Select Committee on Education and Skills Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 6

Memorandum from Jo Horsfall (ILA 29)

  1.  As a registered ILA provider, I stumbled across, and watched with interest the Committee session held on 23 January, and was impressed with the openness and frank discussion of the Committee. As a provider, who has suffered a complete wall of silence when trying to access information, it would have been reassuring to have been made aware that this was actually taking place. My only comment on the balance of the proceedings would be the representation by providers, who were all from within the I.T. training sector, rather than a broader range of courses available within the remit of the I.L.A

  2.  I would like to add a few points to the discussion on the I.L.A. Scheme.

  3.  This scheme was for me personally very beneficial, and the manner in which it closed was devastating, to both myself and the students whom I served.

  4.  Firstly, a little background into my teaching practice. I teach Reiki (pronounced Ray-kee) which is a complementary therapy, with stress reduction and relaxation benefits. Training both therapists, who can practise professionally once qualified and the general public—encouraging people to take responsibility for their own health, with good results—rather than stretch the over-burdened N.H.S. service, with minor complaints.

  5.  Most students, approx 135 in the last year, take Reiki in two stages, the first teaches them to care for themselves, with the emphasis of the second upon assisting others. Many of my students have elected to complete the optional case studies, where they undertake to treat and write up 30 treatments, which I assess, and if competent I certify them as practitioners.

  6.  It has not been my experience that attendance suffered as a result of them having paid less for their course, on the contrary— I have put in place a system, where if a student has to miss a session on their course, they can attend that session on a future course (which has resulted in an very high attendance rate).

  7.  At £80 for first degree and £100 for second degree, students with the £150 entitlement were able to take both first and second degree for £30.00 (and in an area of high unemployment this was of real use to many students).

  8.  When the first disappointing announcement was made in October, I spent the time up until the abrupt closure of the scheme, contacting some 70 students, co-ordinating them into suitable groups as far ahead as June 2002 (when the scheme claims were to finally close), hiring halls to facilitate their learning (I operate from three centres locally) and ordering resources to fulfil their requirements. This was a lot of work.

  9.  As I was already busy teaching, I had scheduled time on Sunday 25th to place these students onto the I.L.A. system (thinking I had done well, in such a short space of time, to have completed the task well ahead of schedule). A scehdule of this information has been submitted to both the I.L.A. Centre and my local M.P. Ivan Henderson.

  10.  Many of my students had completed their first degree Reiki and had booked with me to do their second, within the first half of this year. The vast majority have now either withdrawn completely due to the lack of finances or have had to postpone until they can afford to do the course.

  11.  Therefore, the effect of the abrupt withdrawal of the scheme has left me starting from scratch, attempting during December and January to recruit new students, when I had been misled into believing that the scheme was to be honoured until June, which would have given me time to rebuild.

  12.  My students are understandably unhappy, they honoured their commitment by paying £25 for their training, which the Government committed to match with £150 worth of training, many only received £55, only to have the balance snatched back from them, and the opportunities this would have afforded them. They have been particularly perturbed by the fact that they all received a letter stating that they were not to panic into signing up for training, as they had until 7 December!

  13.  I heard mention of compensation for providers who lost work through the moving of the goal posts on the deadline, but personally, I would really like the opportunity to offer the funded training for my students, as undertaken by the Government.

  14.  My thoughts, with regard to the Website and booking of training, in addition to some mentioned during the above session, it seems to me that the provider should state the name, as well as the Membership number for a prospective student, so that claims cannot be made by randomly punching in numbers, rather than have the name appear automatically.

  15.  I had an instance of a student being told by the Centre that she had a balance of £50.00 on her account, she did not use it elsewhere, but when I tried to access it, a warning appeared that the money had been used for the year—I can supply details if these are required for your investigation.

  16.  With regard to the disparity of offering 20 per cent discounts for therapies such as Reiki and 80 per cent for Computer and numeracy courses. Whilst I agree we want a Computer literate society—surely we also want a nation who takes responsibility for it's health (recently highlighted by cardiac care).

  17.  In conclusion, I would like to state that I feel that the whole I.L.A. situation has been handled rather unprofessionally, and feel that both my students and myself as a provider have been penalised for the fraudulent claims of others, with the kneejerk reaction of closing the scheme, damaging the learning experience of the very students the Government had hoped to attract back into learning.

  18.  Please do not forget, when implimenting a new scheme that many students benefit from all types of training—not just IT!!

Jo Horsfall

3 February 2002



 
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