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Support

Support and Information


Welcome to our support and information page. Here you can find information on the service. Simply scroll down to the menu to find what you're looking for.

Latest Coronavirus update

The majority of our online courses are delivered through Google Classroom - How does it work?


Coronavirus Update


If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us:
Telephone: 01325 405601
Telephone/Text: 07932 869325
WhatsApp: 07932 869325
Email: l&[email protected]
Facebook: @DarlingtonLandS [external link]

Update 9th April 2021, 9.30am:

We welcomed learners back into our venues on Monday 8th March. Although the majority of our provision is still currently delivered online, some of our courses are returning to in-centre delivery on an ongoing basis. Courses timetabled to start in our venues going forward will be held as planned. However, please note that this is by appointment or course invitation only. Please do not attend our venues without an appointment as the majority of staff are still working from home.

For all learners returning to the classroom we strongly advise that you undertake an asymptomatic test. This is optional, but encouraged. Around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but are still infectious and can give the virus to others. Our priority at Learning & Skills is the safety and welfare of all learners and staff and the implementation of home testing will help to minimize the risk. We have received LFD (lateral flow device) home testing kits for all staff and learners at our venues in Lingfield Way, Bennet House and the Coleridge Centre.

Each home testing kit box contains a leaflet to explain the step by step self-testing. Each box has 7 tests, which is a 3½ weeks supply, for an individual needing 2 tests a week (every 3 or 4 days).The results must be reported to the NHS via the telephone or online, and the leaflet provides a test result record sheet that you can use.

Should you test positive, you should notify your tutor/trainer or Learning & Skills by phone or email as soon as possible and self-isolate in line with the stay-at-home guidance. You will also need to arrange a lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result. 

The mass testing sites in Darlington remain open if you prefer to do a test this way over home testing kits:

Book an LFD (lateral flow device) test

Our Apprenticeship delivery will run as normal. Our online delivery is unaffected and will take place as normal. Studying from home is the new way to learn! Enrolment is open for all of our courses. As long as you have the internet and an internet enabled device then you can join one of our courses. To see what's on offer visit our courses page. Our Distance Learning and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses are running as normal.

We will fully welcome you back in centre in the near future. Until then, please stay safe.


British Values


The fundamental British values are defined as:

Democracy: We ensure that all learners within the Service have a voice that is listened to, and we demonstrate how democracy works by actively promoting democratic processes such as the creation of group agreements and negotiated tasks. Learners will gain an understanding of how citizens can influence decision making through the democratic process. 

Rule of Law: We embed an appreciation that living under the rule of law protects individual citizens and is essential for their wellbeing and safety and we enable learners to distinguish right from wrong and to respect the civil and criminal law of England. We encourage an environment where rules and expectations are agreed so that we provide a safe and happy space for all and where differences are reconciled peacefully. 

Individual Liberty: We provide opportunities for learners to develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence as individuals across the curriculum. We promote an understanding of the importance of identifying and combating discrimination and encourage learners to accept responsibility for their behaviour, show initiative, and to understand how they can contribute positively to the lives of those living and working in the local community and to society more widely.

Mutual Respect and Tolerance: We encourage learners to regard people of all faiths, races and cultures with respect and tolerance. We ensure that ‘respect’ is central to all teaching and learning policy and practice. We aim to encourage further tolerance and harmony between cultural traditions by enabling learners to acquire an appreciation of and respect for their own and other cultures.

Learning & Skills British Values Leaflet [PDF document]

Government Guidance for British Values [external link].


Choosing the Right Course


To help you decide which course will suit you, the following definitions explain each level of study and will help you choose according to your existing level of knowledge and experience:

Pre Entry Level: This course is designed for those with no or very little basic skills and knowledge. The small class settings and additional support prepares the individuals to continue to Entry Level 1. 

Entry Level (Beginners and Introductory courses): Courses designed for those who wish to gain basic knowledge and skills. Qualifications are offered at Entry 1, Entry 2 and Entry 3 in a range of subject areas including English and Maths.

Level 1 (Intermediate courses): Courses designed for those who may have studied or gained a qualification some time ago. These courses provide a foundation to continue to advanced courses. Equivalent to NVQ Level 1 and GCSE grades 1 - 3 [old system grades D – G].

Level 2 (Intermediate courses): Courses for those reasonably confident in their skills and knowledge and want to learn, apply and interpret information about the subject or skill. Equivalent to NVQ Level 2 and GCSE grades 4 - 9 [old system grades A* – C].

