Inspectors praise turnaround in Norfolk’s community learning service

Woodwork classes are among the courses offered by the community learning service.

Woodwork classes are among the courses offered by the community learning service. - Credit: Archant

Inspectors have praised a turnaround which has seen Norfolk's adult education service go from being rated 'inadequate' to 'good' in just over a year.

There were warnings, following the critical inspection in January last year, that the Norfolk County Council service could be closed unless it improved.

Some tutors quit after Ofsted inspectors branded the service inadequate and the Education Funding Agency also ended its contract for the 16-19 study programme, which closed at the end of 2014-15.

But following a fresh inspection, the watchdog now says the issues have been tackled. They said: 'Leaders and managers have dealt quickly and very effectively with key issues identified at the previous inspection'.

The county council rebranded adult education and brought in Helen Wetherall as interim head of the newly-named Norfolk Community Learning Services.

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She said: 'This is a fantastic outcome brought about by a mammoth team effort. As a council we made the commitment last summer that we would work towards an Ofsted 'good' outcome, missing out a 'requires improvement'.

'In one jump and over a year this was a very tall order but with everyone working together it has been achieved. Our ambition does not stop here – our next goal is to be an 'Outstanding' service and we will be working closely with our learners, partners, governors and staff to achieve this.'

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The community learning services offered include: apprenticeships; classes such as creative writing, photography, woodwork and sculpture; foreign languages; exercises such as yoga and basketball and maths and English classes.

Richard Bearman, chairman of the service's steering group said: 'This is such a well-deserved achievement. The transformation has involved a lot of hard work and dedication from staff and I am truly delighted by this result.'

Wensum Lodge is the hub of the courses in Norwich and a week-long community learning services event will begin there on Monday, May 30.

• What do you think of the service? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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