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National Student Learning Programme (NSLP)
Key Skills project run by the National Union of Students(NUS)

Final Report - November 2000

This work was produced under contract with the Department for Education and Employment. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department for Education and Employment or any other Government Department.

Crown Copyright 2000

Extracts from this document may be reproduced for non-commercial education or training purposes on condition that the source is acknowledged.


DfEE Contract Ref 741/01/19998/99

For further information and / or copies of the report:

National Student Learning Programme
National Union of Students
461 Holloway Road
London N7 6LJ
Tel: 020 7561 6539
Fax: 020 7263 5713


Executive summary


Aims of the project

The organisation of the project

How we delivered the objectives


Results of the project, have aims been achieved?

Products/processes and lessons worthy of wider dissemination

The future, how we will build on the project and its outcomes

Appendix 1: NSLP Steering Committee, and project staff
Appendix 2-4 - see Word6 version


Executive Summary

In late 1997 the National Union of Students won a contract for two years funding from the Department for Higher Education and Employment (DfEE) under the Higher Education and Employment Development Projects programme to undertake a project which focussed on developing key skills amongst students involved in student activities.

The project commenced on 1st April 1998 and although DfEE funding ceased on 30th March 2000 the project continues within the current structures of NUS, a testament to the success of the project.

The purpose of this report is to set out how the National Union of Students went about meeting the aims and objectives of this project. Firstly the report examines organisational structures, looking at how they were created and changes that were made during the life of the project due to the changing emphasis of the project and commitments of project staff and the steering group. The report then goes on to consider the methodology, and evaluates the effectiveness of this methodology in reaching the agreed objectives and focuses on the evaluation strategies that were put in place for the project as a whole. Finally this report considers the achievements in the project to date; including the lessons learned for the future, and points to what the future holds for The National Student Learning Programme (NSLP).

In summarising NSLP as a whole, it is the view of those involved in preparing this report and those involved in the project at every level, that NSLP has been a huge success. Over the last two years 84 student unions have been involved in the scheme, and in the region of 15000 students have been trained in at least one key skill. The use of a peer-training model has been phenomenally successful and although only four of the six desired training packs were produced in the first two years, the remaining two are to be produced before the end of 2000.

NSLP is now integral to the work of the National Union of Students, and thanks to new funding from HEFCE will continue to grow and develop in the new Millennium.


In writing the initial bid to the DfEE for this project in 1998, and even more so now, NUS believed that this project could make a significant contribution to the development of key skills in higher education by providing further enhanced opportunities for students to develop transferable skills.

Students’ Unions through their student activities had been working in this area for many years. The participation of students in union activities allowed them to practise and develop key skills from exposure to real situations.

This project sought to harness that learning and skill development by providing training and support in key skills to students undertaking these activities, and further to this, students themselves would deliver the training provided, following a peer education model.

The project developed from a pilot scheme, which NUS had been running in the West Midlands for three years. This was called "S.O.R.T.S.", Student Officer Representation Training Scheme.

SORTS allowed Students’ Unions to meet their own demands for training and develop the skills of individuals in the process. The success of the pilot scheme led to demand from other regions to operate similar schemes.

Therefore in bidding to the DfEE NUS sought to extend the pilot to a national level. This was seen as a natural extension of NUS’ work allowing us to ensure that large numbers of students would benefit from high quality cost effective key skills training.

Aims and Objectives

The overall aim of the project, as set out in the original proposal, was as follows:

"The National Student Learning Programme aims to develop key skills through Students Unions by establishing a ‘national student trainer network’ involved in providing training for student activities."


1. To establish, within two years, a national network of student trainers who will deliver key skills based training to their peers.

2. To train at least 14,000 students in at least one key skill over the next two years.

3. To produce six high quality, cost effective and comprehensive training resource packs for use by student trainers.

4. To develop a standard portfolio which will allow participants to reflect upon their learning and record it.

5. To encourage students to take responsibility for the creation of their portfolios and record all their development and achievements

6. To develop good practise for students’ unions in the provision of training and supporting activities which will allow them to be recognised by institutions and employers alike as being able to provide a wide range of opportunities for student development of transferable skills.


