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COOL - Creating Opportunities for Ongoing Learning

Partnership information


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All activity undertaken by the partnership have a common basis in the Scottish policy document “Life Through Learning Through Life” in relation to some of the most disadvantaged and disengaged individuals and groups in Scotland. In particular activity relates to the people-centred goals: to build personal confidence; to provide opportunity to all to learn; to provide guidance and support in respect of learning decisions.

The DP has been supporting activity which has a sustainable impact on the lives of the beneficiaries for the good;  promotes good practice among peers and practitioners so that others may benefit;  cascades/disseminates understanding of equal opportunities developed through diversity awareness and promotes inclusive attitudes among peers/practitioners;  develops/presents a case for relevant policy makers and influencers for the widespread adoption of successful methods and approaches from the pilot phase.  


Creating Opportunities for Ongoing Learning (COOL) aims to engage non-traditional learners using a variety of innovative activities and techniques that empower the individual to learn. COOL also aims to create a culture of inclusion that will accommodate learning and seeks by innovative methods to reconnect disenfranchised learners back into education and training that will support both employment and employment readiness.


  • to use the Arts as a catalyst to ‘hook' hard-to-reach groups into learning and to empower beneficiaries
  • to explore gender-based barriers to learning
  • to create a pool of work-based diversity trainers
  • to develop mentoring frameworks to support learners directly
  • to implement action-based learning to raise awareness of inclusion issues in trade unions
  • to pilot e-learning and learning support activity to engage prisoners and the homeless in learning and to empower them
  • to develop a portable learner centred qualification in recognition of foreign language skills.
Target Groups  
  • Young people in transition (14-23).
  • BME young women.
  • Disabled women and men who would like to engage in non-gender stereotyped learning.
  • Workers at risk of redundancy or de-skilling; single parents.
  • Homeless; short term prisoners; and refugees. 



Round 1 to Round 2

The development of the COOL Partnership was made possible due to the networks and contacts established through the Round One DP SWELL.  Scottish TUC trained diversity champions from amongst TU representatives which combined with research informed the need to further cascade diversity practices in the Unions. As a result in Round 2, action research was commissioned on two levels; Policy representatives and grass-roots members. In addition the need to work with employers to create an inclusive culture in the workplace was identified and led to the development of employer/trade union partnerships in Round 2.

Transnational partnerships


Lorraine Glen, Scottish Further Education Unit,


Action 2: 30 June 2007
Action 3: 31 December 2007

Equal theme

Lifelong learning and inclusive working practices


COOL is led by the Scottish Further Education Unit. The SFEU is the key development agency for Scotland's colleges working in close partnership with colleges and maintaining a high level of understanding of the developmental issues facing Scotland's colleges. In addition to work supported by core funding, SFEU undertakes a number of project-based activities in curriculum and staff development designed to maintain the position of Scotland's colleges at the forefront of lifelong learning. The Equal project has enabled the formation of a a partnership which has been addressing the needs of a variety of socio economic groups who remain outside the accepted norm of traditional learning culture.


BME groups, Ex-offenders, Homeless people, People with disabilities, Refugees
Total beneficiaries: 1282

Intended impact/ sustainability

Examples of the DPs impact include: existing networks have expanded and new ones forged; Trade Union/Employer partnerships will continue; the diversity course is accredited and therefore available throughout the UK.  The SFEU Mentoring project refers to the Scottish Mentoring Network for guidance and advice and will use this channel for dissemination throughout Scotland. 

The DP has developed new qualifications on recognising learners’ achievements and is tracking these through a number of frameworks, such as the SCQF or the literacy strategy for Scotland at regional level, or Modern Apprenticeship frameworks at national level.  In addition a new qualification in modern languages has been developed called Certificate in Applied Language Studies (CALS).

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Process X X
Product X
Policy X X
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Each individual project has engaged with local networks or appropriate support organisations for their activity from the outset. This approach ensures that activity is informed by specialist advice and opinion and that there are established distribution channels readily available for the final products.


From inception the DP has set out to engage with key regional and national policy makers, funding sources and other influential bodies. These include the Scottish Executive, ASC, SFEFC, SHEFC, various Trades Union affiliates etc.


As a result of the cooperative process and practice with appropriate stakeholders, the products are robust and are already part disseminated in the community due to the consultative process of development.


Mainstream activity will engage with the Scottish Executive (departments as noted in regional policy) and the national Department for Education and Skills. Also national policy influencers through our regional links with learndirect scotland, STUC and employer representative organisations. Our aim is to influence their strategy development through our successful pilot activity.


In addition to strategies described for regional/national, the DP seeks also to influence via its TNG and through national contacts the European Parliament and Commission.

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Activities and products

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