Have your say about adult learning opportunities in Warwickshire

ConsultationYou are invited to have a say about adult learning opportunities in the county.

Warwickshire County Council is remodelling the county’s adult and community learning provision, which is funded by a Skills Funding Agency grant,  to better meet the learning needs of the county’s residents by providing more qualification based training, key skills, and family learning.

It is the council’s aim to target funding to subsidise the courses that people need, for example, to increase the number of courses that result in a recognised qualification.

As part of this service development to incorporate wider learning opportunities, anyone with an interest in the service is being asked to contribute to these plans.

Over the next few weeks the county council will be gathering views about service access, delivery and course options by inviting people to complete a short questionnaire to find out more about learners’ requirements.

To take part in the informal consultation follow this link to share any ideas you may have before Tuesday 1st October.   Alternatively please leave your comments below.

It is anticipated that this transfer will be fully completed by the end of July 2014 in time for September when the majority of adult and community courses typically commence.

Any changes to the service taking place before this date will not affect learners already enrolled on courses who will be able to complete their current training programmes.

**Stop Press** A press release has been added with further information about the collaboration of the ACL service with Coventry City Council:  Press Release – 24th July 2013


About Warwickshire Observatory
Warwickshire County Council's home for information and intelligence about Warwickshire and its people.

14 Responses to Have your say about adult learning opportunities in Warwickshire

  1. Patricia Hughes says:

    As a recently retired lecturer at Warwickshire College I deplore the loss of recreational evening courses for adults (flower arranging, car maintenance, decorating, sewing etc.). These were seen by government agencies as expensive and unproductive, so funding was withdrawn about a decade ago.

    However such courses provided a stepping stone to literacy, social involvement and future educational options. An adult is anyone over 21, so it was also a sure way to mix age groups, meet fellow students and lecturers, and socialise with people who had the same interests, unlike any other type of current education below university level.

    Above all it offered a path for people to try to study before taking the plunge into the professional world as a beginner. Don’t the young people of today deserve the same opportunities? (I taught modern languages, by the way.)

  2. Thank you for your comments. The proposals do not put forward the withdrawal of these types of courses but in order to ensure the service prioritises those that are most disadvantaged there may be a need to make such courses more self-sustainable or ensure that they can lead to more advanced learning in the future. To offer a point of clarity on opportunities for learning offered at the county’s colleges, whilst they may be used as venues to deliver learning WCC do not currently commission colleges to run our courses for us.

  3. The decommissioning of Adult and Community Learning provision in Warwickshire does not affect just the learner, but also the grass root organisations that support such learning.

    Learners of the type addressed by ACL are typically those who do not have the initiative to identify their own learning needs or access such learning at structured provisions such as a local college. Such learners are usually diffident about their approach to learning and do not see the role that learning may play in their quest to find employment, tackle domestic violence or help children with their homework.

    Community organisations, anchors and charities like the Benn Partnership Centre play a huge role in breaking down such reservations and sustaining the learners at the learning table at little or no cost. In fact, feedback from such partners has helped ACL not just in the very design of certain programs but also in their method of delivery. More often than not, the viability of a program delivery hinges on the number of sustained attendees, which is not possible without that local knowledge and support of local community organisations.

    It is not irrelevant to assume therefore the ‘health and vibrancy’ of these organisations are absolutely vital to reaching into and sustaining learning in the community. Their views are important in shaping any future of learning being delivered in the community.All future learning plans must also be informed of the resources that such organisations can bring to the table and in return build in compensations for the use of these resources to ensure sustainability of not just the learning provision but the organisations themselves.

    The survey linked to this blog aims to capture the views of those learners with initiative and drive, but does not capture the views of those faceless learners who these organisations represent, nor does it capture the views of the organisations themselves.

  4. The help that Adult and Community learning has given me has been great; I am a disabled man and the classes gave me a reason to get out of my home. I’m sad that because of the budget cuts a lot of classes finish early, which these classes helped a lot of people like me. It is sad that we have to pay for other people’s mistakes.

  5. Mary Holden says:

    My friends and I go to COVENTRY for their selection of “ADULT EDUCATION CLASSES/ COURSES”.
    WHY? They are well organised, well advertised, and right price!, so we have fun / social contact at affordable prices, which also encourages learning from more experienced students in the groups.

    Obviously it goes without saying we would like to support our local community / council but that is a non-starter here in Leamington /Warwick.

  6. Lesley Hill says:

    I intended to respond to this questionnaire about learning opportunities in relation to my role as Chairman of North Warwickshire & Coventry Dyslexia Association. However, I found that the structure of the questionnaire was inappropriate. My views are:

    1. Courses that result in qualifications are valuable 2. However, there also need to be available Courses to enable those adults with difficulties in basic reading, writing and arithmetic the opportunity to attend free or very low cost courses. 3. These courses to improve basic skills should include techniques in teaching clients in a dyslexia friendly way. Having already failed at school they will not respond to “more of the same” 4. We are increasingly hearing from unemployed adults who successfully attend interviews and are offered jobs, which are then withdrawn because the person is unable to complete forms. They may also be told that they are a “health & safety” risk. These people desperately need help and support 5. I would support the availability of all the courses listed in the questionnaire for parents of young children.

    Thank you.

