About us

About us
What we offer

Adult Learning is a hosted service delivering learning for Westmorland & Furness council and Cumberland Council, with a wide range of courses for people at all levels and interests, both qualification and no-qualification, in a broad range of subjects (English, Maths, ESOL, Arts & Crafts, Languages, Digital, Family Learning, Employability, Greener Curriculum, Health & Wellbeing and Multiply). 

Operating an area-based model with teams based in the 6 main localities (Barrow, Eden, Kendal, Carlisle, Allerdale and Workington and surround areas) our vision is to deliver 'a service that continues to provide outstanding adult education opportunities by inspiring adults across Cumbria to improve their well-being and potential through learning and development of skills, values and behaviours'. 

The service is aimed at supporting not only the delivery of Westmorland & Furness council plan and Cumberland council plan, but also supports key priorities of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) and confirmed in the Education and Skills Funding Agency Funding and Performance Rules 2022/23. 

As a service, we have set out our delivery plan to deliver against the following 4 strands: Reach out to the most vulnerable adults in the community by focusing resources on those who are socially and economically disadvantaged Work in partnership with communities to maximise access to adult learning by promoting health and wellbeing and in doing so support Cumbria communities to thrive. 

Enhance the career prospects of adults by meeting their education and training needs as well as supporting local employers to improve the English, maths, and digital skills of their workforce. 

Increase participation in adult learning by giving our choice and easy access to learning environments and curriculum.

We aim to:
  • Strengthen and sustain the people and communities of Cumbria through the power of learning

  • Provide a high quality learning experience for all learners in all locations across all subjects

  • Provide a high quality programme relevant to local interests

Quality Improvement Strategy (PDF, 298kb)

Quality Assurance Procedures (PDF, 273Kb)

We organise and deliver the majority of our provision through our Adult Learning Centres and also work with a range of specialist sub-contracted providers. Between them they have around 150 outreach locations, so there should always be a course close at hand.

The programme in each geographical area will be designed to reflect local need and priorities based around
  • High quality local partnerships

  • High quality local research, consultation / feedback

and will be delivered by subject experts with appropriate teaching skills.

Courses offered are often supported through the government grant received through the Skills Funding Agency. However, increasingly those who can pay will be expected to pay course fees.

All courses will contribute to the objectives of New Challenges, New Chances.
  • Focusing public funds on people who are disadvantaged and least likely to participate

  • Collecting fee income from those who can afford to pay and using where possible to extend provision to those who cannot

  • Widening participation and transforming people's destinies by supporting progression relevant to personal circumstances, for example - increasing confidence and willingness to learn

  • Acquiring skills preparing for training, employment, self-employment

  • Improving digital, financial literacy and communication skills

  • Improving skills as parents/carers and ability to support children's learning

  • Improving health and wellbeing

  • Developing stronger communities with more self-sufficient, connected and pro-active citizens. 

Information, Advice and Guidance

Adult Learning has a duty of care to provide potential learners with impartial information, advice and guidance. We aim to help you make informed decisions about the suitability of any study programme to meet your needs and aspirations.

IAG Policy (PDF, 233Kb)

Why is information advice and guidance important?
This plays a role in making sure that you enrol on a course that suits your need best at that point in time. It is based on looking at your individual needs and mutually agreeing the best way forward to you; we hope to be able to support you through our extensive range of courses, however, this may actually involve us advising that another provider can support you better at that point in time.
How we provide information, advice and guidance:
Information is provided on line on our website, we provide you with course information sheets that outline what will be taught on our programmes and any entry requirements.
We also produce a brochure that is posted out to all households in Cumbria, usually in August each year.
Information is also provided to learners and enquirers by members of staff either face to face or via telephone conversations. We can also ask of tutors to provide information that helps you decide which programme is best for you.
Advice from a member of staff involves the same support as that listed above under Information; it may also include appropriate questioning to gain an understanding of your circumstances that will enable us to clarify what you actually need. Advice will contribute to decision - making through suggestions on available options, or how to go about a course of action.
Guidance is the complex process of providing in-depth and personalised advice and support. Guidance involves identifying and clarifying your personal needs and exploring ideas and values in relation to study opportunities and career goals. You are encouraged to assess appropriate options and make decisions that are in your best interests.
In March 2019 Adult Learning saw its 3 year review against the Matrix Standard. The Matrix Standard is a unique quality standard for organisations, it is awarded to organisations in recognition of their ability to meet strenuous standards relating to the provision of information, advice and guidance. The Matrix standard is a really useful way to give our learners and stakeholders the security of knowing that Adult Learning takes its responsibilities for supporting learning to enroll on appropriate courses that will help them to achieve their own goals very seriously and that we strive to constantly improve our service to ensure the best outcomes for all learners. The Matrix Standard is an outcome-based standard. This means that the allocated Assessor looks not only at processes used to support IAG (Information Advice and Guidance) delivery but also the results achieved.
The audit was undertaken over a full week and involved our assigned Assessor interviewing staff, senior managers and learners across the county before making a judgment on whether our service continued to meet the standards.  Our Assessor was able to make a judgement on the effectiveness of the processes used to support IAG delivery, including the impact on our learners.  We are very pleased to advise that our accreditation was confirmed and we worked with our assessor to agree a forward plan to make further enhancements.  This plan is reviewed each year and Adult Learning is required to provide evidence of progress made. 
Adult Learning is committed to achieving the best possible outcome for each and every one of our learners; the Matrix Standard helps us to support this commitment and we are very proud of our record of success.
Extracts from our Matrix report published March 2019
"A strong focus is placed on providing quality skills and community learning programmes relevant to local needs/interests."
"Tutors recognise the importance of achieving Adult Learning performance targets but were also keen to articulate how the `softer` outcomes for learners gave them the greatest job satisfaction, to be associated with the many life changing experiences learners derive through the help, encouragement and support provided."
"The learner qualification achievement rate was above the national benchmarks for both Maths and English"
"The FE Choices learner survey indicates learner satisfaction to be 96%"
"Continued support leads to a range of planned outcomes such as progressing to Further Education (FE) or employment."
"The Corporate Management Team has made a firm commitment to support people living in Cumbria`s most deprived/disadvantaged local communities providing them with as many opportunities as possible to remove known and / or perceived barriers to learning and work"
"It has become increasingly apparent that managers and staff members take seriously the quality of the service they deliver and have always responded in a positive fashion to feedback aimed at improving the service"
Quotes from learners
"The staff have always supported me, they go out of their way and I have never had a problem with them"
"Adult Learning are more approachable, quick to respond to any concerns or problems. They are good at emailing information to everyone so we are all kept informed."