To summarise, six main outcomes were anticipated

1. Over 1000 students will be trained to deliver key skills training to their peers.

2. Over two years 14,000 students will receive key skills training.

3. Six key skills training packs will be produced.

4. A standard portfolio, which encourages learners to record learning and development, will be given to participants.

5. Good practise in the effective delivery of key skills training will be nationally disseminated.

6. Students’ Unions will be recognised as being able to provide cost effective, quality development opportunities within their institutions.

Organisation of the project

The Structures

Originally, it was envisaged that there would be several key groups or individuals that would need to be part of the project or have some involvement in order to make the project a success. These were:

• The project staff

• The project manager

• NUS Staff

• NUS elected officers

• Staff in students’ unions

• Student officers from participating unions

• Outside organisations such as BUSA, Association of Graduate Recruiters, and employers such as Ford Motor Company.

These groups (or their representatives) and individuals would perform distinct functions, as follows

The Steering Committee

The Steering Committee was formed in order to oversee the work of the project, and it was envisaged that it would comprise:

• 1 elected officer from NUS National Executive

• 1 student officer from a participating college

• 2 members of staff from NUS

• 1 member of staff from a participating college students’ union

• 1 representative from a graduate employer

• 1 representative from the staff of the British Youth Council

The composition was designed to encompass a broad knowledge base and level of expertise. The committee would be responsible for establishing the evaluation strategy and monitoring the work of the venture, and advising on future work strategy.

The Staff

The project would employ two members of staff, a project Co-ordinator and a project administrator, and NUS would provide from amongst their managerial staff a project manager

The project co-ordinator job was designed to carry out much of the activity of the project, in conjunction with NUS staff.

The part-time administrator would support the co-ordinator’s work.

NUS Staff

It was envisaged that NUS Regional Officers would assist in establishing links with possible participant unions, delivering training at residentials, discussing training plans, setting targets with participant unions and generally assisting in the promotion of the project to stakeholders.

Staff in Students’ Unions

It was anticipated that staff in Students’ Unions would assist in the delivery of residential schools and support student trainers. We anticipated a high level of liaison and feedback between the co-ordinator and these staff.

The Network

These groups would form a network that would operate as follows:

network organisation

Effectiveness of the structures

The Steering Committee

The composition of the committee changed over the life of the project. No one was ever recruited from the British Youth Council, and the number of students’ Union staff representatives increased to three. Ensuring student representation on the other hand proved to be more difficult than imagined. The student representative found it problematical to attend all the meetings, due to the pressure of work locally, and other outstanding commitments.

Halfway through the project there was a change in the staff in Ford, initially Matt Cruice was the contact and he demonstrated a huge personal commitment to driving the relationship between NSLP and Ford. His successor Aaron Clayton put an emphasis on NSLP work being more imbedded into the culture of Ford, by pushing towards a team approach. This meant that Ford representatives attended less Steering group meetings but fed their thoughts directly in to the National Co-ordinator.

Support from NUS staff, in terms of Regional Officers at steering committee, also changed over time. Initially Cheryl Turner (Regional Officer in the West Midlands) had been a very important member of the committee bringing a wealth of knowledge relating to the SORTS programme. However at the same time she left NUS, the project line manger also changed, to Sophie Holmes, who is the London Regional Officer.

Meetings were generally well attended, and focussed in terms of agenda and role. Later in the life of the project there were issues about the role of members in bringing ideas to the group, and adding to the development of NSLP as a whole. Seven meetings took place over the two years.

The Project Staff

The project successfully recruited Jonathan Emmins to the post of NSLP National Co-ordinator, which he held from 19th July 1998 to 21st April 2000.

However there were changes in personnel for the administrator’s position and after October 1999, the post was held by a temporary member of staff, Kate Lester, who left the project at the end of June to have a baby.

