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Family and Community Learning service achieves glowing report from Ofsted

The service aims to help learners of different ages and backgrounds reconnect with learning, gain new knowledge and skills, and progress to further learning, employment or volunteering.

Published 11 December 2020
Family and Community Learning

Ofsted inspectors have praised a Wiltshire Council learning service which shifted courses online to ensure people could still access training and qualifications during the pandemic.

Before March, Wiltshire Council's Family and Community Learning (FaCL) service used community venues to teach adult learning programmes for those who are, or who are at risk, of being disadvantaged.

As most venues closed due to the pandemic, leaders decided to move courses online so they could continue providing learning support. The result has been more people than ever signing up to take courses online, as many people find it easier to access them that way rather than attend a venue.

Now organisers are considering which courses to continue online and which to host in community venues.

The service aims to help learners of different ages and backgrounds reconnect with learning, gain new knowledge and skills, and progress to further learning, employment or volunteering. 

Ofsted recently completed an interim visit report and noted that managers were nurturing partnerships: "One of these new partnerships is giving people who face significant challenges in getting a job the chance to develop their confidence and resilience. They do this by learning new job-related skills at a time when they cannot take part in work experience. Leaders have also introduced courses for parents to help their children with schoolwork.

"Learners report that the courses include a range of teaching methods, including regular assessment of their knowledge and understanding. Teachers tailor their courses to learners' needs by finding out what learners already know, and any difficulties they face, before the course starts. They have also changed the curriculum for some courses in light of changes caused by the pandemic. For example, a course that helps learners develop the skills they need for interviews now focuses on the skills learners need to apply for jobs and attend interviews online."

The report also notes leaders have supported those learning who do not have computer equipment by lending them a digital tablet or providing access to the internet so they can attend online courses. 

A new initiative due to launch in 2021 will be taking a mobile classroom to a travellers' site and another is to help people with disabilities live more independently.

Tutors have increased the time they spend talking with learners individually to check on their wellbeing and to find out if they need any additional support. As a result of these calls, they have referred some learners to other forms of support provided by Wiltshire Council and to agencies such as food banks. 

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills said: "Congratulations to our Family and Community Learning team for turning the challenge of the pandemic into an opportunity to reach out to more people who will benefit from training and support. 

"The future is exciting for this team and I know they will continue to make a real difference in the lives of so many people who need that additional help to get back on track or that boost of confidence."

Recently Wiltshire mum Hannah Wilkins achieved the Patrons Award from HRH The Princess Royal for her commitment to learning. Hannah took part in a number of courses with Family and Community Learning to help achieve her goal of becoming an outreach worker. Hannah was nominated alongside fellow learner Monika Bednarz. 

There is more information on courses and opportunities with Wiltshire family and community learning.

People can read the full Ofsted report on Ofsted: The Wiltshire Council URN: 50245 (Category: Adult and Community Learning) (opens new window) - 17 November 2020 'Monitoring visit'. 

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