Level 3 (Advanced courses): Courses for those who want to explore a subject in detail, with some independent research and reflection of the subject. Equivalent to NVQ Level 3 and AS/A2 Level.

Levels 4 and 5 (Higher Education courses): Courses for learners who want an in-depth knowledge of current issues and how they apply to the wider environment. Equivalent to Professional Certificates and Awards, Certificate of Higher Education and Foundation Degree.


Course Costs and Reduced Fees


Although the majority of our courses are free of charge, some of our courses do have a fee attached to them. However, you may qualify for reduced course fees depending on your circumstances.

Full Fees (including enrolment and tuition fees): £3.00 per hour 

Accredited Learning: Full accreditation fee (if applicable) - if the course has a qualification there will be additional fees to pay for registration and certification. 

No fees will be charged for publicly subsidised courses where:

1. Learners are aged 16-18 (on 31st August of the academic year)

2. Learners are aged 19-24 (on 31st August of the academic year) with a learning difficulty and / or disability as evidenced through an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan or Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA) 

3. Learners are aged 19 or older where the learning aim is up to and including level 2, and the learner is studying English or Maths

4. Learners are aged 19-23 (on their first day of study) and are studying their first 'full' level 2 or first 'full' level 3, excludes English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) 

5. Learners are aged 19 or older where the learning aim is up to and including level 2 (including ESOL), the skills training will help them into work, and the learner is classed as unemployed and one of more of the following apply:

a. They receive Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA) - this includes those receiving National Insurance credits only, or 

b. They receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the learner is in the work-related activity group (WRAG), or

c. They receive of Universal Credit, earn less than 16 times the national minimum wage or £330 a month and are determined by Jobcentre Plus (JCP) as being in one of the following groups: 

i. All Work Related Requirements Group 

ii. Work Preparation Group

iii. Work Focused Interview Group

d. They are released on temporary licence (RoTL) and studying outside a prison environment and not funded through the Offender's Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) 

Evidence required: Letter of entitlement from Job Centre Plus indicating the date and claim or for copy of licence (RoTL) from Probation Service

6. Learners aged 19-24 who are unemployed and on a Traineeship 

Courses with no public subsidy
For learners aged 19 or above and where the learning aim is level 3 or above (except for exclusion above), learners will need to take out an Advanced Learning Loan, subject to funding availability. Further details can be found at: www.gov.uk/advanced-learning-loans[external link].

Asylum Seekers - individuals will be assessed for eligibility in conjunction with SFA guidance Special fees - some courses have special fees, cost on application.

FE course - NVQ and similar price on application.

The following courses are free:
Family Learning, Functional Skills, Distance Learning, Study Programme and courses which are funded through external projects

Additional Learning Support (ALS)
Is intended to enable disadvantaged learners to achieve their learning goal by providing funding, on top of programme funds, to help them overcome their barriers to learning. The funding is intended to be flexible and to help support learners who have a range of learning difficulties and / or disabilities.


Enrolling onto a Learning & Skills course


Our courses, across all areas, run subject to sufficient demand. Places on our in-centre courses are limited and need to be booked in advance. Places on our online courses are not limited but places also need booking in advance. If you would like to book a place on a course of your choice or require further information please read the pre-course information associated with the course. Alternatively please contact us.

When you enrol for a course you will need to provide personal details including, but not limited to: name, contact number, email address and date of birth. 

The majority of our courses are free of charge. For courses with a fee you will need to pay the full course fee in advance of the course starting to secure your place. You can pay over the phone with a debit/credit card (American Express is not accepted) or you can pay in person at The Coleridge Centre with card, cash or cheque. You can also post a cheque to our address. Cheques must be made payable to Learning & Skills Darlington Borough Council. You will be issued with a receipt upon payment of a course, however you pay.

Courses will be cancelled if demand is insufficient. In the unfortunate circumstance that this happens, we will ask you if we may retain your details for the next course date and/or we may suggest similar courses to you. If you have paid for the course in advance, a full refund will be issued.


Google Classroom


The majority of our online courses are delivered through Google Classroom. In order to provide you with access to our virtual learning environment, you will be invited to join your Tutor’s Google Classroom when you enrol. If you are a new learner then an account will be setup for you using our Education License. Along with access to Google Classroom you will also be able to use the Google Drive for Cloud Storage, YouTube, Google Docs and many more Apps.

You will receive a new student email address which will start with your initial and surname in lowercase with no spaces for example [email protected]. Your default password will be Darlington!1.

