How Elidyr Communities Trust embed Skills Competitions into everyday learning
In May 2023, Elidyr Communities Trust decided to go one step further and launch their very own internal Skills Competitions, with the support of Inspiring Skills and Welsh Government.
So why do they find Skills Competitions so valuable?
Elidyr Communities Trust works with young adults with complex additional learning needs and disabilities, teaching them to self advocate, build skills and find great independence.
The Inspiring Skills team worked closely with Elidyr and soon Skills Competitions became an important element to learning, with many of their learners entering Skills Competition Wales and WorldSkills UK Competitions.
After the Inspiring Skills team worked with Elidyr staff on a ‘Competition in Curriculum’: Agored Cymru quality mark session in 2022, the Deputy Head of Education, Sue Hope-Bell, decided that Skills Competitions were not only important to tutors and learners, but that they were a core part of education delivery and therefore should be embedded in day-to-day learning.
“The reason we decided to host our own internal Skills Week was because our learners benefit from competing, even if that’s not on a national platform.
“Being able to dedicate time to training, learning a new skill and then competing under a bit of pressure allows them to work towards becoming more independent, which is all part of what we do here at Elidyr.
“It’s also been brilliant to see them try different skills, things they’ve never tried before- they’ve been excited and looking forward to competing all week!”said Sue.
The team decided to create their very own internal Skills Week in May 2023- an opportunity for tutors and learners to identify new skill areas and to train for a dedicated day of competitions. Learners and tutors alike were part of the process of designing, delivering and competing in the competitions.
Samantha Huckle, Deputy Director Further Education and Apprenticeships, Welsh Government visited during the week and was also impressed with the week:
“Being present for Elidyr’s competitions, it’s evident how rewarding both the staff and learners find skills competitions and it’s great to see how Elidyr have managed to embed competitions into their day to day learning. The facilities here and the opportunities for learners to try new things is outstanding.”
Tutors had their very own opportunity to ‘compete’ as they pitched to design new skills areas such as first aid and animal care, and learners had the opportunity to try out skills in a series of sessions and workshops ahead of the Skills Week.
Many learners were able to focus on a brand new skill, training in this area for the first time. These new skills opened new possibilities and conversations for many learners, who were also able to practise softer skills when training such as building their confidence around different people, responding to competition briefs and time management, as they followed a schedule for training ahead of the competition day.
Matt, a learner at Elidyr Communities Trust who took part in the Animal Care competition said: “I’m taking part in the Animal Care competition. I love rabbits so I’m learning to take care of them. It makes me feel responsible and proud.”
Collaboration was important in the process, with all tutors and staff being part of the design process. Competitions included: Animal Care, First Aid, Snip and Stitch, Stool weaving. Judges were recruited from the network of colleges in Wales (Pembrokeshire & Coleg Sir Gâr) and from the local area.
Elidyr Communities Trust are placing their Skills Week firmly in their annual calendar after positive feedback from learners and tutors.
Geraint Wadley, Head of Education and Training Elidyr Communities Trust said: “Our Skills Week has been a huge success. We can see the value of identifying new skill areas that our learners and our tutors want to explore and it’s been so rewarding to see how excited our learners are to have the opportunity to try different skills throughout the week.”
It’s also been brilliant to see them try different skills, things they’ve never tried before, they’ve been excited and looking forward to competing all week!”
Whether learners work towards competing In Skills Competition Wales or not, it’s clear the opportunity and value that training for competitions has on everyone at Elidyr.