30 Jul 2020

How learning continued in lockdown at the Harrison Centre

The Harrison Centre for Social Mobility was set up in 2017 to level up Britain and boost employability prospects for young people.


As the country grapples with the economic and social effects of Covid-19, our mission has taken on an even great significance.


Already left behind communities face the greatest backlash from coronavirus. That’s why we and our partners at the Foundation of Light have stepped up our efforts in this crisis to prevent existing divides, deepening further.


Based at the Beacon of Light, a vibrant centre of opportunity in Sunderland, the Harrison Centre is a place where young people from disadvantaged back grounds can learn and get their lives back on track.


Hundreds of young people aged 13-19 who have fallen out of mainstream education are turning their lives around at the Harrison Centre and unleashing hidden potential with the support of dedicated and outstanding tutors.


The Covid-19 lockdown presented a new challenge and one that the Harrison Centre and Foundation of Light have risen to.


The Foundation redeveloped the programmes delivered at the Harrison Centre – Back in the Game and Back on Track – to move to an inclusive e-learning programme of delivery.


All 34 Back on Track participants continued to be engaged by course tutors through Microsoft Teams, and for learners who did not have access to technology or the internet, tutors posted workbooks and course resources to learners at home and drove to participants houses to pick up learner work to continue the assessment process.


Harrison Centre learners completed qualifications across the four months of lockdown which included: Maths and English, Personal and Social Development, ICT, Sport, Health and Social Care and Customer Services, all of which had a module of managing finances embedded into the work programme.


Learners have now returned to staggered classroom delivery with 98% of learners returning to face to face delivery.


Across Back in the Game, tutors at the Harrison Centre developed 15 new programmes specifically designed to meet the needs of lockdown, engaging the adult learners and their children together in course activities to ensure positive family relationships over the course of lockdown.


Within three weeks, tutors had developed new schemes of work to provide accredited programmes focusing on health and wellbeing, physical activity, work skills and employability as well as managing finances and home cooking skills. Within a month of launching the programmes, the Foundation had enrolled 76 learners on programmes, offering daily contact with participants via Microsoft Teams to support participants through their programmes.


To ensure the hardest to reach learners can benefit from the Harrison Centre’s employability programmes, the team is taking forward examples of what has worked well in lockdown to include a mixed delivery approach from September, with online learning and face to face classroom delivery.


Delivery over lockdown has been a real success and has generated new ways to support young people to make the most of their talents and potential.