In fact, babies have definitely been the order of the day, because after only one year of being Line Manager to the project staff, Tracey Foreman went on maternity leave from NUS and was replaced by Sophie Holmes who is the current NSLP Project Manager.

Although there have been changes to personnel, it is clear from the continued success of the project that this did not hamper NSLP in delivering to its participants. However in looking at the way this team operates, there were two areas of concern. Firstly the NSLP National Co-ordinator had too much work, and could have been better assisted if the administrators role had been full time, and possibly more developmental, and secondly the line management position when taken on in a part time capacity, by someone not on the management team of NUS was limited in its scope. This meant decisions were slower around practical management issues, such as space and budget allocation, and limited the degree of management support available to the project staff.

NUS Staff

Problems in gaining commitment from Regional Officers in delivering training arose during the first round of summer residentials. This was a result of those officers already having a heavy workload over the period designated for the residential trainings. The remedy for this situation was to rely more heavily on the staff in students’ unions to fulfil the tutor role at training events. These students’ union staff also provided support at training residentials and acted as ambassadors for the programme.

Regional Officers also had little time to fulfil the other functions originally expected of them. Therefore tasks like setting training targets and training plans fell to the National Co-ordinator, with the support of local staff. Regional Officers were able to assist in the more general promotion of the programme.

Staff and student officers in Students’ Unions

This group have provided invaluable support to the project, to the student trainers on the ground, to the project staff and in contributing to the steering committee. Staff and student officers have pushed forward the NSLP brand, and even when there were tight budget constraints locally many found money for their trainers to attend events. It would be fair to say that they have formed the vital link in the structure, and it is due to their dedication to NSLP and the broad theme of key skill development for students that the programme has been so successful.

The Network

The network structure worked well, and as I outlined above the key to its success has been the staff and student officer commitment, and of course the trainers enthusiasm and drive. In addition, the success of the network can also be attributed to the excellent communication channels maintained by the staff in the project.

How we delivered the objectives

In order to achieve the objectives of the project a number of core activities needed to take place:

• Liasing with participating students’ unions

• Organising residential training schools

• Producing standard operating materials

• Designing and producing the training packs

• Designing and producing the standard portfolio

• Co-ordinating the additional development days to enhance student trainer skills

• Promoting and disseminating good practise

• Recording and monitoring the key skills training which took place

• Promoting the project to employers and institutions

• Seeking additional sponsorship from employers

• Providing support / advice to project participants

These were to take place within the project phases outlined in the original bid.

Liasing with participating students’ unions

• Regional briefings took place shortly after Easter 1998

• Regional Officers worked closely with unions to develop training plans, for which booklets were provided. A minimum of 5 unions in each NUS Region joined the scheme during Spring 1998

• Regular newsletters, updates and e-mails were sent to key stakeholders and participants

• Training materials and ideas were shared and disseminated via Network Days

• Informal networks were created and were very influential as bonds were made. Students unions began to support one another as well as relying on support from NSLP centrally

• Monitoring the work of participating colleges began, for example in the recruitment of trainers, numbers and methods used were observed.

Organising residential training schools

• Venues in each of the regions were booked in consultation with NUS Regional Offices

• Information about the residentials was disseminated and booking forms sent out from NUS centrally in late spring 1998

• Places were booked by unions during spring/summer 1998

• The "Training the Trainers" tutors notes and materials were prepared for the 3 day course

• Residentials were run in 8 regions during August/September 1998

• Each residential was evaluated individually and as a package. Feedback was gathered from both students and tutors.

• One further residential took place in February 1999 in a central venue

• The "Training the Trainers" tutors notes and materials were evaluated and rewritten for the 3 day course

• Residentials took place in 8 regions during August/September 1999

• One top up residential was delivered in February 2000 in a central venue plus the first residential centrally run by NUS in Scotland

• Planning for a Wales residential in September 2000 is underway

• Each residential has been evaluated individually and as a package. This has included taking feedback from both students and tutors.

