A Swindon Borough Council service that improves the employability of adults in Swindon by boosting their educational achievements and skills has been rated as ‘good’ in an Ofsted inspection.
The rating for the Adult Community Learning service improves on the rating of ‘satisfactory’ given at the last Ofsted inspection in January 2011.
The service supports one of Swindon Borough Council’s main priorities, to have people with the right skills in the right places. It targets people with low skills, especially those on lower incomes, to improve the skills they need to help them gain work. The programmes help improve the confidence and self-esteem of those who attend its courses.
The Adult Community Learning service is managed by Swindon Borough Council but is delivered by a range of partner organisations, such as colleges. Last year it ran almost 300 courses of three to six weeks’ duration, on a wide variety of subjects, in over 60 venues across the borough.
In 2012-13 it had more than 2700 individual learners, 93% of whom achieved their learning target, 6% above the national average of 87%.
In giving its ‘good’ rating Ofsted praised the fact that the vast majority of learners attain their course goals and learning aims, and this has risen year on year for the past three years. Many go on to further learning or into employment or volunteering.
They also singled out the quality of teaching and assessment, the work of the tutors, and the leadership, management and governance of the programme by council staff and elected members.
In order to gain the top ‘outstanding’ rating, Ofsted advised the service to improve its information on the next steps that learners take once they complete their course, and make further improvements to the advice given to learners on their future options. It also recommended improvements to sharing ‘best practice’ among the partner providers.
Councillor Fionuala Foley, Swindon Borough Council Cabinet member for Children’s Services, which includes lifelong learning, said: “This is a very pleasing result and I would like to thank the team within the council who have helped make it happen. It was one of the key aims identified last year to improve the service to achieve a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted.
“It is vital that we reach adults who haven’t achieved their full potential, and encourage and help them gain new skills and qualifications. The difference this can make to those individuals, and their families, is hard to overstate.
“It helps them see that there are opportunities, both in employment and in life in general that they perhaps thought were closed to them. It also makes the population of Swindon more employable, which is vital for the town’s economy and prosperity.”