Watch our 'Introduction to joining Google Classroom' video:

Please ensure you are signed out of any other Google accounts before joining your class.

If you are using a Tablet or Phone then you will need to install Google Classroom, Google Meet and Google Docs; which are all free, from the App or Android Store.​

Google Classroom Explained [PDF]


Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG)


We pride ourselves on providing great information, advice and guidance to a​ll our learners.

Learning & Skills is accredited to the Matrix standard. This standard is a unique quality standard for the assessment and measurement of the advice and support services we provide, which ultimately supports learners in their choice of career, learning, work and life goals.


We try to give all learners the opportunity to develop an awareness of career pathways and make informed choices based on their personal aspirations and abilities. All Learning & Skills learners are entitled to careers information, advice and guidance which is: 

  • Independent and impartial 
  • Accessible
  • Structured and forms part of a learner's overall education

 Post-16 options 

  • Further education
  • Training and Apprenticeships 

Post-19 options:

  • Applying for higher education
  • Researching possible courses and institutions
  • Access to prospectuses from universities 
  • Information and sign-posting on student financing higher education and preparing for student life
  • Job Centre Plus / employment agencies 

Apprenticeships:

  • Help with interviews and the Apprenticeship programme
  • Work related learning and careers
  • Discussion with the Mentor and Career Guidance Advisor in relation to Apprenticeship suitability and what is expected as an apprentice

For further information, please contact Learning & Skills on 01325 405601, 07932 869325 or l&[email protected]

Our current accreditation lasts until 15 June 2020. 

the matrix logo

We offer impartial advice and guidance to all. We help with: 

  • Advice on courses delivered by us and other providers 
  • Transition support from schools 
  • Job search and interview skills
  • CV preparation
  • Advice on improving yours skills, qualifications and employability
  • Courses to improve your career prospects 
  • Careers advice
  • Progression from your current course

A list of websites you may find useful [pdf document]


Mental Health Support


We always consider your mental health and wellbeing, and identify learners who may need additional support.

Many learners will be feeling uncertain and anxious and it is vital that they can still access the mental health support they need. Learning & Skills always consider their learners’ mental health and wellbeing and identify learners who may need additional support.

Learning & Skills are in the process of training select team members in Mental Health First Aid. These staff members will be available across the service during open hours to provide mental health support to those in need. If you feel you could benefit talking to one of our Mental Health First Aiders you can quietly and confidentially ask your tutor, or you can seek out the designated safeguard officers in the service.

All NHS mental health trusts are setting up 24/7 helplines and seeking to use digital and virtual channels to continue delivering support during the pandemic.

Social connections, alongside exercise, sleep, a healthy diet and routine, are important protective factors for mental health. Resources to promote and support mental wellbeing are included in the list of online resources we have published to help children and young people to learn at home.

Public Health England have also published more extensive guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is providing £5m of additional funding for mental health charities (to support adults and children).

Digital support includes

  • an educational resource for adults about children and young people’s mental health, which is relevant for teachers, other professionals working with children, volunteers, parents and carers
  • the Every Mind Matters platform from Public Health England has specific advice on maintaining good mental wellbeing during the outbreak
  • the Association of Colleges has produced a coronavirus resource hub

Mental health is also covered in the interim safeguarding guidance, and the principles in Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) continue to apply. Below are some suggestions as to how providers have supported their learners with their mental health:

  • making effective use of remote one-to-one counselling.
  • encouraging young people to identify their own self-care strategies during this uncertain time; online resources can help with this. Some providers are running live mindfulness classes to improve learner wellbeing.
  • completing welfare checks at the start of each session to ensure that all learners are engaged and supported.
  • PHSE lessons have been delivered remotely and focused on topics relevant to learners being at home, including mental health awareness, healthy living and online safety.
  • there are many studies which have shown that doing physical activity can improve mental health. Sport England has enlisted 450 School Games Organisers to help deliver a programme of free daily digital content to help keep young people active.

Ofsted Report


We were rated 'Good' by Ofsted in our 2016 inspection. Read our Ofsted report [PDF document]


PREVENT and Counter Terrorism


The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 aims to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and it highlights the need to be vigilant and that we all have a shared responsibility for safeguarding and promoting community cohesion. The Prevent agenda includes: international terrorism, Islamist ideology, Right / Neo Nazi / White Supremacist ideology, Irish Nationalists and Loyalist paramilitary groups and extremist Animal Rights movement.

