8th Jun 2012
Pilot programme for adult learners delivers big results
The Learner Access Engagement pilot programme has delivered around 3,000 qualifications to some of Northern Ireland's hardest to reach adults who would otherwise have slipped through the educational net, a new report claims.
The findings were delivered through an evaluation report into the pilot programme announced by Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry.
The LEA aims to encourage the 'hardest-to-reach' adults to re-enter learning by providing tailored mentoring and support, and in the longer term widening access to mainstream further education (FE).
Dr Farry said: "This report is a testament to the success of the LAE pilot programme. There have been over 6,600 enrolments since January 2009 with almost half from the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland.
"This programme is unique in the further education sector, providing opportunities for Learning Support Providers (LSPs) which are mainly voluntary and community groups, to provide learner support through a contractual arrangement with our FE colleges."
The evaluation shows that:
- The LAE programme has been successful at engaging hard to reach individuals. The pilot programme attracted almost one half of enrolments (46%) from the 20% most deprived areas of Northern Ireland.
- Over 95% of learners surveyed during the evaluation stated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with college tutors.
- Colleges and LSPs reported that the programme had successfully raised the profile of local colleges and that colleges now had access to learners who would not have otherwise been reached.
- Colleges and LSPs were in agreement that the mentoring aspect of the programme played a key role in recruiting, retaining and enabling learners to achieve.
- The programme has encouraged learners to plan for their future – the majority of learners surveyed indicated that they planned to enrol on another course or apply for employment.
Hard to reach groups such as single parents and the long term unemployed were offered an additional layer of support that would not have been otherwise available. Few, if any, learners from disadvantaged areas would have engaged with other programmes.
The Minister concluded: "There is no doubt that the LAE programme can play a key role in creating learning opportunities for the hardest-to-reach. Over the course of the pilot, learners gained 3,000 qualifications and I am committed to the development of a mainstream programme based upon the evaluation findings to commence in the 2012/13 academic year."