Ofsted praises Swindon Council’s adult learning scheme

By Anita Jaynes on 27 May, 2020

An education programme which helps adult learners into training or employment, has been rated ‘Good’ with outstanding features by inspectors.

Yesterday, Tuesday 26th May, Ofsted delivered its verdict on Swindon Borough Council’s Adult Community Learning programme following an inspection in March.

The Council is responsible for delivering adult learning programmes for people across the borough.

Funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, the Council’s Adult Community Learning programme provides high quality learning which supports adult learners who are unemployed or on a low wage to develop the necessary knowledge and skills that enable them to progress in life, work and well-being regardless of their starting points.

At the time of the inspection, which took place between 11th and 13th March, 100 adult learners were enrolled on short community learning programmes.

The overall ‘Good’ rating was broken down into several categories including the quality of education, leadership and management, and the learning programmes themselves. Ofsted rated the behaviour and attitudes of learners and their personal development as ‘outstanding’.

Courses offered include support for parents, healthy cooking, English for speakers of other languages, health and wellbeing, crafting, digital skills, English and maths and programmes which help learners develop their personal skills and explore their work options.

Ofsted noted that “learners enjoy their learning and value the care they receive from staff” and that “tutors are compassionate and sensitive”.

Inspectors also wrote that: “Learners are not afraid to make mistakes. They meet challenges with good humour and are optimistic about making the changes they want in their lives. 

“Many learners talk with pride about having been recognised for the high quality of their work and their efforts. This includes winning ‘learner of the month’ awards.  

“Learners benefit from attending courses in local community settings that are close to where they live. This helps them to overcome barriers they may experience if they need to travel far and strengthens their sense of being part of a local community.”

The inspectors also praised tutors for their role in supporting those who enrol on the various courses. The report added: “Tutors skilfully and sensitively support learners, many of whom face significant challenges to their health and wellbeing. They look actively for opportunities to relate learning to learners’ personal situations. They support them well to develop their own ways of overcoming any barriers to learning.

“This approach is helping learners overcome the various challenges they face.”

Feedback from learners on recent courses included:

•“I love the relaxed atmosphere and the enthusiasm of the tutor”

•“The course has given me more confidence and a new hobby!”

•“My course brought out the best in me, it has helped me to become more thoughtful and patient.”

•“I found that my course has given me the ability to grow as a person, in confidence and skills that I would never have thought I had.”

Councillor Russell Holland, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Commercialisation, Education and Skills, said, “I am delighted that Ofsted has recognised the hard work of council staff and tutors which has made such a difference to the lives of adult learners in Swindon.

“It’s a pleasure to read the comments of the inspectors and we will use this positive feedback as further impetus to continue to deliver the service to a high standard.”

To find out more about the Council’s Adult Community Learning programme visit: www.swindon.gov.uk/acl

Courses are not currently taking place due to the current coronavirus situation, but a new programme of courses will be available in the autumn subject to government advice. Anyone who would like updates on future courses should email: acl@swindon.gov.uk.

Pictured above: Swindon learners at a recent Adult Community Learning awards celebration event.