Leith-based charity Playbase Training, specialists in early years childcare courses, has introduced an online learning platform and new free app to help students gain qualifications and help with digital skills.

Chair, Freda O’Byrne, said: “Two years ago we decided that we needed to explain to others what we did in a clearer way. We also knew we needed to respond to the changes in the digital world by improving our own skills and finding ways to help our students improve theirs.

“A report by the Royal Edinburgh Society told us that one in five adults in Scotland do not have basic digital skills. We felt that, if we could help our students improve their digital skills and awareness at the same time as they were attending our courses then we would be truly helping them on the path to further education, training or employment, to accessing services, to finding out about jobs, to becoming fully digital citizens.”

Since 1999 the charity has provided local training to parents, carers and those with an interest in working in childcare and recently received Enterprise Ready Funding to embrace digital technology for online learning. The new digital platform will be available to existing students immediately and new students can also apply to study purely online extending the charity’s reach beyond Edinburgh. The Playbase 3 Course is newly accredited and offers students a better chance to access further learning opportunities and enter a career in childcare.

Many of the current students haven’t studied since school, are new to Edinburgh and do not have the confidence or digital skills to enter further education. With the guidance of experienced tutors, the students will be supported in online learning and the website will allow students to access coursework, upload assignments and engage with other students and tutors to improve the learning process.

Development Manager, Maria Sherrington, said: “Courses are open to everyone with an interest in young children. We are excited by the diversity in our classrooms. A typical class of 12 students regularly has as many as nine nationalities. We actively encourage different communities to share their culturally diverse experiences and approaches to parenting and working with young children as part of the learning process. We believe this support can also be provided online as students have the opportunity to engage with others in chat rooms and form an online community. Many people are used to communicating by email or on Facebook so it’s just a progression to online learning.”

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