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The Bedford College Group launches free basic skills scheme with The Open University

27.02.2019

A brand-new scheme to bring free Level 1 Functional Skills courses to local people is being launched by The Bedford College Group in partnership with The Open University (OU).

People can develop basic skills in English and Maths by studying online on the OU’s OpenLearn platform, and then get additional support and a Functional Skills qualification via the College.

The pilot project is funded by the Department for Education’s Flexible Learning Fund, and this is the first time the OU has collaborated closely with FE colleges to support learners at this level.

People can access course materials on OpenLearn at their leisure and study at a time and pace that suits them. The college will support local learners and facilitate exams so that people can go on to get their Functional Skills qualifications if they wish – all for free.

Helping with basic skills 

The Open University, this year celebrating its 50th anniversary, was founded on the principle of opening up access to education to all.

Andrew Law, Head of Business Propositions at The Open University said: “This is a flexible, low-risk way for people to develop their basic skills, gaining confidence and even a qualification. It could transform their career prospects. Bringing our digital learning expertise together with practical, local support from the College is a great offer for anyone that wants to gain functional skills.”

Two courses will initially be on offer, Everyday Maths and Everyday English, with 48 hours of study to complete. There is an Open Licence on the materials, which means that anyone can copy and re-use the course content for their own teaching and learning.

The scheme will also involve collaborations with organisations and community groups including Local Enterprise Partnerships, WEA, Unison, Leonard Cheshire Disability and other union and business groups.

Alongside funding from the Department for Education, this pilot is benefiting from a kind donation by one of the OU’s supporters, Dangoor Education.

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