Learning & Skills is an inclusive training and education provider for children, young people, adults and families, including people from ethnically diverse and socially and economically disadvantaged areas and we value and respect responsible freedom of speech.

PREVENT and Counter Terrorism Strategy [word document]

Read the governments PREVENT Duty Guidance [external link]


Privacy Statement, Key Policies and Procedures


Privacy Statement

Policies and Procedures

Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Privacy Notice

How the ESFA use your personal information: The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is an executive agency of the Department for Education (DfE). Their privacy notice explains how they use your personal information, if you are studying a course that is funded by them. ESFA Privacy Notice [external link]


Remote Education Offer


Study Programme
During the current Covid-19 epidemic we are delivering 16-18 provision via Google Classroom with support through Google Meet and TEAMS meetings for those have who access to an appropriate device. Learners are able to interact with their tutors and upload set work for marking and feedback. Should learners not have access to appropriate IT, paper-based resources will be made available and will be posted to the learner’s address for them to work on and times arranged for them to return the work.

All learners will follow existing timetables as set by their tutors and in some cases, these have been adapted to suit the needs of the learners if they are unable to attend due to personal, social or emotional issues.

Apprenticeships
Apprenticeship provision continues to be delivered by the usual methods using e-portfolios, Learning Assistant VLE and Google Classroom. Apprentices are meeting tutors and being taught through TEAMS, as well as being reviewed and supported online.

All learners will follow existing timetables as set by their tutors and in some cases, these have been adapted to suit the needs of the learners if they are unable to attend due to personal, social or emotional issues.

Community Learning
Adult provision is available through Google Classroom and Google Meet. Here learners have access to meetings with their tutor, as well as access to taught sessions, resources and the ability to upload set work. Where possible and subject to Government restriction, we will provide some in-centre learning at our COVID secure venues. These lessons will comply with all local and national COVID guidelines as set by Darlington Borough Council and the Government.

All learners will follow existing timetables as set by their tutors and in some cases, these have been adapted to suit the needs of the learners if they are unable to attend due to personal, social or emotional issues.

What we expect from learners
We would ask that all learners:

  • Check they have the proper equipment when registering for our virtual courses:
    - laptop / computer / tablet with a camera and microphone
  • Commit to attend and achieve the course
  • Report absences / issues / queries in advance of the class to their tutor
  • Comply with national COVID secure guidelines:
    - Hands, Face, Space and the wearing of face coverings if attending our centres in person
  • Report any symptoms immediately to the tutor or call or text one of our Learning & Skills Advisers on 07932 869325 or email l&[email protected]
  • Inform the tutor immediately of a positive COVID test result or call or text one of our Learning & Skills Advisers on 07932 869325 or email l&[email protected] 

Other information
Support for those learners on specialist courses will be delivered via the e-portfolios, Learning Assistant VLE and Google Classroom. These platforms will allow us to show videos and let learners explore the theory behind the practical methods used. We will endeavour to work with these learners in small groups in centre (should Government guidance allow) and support them as best we can to achieve their qualifications.

All SEND learners will be supported by Google Meet, TEAMS and delivered paper-based resources if access to IT is not available. Learners with an EHCP (Education Health & Care Plan) will have a risk assessment conducted and if required, face to face support will be provided where possible and in line with government guidance.  EHCP assessments and annual reviews will continue by telephone or online with the learner, family and Local Authority. 

If you are unsure whether you have the right IT equipment or feel you may need support getting online, please talk to us at the enquiry / booking stage. We may be able to help with IT provision and will consider requests on a case-by-case basis.


Student Discount Cards


Signing up to the majority of our courses means you qualify for a Student Discount Card.

We offer both the TOTUM (NUS Extra) and the NUS Extra Apprentice student discount cards. 

These cards bring over 200 UK discounts and come with 1-year FREE International Student Identity Card (ISIC), valid in over 130 countries worldwide and unlocking over 42,000 international discounts. Please click these links to apply for the TOTUM card [external link] or the NUS Extra Apprentice card [external link] selecting Darlington Borough Council as your place of study.*

To qualify you must attend a Learning & Skills course that is at least 10 weeks in duration. This handy guide will help you to see who qualifies:

Courses that qualify:

  • Apprenticeships
  • Diplomas
  • Study Programmes
  • Functional Skills maths/English/ICT
  • GCSEs
  • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
  • Distance Learning Courses
  • Further and Access to Higher Education Courses
  • Community Learning Courses

Courses that do not qualify:

  • Family Learning Courses
  • Intensive Support
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Modules

* Usually all cards are delivered to The Coleridge Centre. However, due to the current COVID-19 restrictions you must select to have have the card delivered to your home address for an additional fee of £1.50, or opt for the digital card version. As our venue remains closed we cannot process cards delivered to the Coleridge Centre in the usual way. Apologies for any inconvenience.


