The Learning and Development Unit Projects
The National Professional Qualification for Headship in Wales (1997–2011)
The National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) was initially not a mandatory qualification, but signalled an important priority in the professional development of intending headteachers. The programme, which was underpinned by the National Standards for Headteachers, was designed for highly motivated practitioners who were seriously interested in undertaking, quality professional development in preparation for becoming a headteacher in the following two to three years. In 2005 the then Welsh Assembly Government made the NPQH a mandatory qualification for all headteachers in Wales.
The action research project Countering Underachievement Especially in Boys (1997–99)
This research project trialled 23 strategies for countering underachievement in boys in 25 primary schools and four secondary schools in west Wales. The project was evaluated both quantitatively and qualitatively, and the outcome clearly showed that giving such strategies a priority throughout the schools made an impact, helping to improve the educational performance not only of boys but also of girls. The report of the research project has contributed considerably to the debate on the underachievement of boys for the past decade.
The National Mentoring Pilot Project (1999–2004)
The National Mentoring Pilot Project (NMPP), which was funded and overseen by the DfES, was established to harness the talents and experiences of undergraduates in providing practical help and encouragement to pupils aged 13–19 from socially deprived areas. These pupils had the potential to be effective learners but for a variety of reasons were not realising their potential. The mentors, who were trained and remunerated, played a pioneering role in promoting effective school–university partnerships in communities within the catchment of the universities involved in the project.
The First Campus Mentoring Project (Wales) (2003–7)
First Campus is a HEFCW-funded project promoting partnership between universities, further education colleges and schools in south-east Wales. During its early stages of development a mentoring project was established within the Learning and Development Unit. The LDU team trained undergraduates from UWIC, Newport University, Glamorgan University and Cardiff University to work with learners in a large number of secondary schools across the First Campus area to raise their aspirations and improve their educational performance.
The National Mentoring Scheme (2004–6)
The National Mentoring Scheme (NMS) was established to provide one-to-one mentoring by university students for pupils aged 13–19 from Aimhigher schools. The goal of the scheme was to improve the pupils’ attainment and their awareness of the possibilities of, and opportunities offered by, progression to higher education. The mentors were trained and remunerated and were supported by their universities throughout their mentoring experiences. The NMS promoted the concept of a realignment of universities with their surrounding communities, contributing in particular to improving the quality of learning and raising the aspirations of pupils in local schools.
The Mentoring Module of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Learning Coach project (2006–11)
The Learning and Development Unit designed and delivered a two-day training workshop for the Learning Coaches across the whole of Wales. The workshop, which was highly interactive, focused on the development of the knowledge, skills and behaviours required by the Learning Coaches in order to fulfil their role effectively in supporting learners in the field. The course was accredited by Cardiff University and the assessment by portfolio and guided discussion was undertaken by staff and consultants of the LDU.
The Aimhigher Associates Scheme (2008–11)
In 2008 the Learning and Development Unit was awarded a contract to provide the coordination service to the 42 Aimhigher Area Partnerships and to support HEFCE in securing a high-quality mentoring intervention mediated through the Aimhigher Associates Scheme. The National Coordination team was appointed to deliver this service on behalf of HEFCE, working with Area Partnerships, universities, schools, colleges and academies throughout England.
This project, established in response to the new funding arrangements for HEIs in England, seeks to identify approaches and activities which would enable universities to improve their provision for widening participation and access to higher education. The project uses the experience and expertise of the Programme Team of the LDU in order to support universities in implementing effective widening participation strategies, programmes and activities.