A revolutionary Black Country initiative that raises local home-care standards has beaten numerous other nominees in the annual national Training Organisation for the Personal Social Services (TOPSS) accolades. Taking runner-up position in the category for the most innovative learning resource at the prestigious UK-wide awards, the BC3/BC4 project was praised as a role model for the sector.

A revolutionary Black Country initiative that raises local home-care standards has beaten numerous other nominees in the annual national Training Organisation for the Personal Social Services (TOPSS) accolades. Taking runner-up position in the category for the most innovative learning resource at the prestigious UK-wide awards, the BC3/BC4 project was praised as a role model for the sector.

Wolverhampton alone has a requirement for 10,000 domiciliary care hours each week and demand levels are similarly high elsewhere across the Black Country. As the age of the local population increases, the numbers of elderly and vulnerable requiring some type of care service, be that in their own or residential home, is set to increase. Around 400 local care businesses currently exist to meet this demand and employ nearly 10,000 people (2.5 per cent of the local working population). They are regulated by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) who, through the National Minimum Standards (NMS) lay down specific targets for qualifications of the workforce. The most pressing of these targets is the requirement that 50 per cent of care staff must obtain National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) level 2 by 2005. As a sector comprising many small businesses with tight staffing ratios, releasing essential staff for traditional paper-based training initiatives has been a difficulty employers face in raising care standards.


In recognition of this difficulty the Black Country Learning and Skills Council (local LSC) developed the award-winning BC3/4 training programme in partnership with employers and social services departments. Acknowledging the necessity of accelerating the NVQ process was the catalyst for the revolutionary programme that eschews the time-consuming paper-based learning techniques in favour of 21st century techniques incorporating the latest laptop technology, scanners and digital cameras. Forming a unique partnership with four local social services departments, the local LSC drew on the European Social Fund to pilot the programme which initially saw more than 150 care workers achieving NVQ level 2. So successful has the project been with both employers and trainees that it has now been expanded to a further 160 local care workers.


Jerry Conway, the sector manager for health and social care at the local LSC was delighted to win the award: “Employers involved in the BC3/4 project have been delighted with the speed with which staff have progressed through their training. The use of paper-free portfolios means a reduction in the amount of time trainees have to spend compiling their NVQ evidence, which in turn means less time spend out of the workplace and more time devoted to the development of practical knowledge and skills.”


Helen Wilcox, owner of Woodford Home Care and chair of the employers sub-group at the Black Country Partnership for Care was delighted with the training her employees received: “Our principle resource is our staff. Participation in the BC3/4 programme has not only helped me meet statutory business requirements but, most importantly, it has motivated and enthused my employees to deliver the best service they can.”


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Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

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Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

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Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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