Student Loans


Learning & Skills has the facility to offer Advanced Learner Loans to support learners with course fees.

Learning & Skills has the facility to offer Advanced Learner Loans to support learners with course fees, and this is dependent on a number of factors.

Eligibility

To be eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan you must:

  • Be aged 19 or over

Your course must be:

  • a Level 3, 4, 5 or 6 qualification, for example A Levels or graduate certificate
  • at an approved college or training provider in England

Your nationality or residency status must be:

  • living in the UK on the first day of your course
  • have been living in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for 3 years before starting your course
  • be a UK national or have ‘settled status’ (this means there are no restrictions on how long you can stay)

Loan eligibility does not depend on income and there are no credit checks.

What you will get

  • You can apply to up to 4 loans, but you can only apply once for Access to HE
  • Minimum loan value is £300
  • Learning & Skills will decide the loan amount for the course
  • You do not have to borrow the full amount; you can pay some money towards the cost

Repayments

You will pay back your loan when both the following apply:

  • You have finished the course
  • You earn more than £25,000 per year

How to apply

  • Check with Learning & Skills that the course qualifies
  • Ask Learning & Skills for a ‘Learning and funding information’ letter - you need this to complete the application. It contains the details about your course.
  • Apply online– you will need to register first. You can apply by post if you cannot apply online on the Student Loans website. [external link] 
  • You will receive a letter confirming your loan - usually within 2 weeks if you apply online (postal applications take longer).

What you need to know

You cannot apply until you get a ‘learning and funding information letter’ from Learning & Skills.

You can apply for a loan without a National Insurance number, but you must have one before the loan can be paid.

Videos & Factsheets

Below you will find a video and factsheets provided by the Student Loans Company and the Department for Education. These provide the key facts and FAQs on Advanced Learner Loans and also act as a guide on how to obtain one.

Learning & Skills Qualifying Courses

The courses that qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan are:

For more information contact Learning & Skills on 01325 405601 or email l&[email protected]

Or visit gov.uk website page for advanced learner loans [external link]


Tips to Help with your Studying


We have a number of helpful tips to help you take full advantage of your learning.

Make a plan

Invest in a diary or a wall calendar. Find out when your deadlines are for submitting work and exam dates and write them down. You may also want to write down practice exam dates and other important dates provided by your tutor. Ask your tutor for these dates if they have not been provided.

Plan your daily routine and tasks / schedule your study time

Planning the night or the weekend before will allow you be organised the following day/week. Each day or week put time aside for studying and prioritise this over a few other things. Write down what your plans are for every day of the week and make sure you schedule in all of the study time your tutor recommends.

Tell your employer

If you work full-time it will be worth telling your employer so they can support you if required. They will delighted to see that you are investing in your own personal development.

Choose your best place to study

Sometimes studying at home doesn’t always go to plan. There are many distractions such as family members walking into your room to discuss something or having the TV on. May be speak to your manager about staying back for a few hours or coming in early so you can concentrate while it is quiet in the office, or go to the local library or café that is open later in the evening.

Choose when you can find the best time to study

Some people like to study in the morning and some people prefer in the evening. You may want to just study once a week or spread it across the week, whichever you decide to do, stick to the routine. Choose what is best for you.

Stay motivated

Remind yourself why you are studying, write down the benefits and the positive opportunities available after you have completed your studies. It may be worth having a large notice board to help you remember these on a daily basis.

Talk about problems

If you are struggling with a piece of work or struggling to hand in work before your deadline due to an emergency situation elsewhere, then talk to your tutor. Don’t ignore the problem, your tutor will help and support you to reach a solution.

Keep calm, focused and look after yourself

To keep motivated and help you study it is also important to look after yourself. Take time out to relax or do something you enjoy. Eat healthily and drink water to stay hydrated at all times. If you can, take regular exercise. May be have goals, such as ‘when one unit is completed I will treat myself to a cinema trip’ or whatever you enjoy or prefer.

You can say no

Although socialising or going to family events is something that you should do to stay motivated, when it comes close to your deadline dates and exams it may be better to say no so you can concentrate on your studies. If friends pressure you into going out, then you can say no to them and tell them you will go out once all the exams have been completed or you have submitted your work.