Higher education opportunities grow in Oswestry thanks to University of Chester

Posted on 4th March 2013

The University of Chester has developed a partnership with the Marches to provide higher education opportunities for people in the Oswestry area.

The University has recently accredited both a Professional Certificate and a Certificate in Higher Education for the Marches Training School.

Working through the Work Based Integrated Studies Programme (WBIS), the University is supporting this dynamic school which was recently recognised by OFSTED as ‘Outstanding’ for both Continuing Professional Development and for overall performance.

Oswestry was designated as an Education Action Zone in 2001. Although some nearby colleges offer some degree level courses, there is no local university, so this development will greatly enhance higher education provision in the area.

The Marches Training School has been in operation for three years with a remit to train staff from local schools and members of the community in ways which will have a direct positive impact on children and young people through teaching.

The Marches is at the centre of an integrated learning community with local schools. Over the last three years many teaching assistants attending courses at the school have asked if there is a way for them to be accredited towards a degree which would allow them to teach. The Work Based and Integrative Studies programme (WBIS) offers the opportunity for credits from these courses to be put towards a recognised higher education qualification.

It is intended that students should complete three modules towards a Professional Certificate in Personal and Social Learning (WBIS) in one year, with the option of completing three further modules towards a Certificate of Higher Education (WBIS) over a further 12 months. The programmes are open to teaching assistants, parents and anyone in the community with an interest in this field.

Teachers at the school are currently able to access Master’s level courses delivered at the school itself through the University of Chester’s Faculty of Education and Children’s Services. Numbers on the MA programme have doubled in two years and teachers from other schools in the county are now involved too.

Dr Julie Leoni at the Marches School said: “One of the targets of the School Development plan is to develop the Marches as a comprehensive educational resource for the local community and it is felt that WBIS adds a significant feature to the School’s profile.

“The approved studies routes established with the Centre for Work Related Studies at the University of Chester will offer unprecedented opportunities for a much wider range of people to develop skills relevant in every professional context. It is hoped to include parents, ex-pupils and parents of ex-pupils, as well as local employees of both public and private sectors.”

Bob Meakin at the University of Chester said: “We are delighted to be working with this forward-thinking school and accredit these courses. The opportunity to engage with higher education while still continuing with everyday life is attractive to many and we hope to have increased the education chances for more interested people.”

To find out more about WBIS opportunities contact Lizzy Williams at the University of Chester on 01244 512122 or email lizzy.williams@chester.ac.uk or visit www.chester.ac.uk/cwrs