How nearly 3,000 adults in Norfolk did not let lockdown stop them learning

Amanda Brown, who has been doing online learning during lockdown. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Amanda Brown, who has been doing online learning during lockdown. Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Almost 3,000 people in Norfolk have not let lockdown prevent them from furthering their education - crediting online adult learning with boosting their wellbeing while stuck indoors.

Within two weeks of lockdown starting in March, Norfolk County Council made sure all of its 1,257 learners were switched from classrooms to online classes. And there are now 2,935 people learning online.

And Norfolk business bosses said it was essential people had been able to learn and develop new skills, despite normal life coming to a halt because of coronavirus.

One of those taking part in online learning is Amanda Brown, 53, from Costessey.

She has been fitting her online Functional Skills English Level 2 studies around being a key worker and volunteering in her local community, helping people with their shopping and prescriptions.

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She said: “It’s amazing how quickly things have changed in learning and to adapting to cope with everything, really.

“It gives you a sense of normality as well, you’ve got things to do at a regular time. You know we are all in the same position and it does make a difference, like keeping in touch with your regular groups.”

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During lockdown, the adult learning service has supported 126 apprentices to continue learning online, sent grades for approval to the awarding bodies for 99 adult GCSE learners and 430 functional skills learners and held virtual coffee mornings to stop people being isolated.

Margaret Dewsbury, cabinet member for communities at the county council, said: “This just shows what can be achieved and how, by improving the digital skills of people across Norfolk, we have been able to enrich their skills and wellbeing, through adult learning.”

Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise partnership, said: “Adult education is more focused than ever on the needs of our economy and it is essential people continue to have the opportunity to learn and develop news skills online.

“As well as increasing people’s employability and teaching the skills required by our growing sectors, the digital provision of these courses has improved wellbeing and provided a sense of connection during a period of isolation.”

Case study: “I do feel really proud of how far I have come”

“I do feel really proud of how far I have come. When I first started maths I felt like there was no hope for me, but now I enjoy it and feel I have progressed so much.”

Abbie King, 25, from Dereham, has overcome doubt to build her confidence, while studying Functional Skills English and Maths.

She said: “Doing the courses has made me so much more confident, before I first attended the class, I was very shy and I wouldn’t answer questions. Now I don’t feel that way at all, I just speak freely, and I look forward to my lessons.”

She said having the routine of lessons had helped her wellbeing during the coronavirus lockdown.

She said: “I have enjoyed doing the course during lockdown as it has given me something to focus on and helped with a routine. It has also given me the chance to connect with other people when I have been social distancing.”

Her long-term plan is to attend university.

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