Producing standard operating materials

• Operators’ Guide 1 ‘Recruitment & Selection’ Pack was produced in spring 1998 to assist unions in setting up the scheme. Advice was given from NUS centrally and the Regional Officers.

• Operators’ Guide 2 ‘Managing your Training Team’ was released in October 1998

• Both guides have been continually revisited, evaluated and updated

• Additional information has been prepared and disseminated as required.

Designing and producing the training packs

The first four packs were to be written and produced by September 1998, these were to include: Course Representative’s Pack; Student Welfare Volunteers pack; Clubs and Societies Officer’s pack; and Student Council Representatives pack. If possible the Key Skills pack was also to be produced in this period. The sixth pack was to be decided at a later date. Ford agreed to fund the production of the packs.

These packs were aimed at acting as guidelines, which could be fitted into the wider training picture of each Students’ Union, as many would want to offer training in broader areas such as budgeting and IT skills.

Although the first four packs were produced within the timeframes of the project, the fifth and sixth packs are to be produced by September 2000.

Designing and producing the standard portfolio

• Jonathan Emmins and Gary Beharrell put together an easy to use ‘Trainers’ Portfolio’ to record and build on training performance

• This was loosely modelled on previous work and an easy to use NVQ Level 3 model

• Skills were split into distinct areas

• Funding was secured from Procter & Gamble to produce the portfolio (they continue to support the project)

• Trainers who completed their portfolio received a trainers certificate at the final network day of the year.

• Numbers of students attaining certification surpassed our initial expectations.

Co-ordinating additional development days to enhance student trainer skills

• Network Days were planned to deliver additional training and provide trainers with a chance to network and see what strategic work was occurring in other unions

• Network Days were held once a term with venues catering for different regions across the UK

• Topics included ‘The Adaptable Trainer’ (dealing with difficult training circumstances), The Sensuous Trainer (accelerated learning techniques), ‘Marketing your Training Programme’, ‘Writing Training Materials’, and ‘Using IT as a Training Resource’.

• Sessions were initially delivered by NUS centrally but as time went on the trainers themselves were encouraged to deliver sessions

• Procter & Gamble and Manpower hosted specific days

• A national network day was held at the Millennium Dome focussing on the NSLP/Manpower CD-Rom and Coaching Skills

The promotion and dissemination of good practise

• Production of two Operators’ Guides

• Production of four Training Packs, and a "Training the Trainers" pack

• Training Residentials

• Network Days

• Staff and Sabbatical Open Forums (held in Ford venues)

• Articles in magazines such as Network (NUS’ bimonthly magazine for student officers) and Stadium (NUS’ magazine produced by Stadia specifically targeted at Student Development practitioners).

• Stadia mailbase.

• Articles in the National Press, such as the Times Higher Education Supplement.

• Informal Networks and meetings with students, officers and staff.

NUS Regional Officers promoting good practice student development in their everyday work with colleges.

Stalls and presentations at national and local NUS events, such as NUS National Conference, and Stadia Conference.

Individual unions undertaking specific development areas and feeding them into NSLP centrally.

Email, telephone and written advice and support from NSLP staff

Following the end of DfEE funding, although the project will not have ended, information about the project and specifically what it has achieved and how it will move forward over the next year is to be disseminated in the following ways:

• Through our events, for example at the recent NUS Convention where there was an NSLP Reception in conjunction with Ford.

• Articles in ‘Network’ and ‘Stadium’.

• We will utilise our partners and use their networks.

• On our Website, which is to be developed following funding from the DfEE Innovations Fund

The recording and monitoring of the key skills training, which took place

• Collecting Evaluation Forms and Feedback from residentials and network days (both tutors and those trained), and collating this into digestible formats for the purpose of evaluation and recording numbers.

• An NSLP evaluation form was devised that was self-duplicating. This was sent to unions, and copies of these forms were returned to NSLP. Alternatively unions devised their own forms based on the NSLP model and sent NSLP copies of these.

