Independent Living Skills Conference 2023
The buzz and enthusiasm of staff networking and sharing expertise was a clear indicator that the ColegauCymru Independent Living Skills Conference 2023 was a resounding success. Representatives from Welsh Government, Esytn and Natspec joined staff from colleges across Wales at the Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells on 29 June 2023 to share expertise and effective ways of working with learners with additional needs who enrol on Independent Living Skills courses.
A morning workshop delivered by Deputy Head of Learning at Chichester College (and Natspec), Jane Ragless, provided an opportunity for discussion about setting, managing, and monitoring individual learner targets. This was followed by a lively session looking at the best ways of bringing learner targets to life in sessions and project work. A ‘marketplace’ activity at lunchtime proved popular, providing colleges with the opportunity to showcase their resources, to network with colleagues and to learn from one another.
The afternoon saw ColegauCymru ALN Transformation Lead, Chris Denham, provide an update of the ALN and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act and its implementation. This was followed by the launch of the Standards and Guidance document for Pathway 4/Supported Internships in Wales; a document produced by the ILS Network in partnership with supported employment agencies and Project Search.
The Conference was also a celebration of the achievements of the ILS Network who, in the last 5 years have:
- Developed and rolled out a person-centred, destination-led, relevant and practical Post-16 ILS curriculum for learners with learning disabilities to prepare them for adult life;
- Published a self-assessment framework and guidance toolkit for the curriculum;
- Facilitated training for ILS managers and practitioners in using the new curriculum, including a programme of webinars and a mentoring opportunities;
- Developed guidance and standards for Pathway 4 provision (transition to employment and supported internships;
- Developed and rolled out a peer exchange process with colleges working together to learn from each other and to standardise practice; and
- Networked at half termly meetings and other events, sharing effective practice and resources across Wales.
ColegauCymru ILS Project lead, Anne Evans, said,
It was wonderful to see so many people at the conference, from FE practitioners and managers as well as representatives from Welsh Government and Estyn. The workshops and marketplace event were a catalyst for lots of lively discussion throughout the day.
The success in implementing the new curriculum belongs to the ILS Network and to staff who work with ILS learners across Wales, with this event highlighting how effective working together as a network can be.
Anne Evans, who has been the ILS Consultant Lead for ColegauCymu projects since 2017, will be retiring from the role at the end of this academic year. Eifiona Wyn Williams, formerly ILS Programme Area Manager at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, will be taking her place and leading the ILS work in 2023/24.
Anne Evans, Consultant and ILS Project Lead
Eifiona Williams, Consultant and ILS Project Lead