    From Lesley Hill Chairman, North Warwickshire & Coventry Dyslexia Association Tel: 024 7631 6813

  7. Thank you all for your comments, I would encourage you all to complete the questionnaire if you have not already done so. Your comments are exactly the type of feedback we are looking for as we are keen to understand exactly what people are looking for in terms of course content, how to address peoples needs and costs to ensure that we can provide people with the best local provision possible.

  8. Vicki Jones says:

    As Lesley has commented I wanted to complete the survey but as I am not a learner it was pointless. I run a community centre in Warwick at which ACL provide literacy and numeracy classes. I also worked for ACL a few years ago as a development worker and totally agree with Gita, the people ACL helps are the people who do not have the confidence or skills to access adult learning and do not see the value of education – UNTIL someone helps, encourages, motivates and supports them to undertake learning. ACL is about providing that support, courses in ‘safe’ places, places that aren’t traditional centres of learning, taught by people who understand the sheer courage it takes to access learning when you haven’t done so for years or you come from a family where education is not valued highly. It is incredibly short-sighted to focus on qualifications, the people ACL was designed to help will fall through the net and will not get the support and encouragement to take up these classes. I feel very sad that the ethos of ACL as providing support and encouragement to non-traditional learners is not being valued, rather it is a ‘bums on seats’ mentality which means once again, those in society who really need the help will not get it. I myself have witnessed myself the power of ACL on numerous occasions and am very sad about these proposed changes, sometimes it should be about the value of a service more than the monetary value, there is too much emphasis these days on the monetary cost of things without looking at the long term social benefit.

    I will not be completing the questionnaire as I cannot answer any of the questions but I hope that my comments here, and those of the other people who have taken time to write, will be taken back to the powers that be.

  9. Isobel Jonas says:

    I want to echo the comments made by Vicki Jones. The questionnaire was not relevant to me so there was no point in completing it. Also, it was not easy to locate especially for those who are not confident in using computers.

    I am an Employment Advisor and Project Officer for a Community Centre in Leamington and work with ACL to provide learning opportunities for Job seekers in particular. In the current climate, the ability to use computers is becoming a necessary evil that is proving a barrier to a lot of people in need. The accreddited courses are very good but a shorter course that provides the basics to allow effective job search would be well received. Because the accreddited courses take 12 weeks, learners who have missed the start have a long time to wait for the next course. In my experience, the venue for learners is also important as the learner needs to feel comfortable and supported. Digital inclusion is high on the agenda at the moment.

    While I accept that ACL wants to provide courses for the community in general, a focus on the courses for those in most need to improve their lives would provide long term benefit. As Vicki points out, I have seen life changing results for learners, after completing the IT courses in particular, and I, for one, would not want ACL to make any changes that would impact on this.

  10. Hi all, thanks for your comments and keep them coming! For your information a recent press release has been added to the above post to help keep you informed.

  11. Posted on behalf of Warwickshire County Council’s Strategic Commissioning Service:

    Thank you for your comments. We would like to clarify a couple of points.

    The purpose of the survey is to help the county council to make practical considerations in terms of learning venues, course timing and types. By asking learners and potential learners what matters to them, we hope to ensure access is not a barrier to enrolment.

    We would like to be explicit that reshaping the adult and community learning provision on offer is not a cost saving exercise. Every penny of the grant from the Skills Funding Agency will continue to be invested in a service to help adult learners develop new skills, gain confidence, and improve basic skills.

    We are merely proposing that the provision we offer places a greater emphasis on courses which improve employment prospects for learners, and offer more for those members of our communities who need extra support.

    We have taken the first steps to develop these proposals, and can now confirm an agreement has been reached for Warwickshire County Council work closely with Coventry City Council with the aspiration to align the council’s respective services across the region under Coventry’s management. It is early days but we are optimistic that this arrangement will improve and increase opportunities on offer for learners.

    You can read more about this at: http://news.warwickshire.gov.uk/blog/2013/07/24/have-your-say-on-adult-learning/

  12. Judy Steele says:

    I’ve left a comment but I’d like to say that the survey doesn’t give anyone who doesn’t directly access the service the chance to comment. Also it’s quite hard to find this area of the website. I have had involvement with ACL and the benefits it brings for a number of years.

  13. Judy Steele says:

    In case my first comment doesn’t get posted as I may have wrongly directed it, here it is
    July 26, 2013 at 8:51 am

    I can’t understand why this service, which is funded centrally, should be under threat at all, or in need of a re-design.
    It’s a fantastic route for people who’ve missed out on education for whatever reason – school doesn’t suit everyone – to improve their skills and to go on if they wish as far as first degree level or further. I know of many examples of the way ACL has helped people into work or college in Lillington. This service is essential as many people are able to access a service in their communities but couldn’t go to college. The linkage with the Children’s Centres is invaluable. Please let it continue in the same form and please end the uncertainty which has been hanging over the service for many months

  14. Posted on behalf of Warwickshire County Council’s Strategic Commissioning Service:

    Thank you for your comments.

    We have widely promoted the survey about access arrangements for adult and community learning. Information is available at libraries, job centres, children’s centres, and ACL venues. Information is also available on the county council website and has been sent to local media.To give more people an opportunity to complete it we have extended the deadline to 1 October.

    Please refer to our comment posted yesterday as well as the news article linked above and note that the provision of adult and community learning opportunities in Warwickshire is not under threat – quite the opposite is true as we look to improve what is on offer. The current service will be in place until this time next year.

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