• The numbers of students being training in at least one key skill was collected and appear in the appendices of this report.

Promoting the project to employers and institutions

Ford were the first graduate employer to come on board with the scheme. Ford’s interest initially was in unions as a graduate recruiter, and the company wanted to offer NSLP the use of their human resource professionals, and help with residentials. In return they wanted a closer relationship with some unions and their training activities. This relationship developed over the course of the project.

Later other organisations such as Proctor and Gamble, and Manpower also sought to do work with us.

Seeking additional sponsorship from employers

Just under £75k was raised by NSLP in addition to the money provided by the DfEE. In addition to this over £50k was provided by NUS. The majority of this was directly financial although some was received in kind. Sponsorship raised went directly into events or products.

Whilst the financial rewards of spending time raising revenue for the project speaks for itself it is noted that much time was needed to put into this to create good business/union links for this to occur. This did although in a limited way, infringe on other activities in some cases.

It was these partnerships with business as well as those created between the QAA, CVCP and Centre for Recording Achievement that assisted NSLP in its successful bid to the HE Innovations Fund that was granted raising an additional £150k for future activity and diversifying the project.

Providing support / advice to project participants

In addition to the formal methods already described, regular advice and links were provided on a daily basis by both NSLP and NUS.

NSLP maintained a database of unions, which included contact information of staff, sabbatical officers and student trainers. This aided the project staff in the effective support of and communication with participating unions.


It was recognised that continuous evaluation would be essential to ensure that NSLP was achieving its objectives. However before the project could start, evaluation of the pilot schemes took place.

Pre commencement

The first task we undertook was an evaluation of the two pilot projects currently in operation.

The methods involved included:

Compiling records of training being undertaken in participant unions

Reviewing feedback forms from residentials

Conducting focus groups comprised of staff and students of current participants.

Evaluating current support material.

This process highlighted the potential difficulties in operating the project, as well as being able to identify good practice. It was important that we learnt from the pilots before rolling out the scheme nationally.

An example of one of the issues for consideration was whether the project should create links with careers services and Vice Chancellors. This had been attempted previously with SORTS but had had little response. When evaluated it appeared that institutions were more interested in study skills rather than key skills. The response therefore was to create links instead between departments and unions.

Below are evaluation comments made by some of the participants in the SORTS training the trainer’s programme, followed by action points that were taken by NSLP to remedy issues that arose.

1. "No pre-course material provided"/"Would have appreciated a course agenda"

Both content of course and practical details such as "bedding" are provided to participants in the form of joining instructions 2 weeks prior to arrival.

2. "Good opening day layout"

It is important at the beginning of the course to explain clearly the structure of the three days. This makes it easier to clear the fears

3. "It was good getting to know my group. Being faced with the whole group could have been daunting"

It was suggested that with the exception of the plenary, participants should spend Day 1 in university groups, Day 2 in mixed groups, and Day 3 return to university groups.

4. "Follow up literature on Games in Training"

Where possible we should include recommendations for further reading/web-sites etc.

5. General comments on Day 3 "Shame more time wasn’t available to catch up with other universities before leaving"

The suggestion was that on the afternoon of Day 3, there should be a social event e.g. bowling. Although this didn’t happen as suggested, we did build in more social activity in the evening, which was participative, like quizzes.

Evaluation during the project

The project was subject to regular formative self-evaluation. This took place using a number of methods related to the project objectives.

At the first steering committee meeting, the group planned a full evaluation strategy. After this point they were responsible for monitoring the progress of the project. This was achieved via regular reports from the National Co-ordinator, and evaluation figures and feedback supplied by the Project Administrator, which were discussed at Steering Committee meetings.

Below is a brief version of the strategy, highlighting the main evaluation methods, and what action was taken.

Training the Trainers Residentials

• Feedback from SORTS and related Training the Trainers residentials was reviewed and comments considered.

