Norfolk bucks trend as more sign up to adult learning

Sophie Ackerman

Sophie Ackerman - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Norfolk has bucked the national trend during the coronavirus pandemic, with an increased number of people pursuing adult learning qualifications.

Little over five years ago, Norfolk County Council's adult learning service was branded inadequate by inspectors.

But the service has been turned around and, while the coronavirus pandemic meant participation in qualification course fell by 19pc nationally, in Norfolk it went up by 12pc.

Students also improved their scores by 3pc, bucking the national trend where achievement rates dropped by 24pc.

The service, which has its hub at Wensum Lodge in Norwich, moved all of its learning programmes - taken by 3,000 people - online by April.

Wensum Lodge. Pic: Archant.

Wensum Lodge, the hub for Norfolk County Council's adult learning service. - Credit: Archant

Councillors praised the service's success at a meeting of the council's infrastructure and development select committee on Thursday, January 29.

Denise Saadvandi, head of Norfolk County Council’s adult learning service, said: "We’d like to pay tribute to the students, tutors and staff across Norfolk who have seen their hard work and determination pay off in an unsettling year.

“Much of our success can be put down to our team’s adaptability when the first lockdown came in.

"Our courses had to move online as 98pc of our teaching was based in classrooms but, by April, we had gone fully digital.”

Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of communities, Norfolk County Council, has said a grant worth almost £1

Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for communities and partnerships. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

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Margaret Dewsbury, cabinet member for communities and partnerships at the council, said: "The pandemic has shown Norfolk’s residents to be uniquely resilient in incredibly testing times."

Case Study

Sophie Ackerman

Sophie Ackerman - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Sophie Ackerman has been studying for a level 3 Association of Accounting Technicians accountancy qualification as part of her apprenticeship with Norfolk County Council.

She said: “I studied history at university and this apprenticeship has allowed me to actually have a career in Finance.

"It was perfect for me as someone who had lots of transferable skills to bring to my role, but not the qualifications or knowledge to thrive in it yet.”

When the first lockdown came in, she had to move her studies fully online, but said there had been regular video chats with her tutor.