10th December 2009

EDUCATION in the community is the key message behind the services which are being provided by Exeter College’s Foundation Studies department from within its newly-refurbished facilities at the Guildhall from today.
Only a few minutes’ walk from Exeter College’s other city centre campuses in Exeter, its refurbished rooms will be the new HQ from which the College will provide a number of specialist educational opportunities it offers in addition to the many already provided to Foundation Studies students aged 14 upwards on the main Hele Road site.
As representatives of local authority, business, and community organisations took a tour of its provisions this afternoon at the official launch, Chris Petheram, Head of Exeter College’s Foundation Studies faculty, said: “Our aim is to engage people from within the community who are non-traditional learners, or who may find that they have barriers which hinder their learning. We can do this by working with partners who buy in our services.
“For example, we are currently working with the Youth Offending Team, to whom we are offering an outreach service where we go out to them to give maths lessons to young offenders.
“We are involved in the Learn To Work scheme, engaging Year 10 and 11 school pupils who need an alternative option to the national curriculum. We are also working with Connexions to help encourage people neither working, studying, or in training at present back into education so that they can boost their chances of finding work in future, and open up more opportunities to them in life in general.
He added: “We are also working on some special projects alongside Youth Service Exeter and Connexions too, and are hoping to engage young individuals in returning to education through taster sessions. We hope these will generate enthusiasm and a desire to become involved in something new from which they will reap huge benefits should they choose to stick with it.”
The refurbishment for the buildings and their outfitting cost around £75,000 and was completed over the summer. As well as a mixture of formal and informal study areas designed to create a relaxed and friendly environment that veers away from that of the traditional ‘classroom’ layout, there are ICT suites and smaller tutorial rooms where one-to-one interviews or coaching sessions can be carried out.
Summing up why such services are an essential part of the city of Exeter’s make-up, Chris said: “Many of our former students are now in some form of employment, or are now continuing their education at a higher level. We have had people come to us with no qualifications at all in the past, and through the support, guidance and expertise of our specialist teachers, some have managed to go on to university, including Oxford.”
Among those viewing the facilities on offer for the first time was Exeter East And Mid-Devon Youth Offending Team Co-manager Henrietta Ireland.
Speaking afterwards, she said: “I think the facilities look great. The rooms are light and well thought-out, and while there are a variety of room sizes and functional spaces on offer, they present a pleasant environment in which to study.
“Quite often, young people who have disengaged from school and studying can feel intimidated and scared by the idea of accessing mainstream learning opportunities. This environment offers them a perfect intermediary setting, in which they can reengage in education, recognise their potential, and look forward to their future.”
Ann Beverage, Area Manager for Exeter Careers South-West, added: “Following the revamp and reorganisation, the College has created a nice learning environment within the Guildhall for its users. I think it’s really encouraging to see these lovely new facilities, the range of courses and options open to young people using them, and the ways in which both are developing.”