by Rory Sheehan
A REPORT has been published monitoring the provision of part Welsh Government funded adult learning in the community across Wrexham and Flintshire.
Earlier this year, the North East Wales Adult Community Learning Partnership was assessed by Estyn, the education and training inspectorate.
More than 2,000 people in Wrexham and Flintshire enrolled on its community adult learning courses in 2021-22.
Estyn found that learners are offered good opportunities to re-engage with education, develop skills and job prospects – but more could be done to improve Welsh language opportunities according to its report.
The partnership was established in April 2021 as a collaboration between Flintshire Council and Wrexham Council, and employs five lead providers to deliver most of its Welsh Government-funded provision;
Aura Leisure and Libraries (employability courses in Flintshire)
Caia Park Partnership (employability courses in Wrexham)
Coleg Cambria (essential skills in Wrexham)
Deeside Community Trust (engagement courses in Flintshire)
Groundwork North Wales (essential skills in Flintshire)
In addition there are other partners including Adult Learning Wales, Coleg Cambria adult skills core provision, the Department for Work and Pensions, Communities for Work, voluntary sector organisations and other providers for health and wellbeing support.
The report states that the partnerships’ courses help with basic skills and wellbeing.
It said: “The newly established North East Wales Adult Community Learning Partnership is well led and has strong support from both local authorities in delivering provision for adults in the community across Flintshire and Wrexham.
“Leaders set very high aspirations for the partnership, the providers and for learners. The vision for the partnership is ambitious and reflects Welsh Government policies for community learning.
“There is a good balance and useful range of courses for adults who want to become re-engaged with education, to improve their job prospects, upgrade their English language skills (English for speakers of other languages), develop their literacy, numeracy or digital skills or improve their health and well-being.
“There is also a small but growing family learning provision, where parents and their children play and learn together, for example through learning the heritage skills of wool felting, at the children’s schools.”
But the report adds: “The partnership’s bilingual and Welsh-medium provision for learners is underdeveloped.
“The partnership currently has no provision offered bilingually or through the medium of Welsh.
“As a result, no learners study or take part in programmes bilingually or through the medium of Welsh and most learners do not develop their Welsh language skills significantly.”
But the partnerships’ impact on the wellbeing of learners emerging from the pandemic has been highlighted as a strong positive by the report.
It states: “As a result of the impact of the pandemic, the partnership reports higher numbers of learners with anxiety, low confidence, and wellbeing concerns.
“Many learners across the partnership report that their mental health has improved significantly through their learning and that they have overcome initial anxieties such as attending face-to-face sessions and meeting new people.
“Most learners enjoy the social interaction of their learning experiences such as meeting people and making friends after prolonged periods of isolation.
“Learners from a few courses have arranged their own clubs and groups where they meet outside of their classes to support each other through difficult times in their lives. Learners with additional learning needs (ALN) have used their learning experiences to become more independent and socially confident.”
The report adds: “The partnership uses non-accredited short courses well to attract hard-to-reach learners who are less confident about entering or re-entering education.
“These courses often focus appropriately, for example, on health and well-being while embedding literacy, numeracy and digital skills within the content.”
The report can be read in full on Estyn’s website. It’s recommendations to the partnership for the future are to;
Increase opportunities for adult learning in the community bilingually and through the medium of Welsh.
Track, monitor and evaluate learners’ long-term progress through the partnership’s provision.
Develop a partnership approach to self-evaluation and improvement of learning and teaching across all the partnership’s provision.
Improve opportunities for learners to receive advice and guidance about joining the partnership’s provision.
The partnership will draw up an action plan to address the recommendations from the inspection.
Estyn will invite the partnership to prepare two case studies on its work in relation to family learning and establishing a new ALC partnership, to be published on Estyn’s website.