• The Administrator monitored numbers of new Student Trainers at residentials and regional dispersion and these were presented to the Steering Committee. There were some questions over the appropriateness of having a standard for regional numbers of Trainers as we were encouraging the amount of Trainers to be appropriate to the needs elsewhere. Therefore regional dispersement became a less relevant evaluation tool.

Network Days

• Network Days were devoted to the ongoing development and broadening of Trainers. Evaluation forms were used to find out how beneficial these were, and informal feedback was also noted. The project administrator monitored numbers.

• Network work days, newsletters and e-mails all gave indicators to the standards unions were reaching and offered subconscious goals for improvement.

On-going links

• A yearly questionnaire was distributed to all trainers and staff on how they believe the network element of NSLP is developing and suggestions to continue this advancement. This was replaced by the idea of the Ford Open Forum. Two of these took place over the life of the project.

In the Unions

• We undertook to set training plans with student unions aided by the Operators Guides one and two. We continually sought feedback on these guides from members and revisited and revamped the guides to suit participant unions needs. In these guides there were two forms, which we asked participating unions to fill in so that we could monitor recruitment and selection methods and equal opportunities in trainer recruitment. The Administrator collated these for the Steering Committee

• Standard evaluation forms were provided for both Student Trainers and trainees for when they deliver courses. On the Student Trainer forms there were sections, which Trainers provided information on number of participants and indication of the key skills session. Questions leading to feedback on the course packs were included. Two copies were be made, one for the Student Trainers’ portfolios and one for the NSLP Administrator.

Although it was impressed upon the Student Trainers and the relevant student and staff members, the importance of returning the information with regards to the DfEE, we found it difficult to obtain all the forms and figures from some unions.

See appendices 2 and 3 for more details on this aspect of the evaluation process.

Training Packs

• Before the packs went to print an objective review of them was made by external bodies with training experience, notably Ford, and staff with training experience from participant unions.

• Trainers were also given the opportunity to evaluate the materials as ‘they are only of high quality if trainers can use them for good effect’. It was felt that a number scheme would be inappropriate here as we wished to encourage thoughtful constructive criticism. The administrator for evaluation purposes collated these. Trainers were also given an opportunity to discuss the course material at Network Days, and comments were recorded. It is from these forums that we gained feedback on the evaluation forms themselves.

• The Trainers decided upon the sixth pack’s content collectively at network days. This was important as it fostered the notion that Trainers have some control over the development of NSLP, consequently increasing the feeling of ownership. Unfortunately, although some of the work for the fifth and sixth packs is done, the packs have yet to be completed. We anticipate they will be ready for distribution to participant colleges in September 2000.


• STADIA examined other portfolio schemes to pick up on their good and bad points.

• Yearly questionnaires were planned to ask whether Trainers use the portfolios and their opinions of it. Unfortunately this has not taken place yet as other pressures on the project meant this was not possible. However suggestions on how to make the portfolios more users friendly were made welcome through emails discussion groups.

• From a student perspective, often the perceived proof that completing a portfolio is beneficial is only when it is tied to a big corporate sponsor/graduate recruiter. Therefore we tied the portfolio into the Ford sponsorship deal, and sought extra sponsorship from Proctor and Gamble. A Proctor &Gamble representative also signed the certificates that students, who completed their portfolio, received at the end of the year.

The real test for portfolios will be their use for graduates seeking jobs. Because many of the trainers in NSLP have only just graduated it has been hard to undertake any first destination work. However this will be a priority in the coming year.

Opportunities for student development and transferable skills

• A key evaluation tool would be to chart the development of NSLP trainers. Although this did not happen formatively, we can see from just a few examples that NSLP trainers went on to esteemed positions of Sabbaticals in their union, and in the past few months some of those trainers have gone on to work for some of the larger graduate recruitment firms.

• Supplementary training materials were produced on a regular basis, and this was done in collaboration with NSLP senior trainers. A good example of this is the advanced presentation skills training that senior trainers undertook with the Kingstree group, which led to them producing a supplementary training guide.

• Finally we ensured Trainers were using their portfolios, by creating a local mentor system. By doing this trainers were automatically able to recognise their transferable skills.

