Teessiders who want to improve their English and maths skills are being offered free support thanks to a partnership between Middlesbrough College and The Open University (OU).
An online course designed to improved learners reading, writing and maths skills is now available, with the opportunity to study towards a Level 1 Functional Skills qualification via Middlesbrough 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 with further education 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.
Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive of Middlesbrough College, said: “As an inclusive college that serves and supports the community, we’re pleased to be able to help more people get the skills they need to fulfil their potential.
“This offer is a fantastic opportunity for those who want to improve essential skills and show employers or universities they have a good standard of maths and English.
“The courses on offer are ideal for those who are looking for promotion at work, those wanting to support children with homework or as part of an apprenticeship.”
Lee Yuan Di, 42, benefited from maths and English lessons at Middlesbrough College.
He said: “Studying speaking, reading and writing has really helped me in both everyday life and at work.”
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 Middlesbrough 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 of donation by one of the OU’s supporters, Dangoor Education.