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Information or Advice and Guidance Essay

I work as Locality Co-ordinator for NALS, based at The Gatehouse in Hexham.

My role is varied and no two days are the same, however predominantly I manage the building on a daily basis, dealing with the public, clients, tutors and any other persons who access the building.

I ensure safe working practices/classrooms in accordance with Northumberland County Council policies as well as working closely with the Locality Manager to ensure the smooth running of centre/courses. I also deal with any issues as and when they should arise.

I contribute to the development of the service and monitor client attendance. I provide information, advice and guidance to clients enquiring about courses/finance as well as advising enrolled clients about choices for progression routes

Where I am not able to help a client directly I can refer or signpost them for specialist help.

I have provided information and advice to a support worker enquiring on the behalf of a client who is supported in the community, the client volunteers in a local charity shop but struggles with reading.

I referred the client to the NALS brochure which she had with her at the time. I drew her attention to the free Functional Skills English class which takes place on a Tuesday with tutor Ged, which covers both reading and writing. I explained that an assessment would have to be carried out to ascertain the client’s level. I arranged for a time and date on which the client could be assessed with a view to her potentially beginning the course.

I have provided information and advice to a local employer regarding construction courses. I referred to the NALS website and read out brief descriptions of the courses on offer. I sent an e-mail to the client signposting him to Mike Smith who is the course leader. I also provided PDF documents of course descriptions.

The clients who access The Gatehouse vary from 16-85 years old. The younger clients are those who did not gain any qualifications at school and whom work towards their Functional Skills (in ICT, Maths and English) parallel to the their chosen course e.g. Working with Children and Young People. Some clients study Access to Higher Education to gain entry into Further/Higher Education. Mature students enrol on a variety of courses whether this be a leisure course or certificated course in languages or ICT. Courses are advertised in brochures which are published three times throughout the year (Autumn, January and Summer.) Leaflets, posters are also displayed in the local job centre e.g. certificated courses such as ICT to help gain employment.

NALS has a dedicated website describing courses as well as an electronic version of the brochure. Adverts are also placed in the local press (‘Hexham Courant’.)

I also post out information to clients, discuss courses over the telephone and e-mail.

Some clients come to the centre and face a particular barrier such as disability. When supporting clients who have a hearing impairment I can either send information electronically or use an induction loop system if the client is in the centre.

For visually impaired clients I produce information resources in large text and for ESOL clients information is provided in another language e.g. NALS brochure.

I also use different colours of paper for dyslexia.

I currently have a client who has impaired vision, for whom I produce all information materials in a large font onto A3 paper.

Another client who has dyslexia has benefited from resources which I copy onto yellow paper.

To meet the needs of clients who have limited mobility I organise the timetable so that their course is on the ground floor rather than on the first floor.

I currently support a client on a language course whose health has deteriorated recently due to arthritis/operations. The class took place on the first floor and she was finding the stairs difficult (we do not have a lift). When this was brought to my attention, I met her needs by moving the class to the ground floor for ease of access.

Prior to courses starting enrolment forms are completed by either myself or by clients and once clients commence their courses these forms are sent to Head Office and centrally stored. Enrolment forms that remain on-site are held in locked filing cabinets. Any data which is held electronically e.g. spreadsheet of students on current courses containing any personal details such as date of birth/contact details is password protected. This is all carried out in line with Data Protection Act 1988.

Northumberland County Council holds a ‘clean desk policy’ therefore any client information is locked away at the end of each day

In the reception area of my centre a variety of leaflets are on display in racks covering topics such as course information and safeguarding. These can be accessed by clients at any time.

In the line with the Equality Act 2010 I can contact Head Office to obtain leaflets in other languages.

In my centre I have set up a spreadsheet which holds information on current students such as:-

Contact Details
Date of Birth
Start/End date
Payment method

This is password protected and kept up to date and easily accessible.

Head Office centrally hold all enrolment forms once clients have commenced a course, however the electronic system ‘EBS’ is not always up to date (the front end of the database which we have access to) and sometimes it is difficult to retrieve information on ‘current’ clients.

If clients have a change of circumstance, I use online forms to notify Head Office of this e.g. should they move address, contact details, or withdraw from a course. Copies of any changes are also kept on file in office/within course registers.

Online forms, once submitted now automate an acknowledgement that they have been received via e-mail. Copies of this e-mail are kept in folders within my e-mail i.e. ‘Withdrawal confirmation’ as well as a paper copy of the submitted form.

I monitor all information leaflets in the centre ensuring that they are up to date and re-order when necessary.

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