In summary, we did not achieve as much evaluation as we had initially hoped, however data was continuously collected and the methods described above were used to evaluate the success of the project. The steering committee received regular reports and the informal and formal networks of NSLP created a continual cycle of evaluation, reflection and action.

Results of the project, have aims been achieved?

The overall aim of the project, as set out in the original proposal, was as follows:

"The National Student Learning Programme aims to develop key skills through Students Unions by establishing a ‘national student trainer network’ involved in providing training for student activities."

Did we develop key skills through students unions?

• 84 institutions were involved in the programme. This was on a self-selection basis, given the constraints that we placed on them. These constraints included having a dedicated member of the union (usually staff) available locally to support student trainers.

• This promoted a training culture across these students unions. Unions were required to come up with a training strategy, setting local targets for the numbers of students to be trained, and what activity this would help them to develop their skills in.

• The scheme raised the profile of self-development and transferable skills amongst students, via the local training delivery, use of the portfolios, and training and presentations at all NSLP and NUS events.

• The most important feature of this scheme was that it created an alternative and complimentary avenue for students to develop themselves, by rolling out a programme of training which supported current students union activity.

Was there a national student trainer network?

During the life of the project

• 17 Residential Training The trainers were delivered

• 550 Trainers trained

• 20 Networks Days took place

• 2 Open Forums run

• 9 Other training sessions delivered at events such as Trainers Network, Media Conference, London Students Development day, and Scotland NSLP day.

• And in total 1475 student delegates were trained by NSLP

The many other tools used for networking and support described in previous chapters created a special feeling of commitment to the national scheme. Participants were encouraged to meet their local targets so that nationally NSLP would meet theirs. Word of mouth travelled fast and soon Student Unions in Scotland and Wales also wanted to take part in the scheme. This created the current network that is larger than England alone.

Was training provided for those engaged in student activities?

• Over 15,000 students trained, in at least one key skill.

• The students trained locally were involved in course representative systems, student union clubs and societies, welfare volunteering, or were representatives on their union council.

Products/processes and lessons worthy of wider dissemination

What were the products?

• 2 operator’s guides

• 4 Resource Packs

• Training the Trainers tutor notes and materials

• CD Rom training pack

Tangible benefits

• NSLP established as a respected brand for further work

• Work and partnership with the QAA on the Progress File

• Increased dialogue between the CVCP and NUS

• Potential commercial benefits for training packages sold to academic institutions (from NSLP both centrally and locally)

How useful are the outcomes and benefits?

• Vital to all students’ unions that participate in the scheme

• NSLP is a full part of NUS culture

• Created links between unions and institutions at a local level

• Foundations built for many spin off developments and partnerships

What were the processes that were useful?

• Separating key skill development from academic development

• Key skills once separated from academic study could branch into other areas such as marketing and media skills

• ‘Laughter lubricates learning’ – students more likely to develop skills when they are doing voluntary activities that they enjoy

• Using local models that member unions had developed and adapting them to a national level

• Using and adapting the NUS networks already in place

• Using existing NUS resources and expertise (e.g. the NUS Training Unit)

• Encouraging as much involvement and ownership as possible on a local level

• Using business links to secure commitment from both institutions and students, and vice-versa

• Using year one to experiment, after which a firm plan was put into place for year two

• The DfEE two day conference in 2000

What processes weren’t helpful

• The Steering Committee role in the latter stages could have been adapted to help the project better

• The different yet similar roles that Stadia and NSLP have sometimes created tensions. One example was Stadia setting up a trainer’s network, which could have impinged on NSLP’s role. A positive result was achieved through combining the work of the two projects in this area

What lessons are there to be learned?

• Although marketing takes time, the benefits can outweigh the effort both in terms of prestige and resources

• It is better to use the DfEE funding as a start up rather than the sole basis of funding

• Working on a national basis creates more excitement and enthusiasm and spreads more good practice than on a local level

• Student trainers undertake once one year of training further training opportunities are required, and continued skill development needs to take place. The rise in numbers of "senior trainers" has meant that NSLP has had to develop new training resources.

