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Welsh Baccalaureate Community Challenge – Coleg Gwent

Digital Communities Wales (DCW) started working with Coleg Gwent ahead of Get Online Week 2016 – a national campaign that is designed to support more people to learn how to use the internet, computers and mobile devices. The campaign sees a lot of events take place in libraries and other community venues, with staff and volunteers of organisations helping learners to do more online, and was a natural fit for the aims of DCW and the college.

Teaching staff at Coleg Gwent identified 65 IT students who could help out in their local communities during Get Online Week, as part of their Welsh Baccalaureate Community Challenge. While Coleg Gwent has five campuses within Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen, this initial collaboration took place through the Cross Keys campus, in the Caerphilly area.

The 65 students received training from DCW and Get Caerphilly Online (Caerphilly County Borough Council), to prepare them for the questions they would be asked during the sessions they’d be helping out in, how to communicate effectively, and safety in a community setting.

Coleg Gwent students ran drop-in sessions at twenty-two local libraries and community centres across Caerphilly, Monmouthshire and Newport during Get Online Week (16-23 October), working alongside existing digital literacy programmes, in partnership with Digital Communities Wales and Get Caerphilly Online. The students’ involvement meant that Get Online Week 2016 was the largest held in the aforementioned counties since it was first run in 2006.

Feedback from the week was excellent, both from the partners who hosted events and from people that were helped by the students. Elaine Haigh from Coleg Gwent said “I was really pleased that the students got real experience, working with people they hadn’t met before, in an unfamiliar environment. They gained confidence, as they were able to demonstrate skills to people who didn’t have them. This was a realistic and meaningful project”.

“From what I saw personally and have heard from library staff, the behaviour and professionalism of the students was excellent.” Matthew Bevan, Get Caerphilly Online, Caerphilly County Borough Council.

It was this experience that led Digital Communities Wales to develop a Welsh Baccalaureate Community Challenge with the WJEC, that could be undertaken by any school or college in Wales that offers the Welsh Bacc. The challenge is for pupils and students at KS4 level and for the Advanced Qualification.