Headlines: September 17th, 2008

Education inspectors say projects run under the Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities scheme are bringing communities together and boosting educational, training and job opportunities for people who are most in need. A report published today by Ofsted finds that two-thirds of adult learning providers that it surveyed have established strong links with local organisations to ensure the project funding is meeting a diverse range of needs.

The survey, ‘The role of adult learning in community renewal: Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities programmes’, reveals that most providers are highly effective in engaging with specific, targeted groups including people with disabilities, lone parents, minority ethnic groups and young offenders.

Ofsted reports that three quarters of providers in the survey said that learners gained qualifications and moved on to other forms of learning. Most of them were able to develop good communication and presentation skills and often they became involved in local projects and events.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said projects funded by Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities could be in engaging hard to reach learners. “It’s encouraging to see that most providers are using the funding well, and establishing strong partnerships with local organisations to contribute positively to community regeneration, and better prepare residents with skills for employment.”

It was critically important, she said, to keep sight of the bigger picture and while employability skills had a positive impact on community regeneration and renewal, providers should not narrow their focus too much. The report is recommending that the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Learning and Skills Council should monitor the targeting of provision to ensure that funding is reaching people from the most deprived communities in England. They’re also being urged to review funding for the scheme to include a longer term, structured and integrated view of neighbourhood renewal.