• There were sometimes problems related to network days because the staff and senior trainers needed more developed training techniques to be addressed. The trainers network has to some degree replaced this.

• The initial training the trainer’s package does not develop students as consummate trainers, but as good deliverers of key skills training. It is important to understand the differences.

• Accreditation vs. recognition is still a debate that has not been resolved, and needs further consideration.

• There was much debate during the life of the project about whether to regionalise the network days. It was thought that this would increase ownership, and development of trainer’s skills. The new funding from HEFCE will help us to explore this avenue.

• Once the project was up and running there was interest from Scottish and Welsh students unions. Unfortunately because the DfEE funding only covered England, it was difficult to meet the needs of these Students’ Unions in the way we would have liked.

The future, how we will build on the project and its outcomes

NUS will be continuing the work of the NSLP programme into the new millennium. At our National Conference in April 2000, delegates decided to core fund this activity, as it is seen as fully embedded into the work of NUS as a whole.

The 84 unions, 15000 students and the many staff in participating unions and the National Union are dedicated to the concepts of peer training and student development and NSLP has become the catch phrase for delivery of these two things to students across the UK.

Following the decision to continue the core work of NSLP, NUS was successful in two bids to the DfEE innovations fund for work in the areas of Equal Opportunities and Progress Files.

The Equal Opportunities and Graduate Employability project seeks to raise awareness of equal opportunities as a student union and student issue. Striking to the heart of students’ unions asking them to look at their policies, implementation strategies and practice in relation to employment and service provision. It seeks through a team of developed NSLP trainers to deliver equal opportunities training to student staff and students themselves. In addition it aims to raise the issue of equal opportunities on campus.

The Bridging the Key Skills Gap project, seeks to develop an on line progress file for students involved in developing their key skills, and for the first time seeks to address the issue of involving less developed unions and FE unions in partnerships with existing NSLP unions so that more students can benefit from key skill development.

In order to accomplish this NUS has created a new department called Development Projects, and has employed three new full time members of staff. These include a Development Projects Manager, a Training Development Consultant and a Network Development Co-ordinator.

NUS will continue, via this new department, to deliver the "Training the Trainer" residentials, support participant unions and trainers, develop networking opportunities and graduate sponsors, and will deliver the training packs promised in this initial bid to the DfEE.

Appendix 1

NSLP Steering Committee 1999-2000

Owain James, National Secretary


Aaron Clayton, Manager, Ford Motor Company Ltd,

European Marketing, Sales and Services

Eagle Way


Essex CM13 3BW Tel: 01277 252583

Jim Dickinson, University of the West of England

Coldharbour Lane

Frenchay, Bristol

BS16 1QY Tel: 0117 965 6261 ext 2577

Fax: 0117 976 3909

Ian Robinson, General Manager

University of Bath S.U.

Claverton Down


Somerset BA2 7AY

Tel: 01225 826362 Fax: 01225 444061

Jane Whalen, Development & Activities Manager

Staffordshire University Students’ Union

College Road

Stoke On Trent, Staffs


Tel: 01782 294629 Fax: 01782 744 588

Mobile: 0973 119322

Gary Beharrell, Student Development & S.M.

University of Nottingham Union of


Portland Building

University park


NG7 2RD Tel: 0115 935 1100

Fax: 0115 935 1101 / Mobile: 0831 746 628

Jane Austick, Executive Officer

Higher Education & Employment Division

Department for Education & Employment

Room N4, Moorfoot

Sheffield S1 4PQ

Tel: 0114 259 3141


Sophie Homes, Development Projects Manager


Tel: 0207 561 6539

Fax: 0207 263 5713

NSLP Co-ordinator


Tel: 0207 561 6528

NSLP Administrator


Tel: 0207 561 6529



Jonathan Emmins, National Co-ordinator NSLP.

On behalf of the contractor, NUS

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