. It creates tension and uncertainty. It makes strategic planning difficult.

The reality is that our colleagues in the Basque region have a clear strategic commitment to supporting further education institutions to nurture SMEs. Sustained financial commitment enables institutions, policy makers and employers to cooperate openly and without fear, very much working towards a collective goal.

The Mondragon Cooperation demonstrates the true essence of partnership working. It is achieving sustained long term economic growth. Jose Maria Ariznendiarrieta, the founder, relayed the philosophy:

‘However splendid the present might be, it is destined to fail if it turns its back on the future’

A sign of vitality is not to endure but to be reborn and to adapt’.

One thing is clear, close working relationships between business and education, supported by TKINIA driving the collaboration ethos at the heart, is working. Most learners go from college straight into employment and businesses are engaging with colleges for their training and use of their facilities, thereby avoiding costly machine purchases. Industry supports the colleges and the colleges support industry.

What about a TKNIKA model here in Wales to support college and businesses collaboration? These are certainly questions and discussions we need to return to.

This visit has supported ColegauCymru’s vision and mission of leading the education, training and skills sector to drive economic and social sustainability in Wales through working with our members to learn and experience best practice from overseas. It is never easy to find like for like comparisons, but implementing best practice is something that we are eager and committed to doing.

We are grateful to Eramsus+ for funding the delegation’s visit. It was a memorable experience, thought provoking, as well as practical: we have developed sound contacts with the potential for further exchanges and engagement.

Eskerrik asko.


Thank you to the #InnovateFE delegation members for jointly contributing to the blog. The 15 members include representation from: ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, The College Merthyr Tydfil, Coleg y Cymoedd, NPTC Group of Colleges, Cardiff & Vale College, Pembrokeshire College, Coleg Sir Gâr, Grwp Llandrillo Menai, Coleg Cambria, and the Welsh Government.

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Day 2: learning from specialist vocational centres in the Basque Country

This week (06-10 June), a delegation from Wales’ further education sector is visiting the Basque Country in order to explore innovation in post-16 education and training and links with SMEs.

Innovation FE Day 2 Group photo of the delegation in the Basque Country

The delegation, led by ColegauCymru and funded by Erasmus+, are blogging on their observations.  Here is their entry from the second day, following visits to Makina Erremintaren Instituta, an Advanced Manufacturing Centre and Tolosaldea an Upper Vocational Training School.


Another early start for team #Innovate FE as we headed off to an industrial area of the Basque Country. We received a warm Welsh welcome from Joxean Egana, Managing Director of IMH, the lead Advanced Manufacturing Centre for the region. He was joined by his colleague Maria, a civil servant who works at the college.  Maria gave us an informative and very interesting presentation on the region and the college’s role, and then went on to interpret for colleagues throughout the morning in excellent English.

The centre certainly runs a smart and specialized curriculum, responsive to local industry needs, specifically advanced manufacturing.The institution’s curriculum of only 11 courses at middle and high levels (levels 3 and 5 respectively) is aligned to the European Qualifications Framework.  Basque language skills are also in demand and as a result the college is a Basque-speaking college.

A school certificate is the minimum requirement for entry into the centre. Learners remain in school until they attain the certificate, and it didn’t appear that the centre needs to up skill learners who do not meet the minimum requirement.

As in Wales, vocational training has traditionally been viewed as the route for those who are less academically able.  The centre is trying to challenge this perception and attract more academically gifted learners onto vocational programmes.  Key statistics that aid them in their efforts are that:

  • 84% of their learners progress directly into employment compared with 67% in Basque Country as a whole
  • 94% of the companies they work with would like to employ a student.

Demand drives supply.

All the vocational education and training (VET) colleges are small, specialized institutions that have excellent links with other colleges, working as clusters to deliver world class education and training to meet employer needs.

The equipment at the college is leading edge and of a higher standard that what the majority of companies have. Working with TKgune, it uses its infrastructure and its knowledge to support SME innovation and success. We were shown around numerous well-equipped workshops including for example one workshop that had five CNC machines worth around 300,000 Euros each.

By contrast, the centre also hosts a museum that emphasises its sense of place in history and that captures the region’s industrial heritage. It demonstrates clearly their pride in the industrial journey. We wondered where were our old machinery had gone to and whether colleges might set up a similar area to demonstrate industrial progress.

A short bus ride later and we arrived in Tolosaldea, an higher level vocational training centre, where we were greeted by the Principal, Joxe Iraetea.  It proved to be another example of an institution in perfect alignment with industry needs.

Knowledge transfer is a key objective in its work in supporting SMEs to improve productivity and efficiency.

It is a given that the role of teachers includes teaching and supporting innovation and commercial development for businesses. The centre employs 67 teachers. Of these, around half are deployed in teaching 600 students; the rest are engaged in commercial activities to support business development. Teachers work for 30 hours a week, teaching for 18 hours per week over 33 weeks, although they are on campus for 35 weeks. Salary scales are similar to those in Wales.

When staff are taken off teaching to work with businesses, the government provides replacement cover from a pool of qualified teachers. This pool of teachers are all Basque speakers: they have to achieve proficiency (CEFR C1) in Basque if they are to teach in the Basque country.  All classes are taught in Basque and some in English. Spanish is spoken but not taught. Multilingualism at its best.

Releasing staff is a normal activity. It appears that this system works well, benefitting teachers by developing their skills and using their knowledge to improve teaching practice. This provides positive outcomes for the SMEs, staff and the students by increasing and strengthening local networks.

Although the college has better equipment than SMEs, it appeared that it would like to be more progressive in its teaching methodologies and that it would like to develop its classrooms to include more creative spaces, similar to what we had seen in TKNIKA the previous day.

Back on to the bus, we were taken up a seriously steep and winding, narrow mountain road to a lovely little restaurant with the most stunning views across the Pyrenees. A rather late lunch at 2.30pm which was – amazing! Fish or steak with some ox tongue, salad, pates and puddings. Local food, well prepared and beautifully served kept us all very contented indeed! Again another day with many questions and ideas on how we can increase collaboration internally and externally when we return home.

Team #InnovateFE are now looking forward to Day 3, and a visit to Mondragon Co-operative.


Thank you to the #InnovateFE delegation members for jointly contributing to the blog. The 15 members include representation from: ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, The College Merthyr Tydfil, Coleg y Cymoedd, NPTC Group of Colleges, Cardiff & Vale College, Pembrokeshire College, Coleg Sir Gâr, Grwp Llandrillo Menai, Coleg Cambria, and the Welsh Government.

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