Adult community learning partnerships show strong commitment to provide learning for hard-to-reach learners

Adult community learning (ACL) partnerships have shown a strong commitment to provide learning for adults in Wales, according to a report published today by Estyn.

Estyn’s report, ‘Adult Community Learning in Wales’, found that even though there have been reductions in funding, the 15 partnerships responsible for ACL continue to meet a broad range of learning and wellbeing needs.

Meilyr Rowlands, Chief Inspector, says:

“Adult community learning plays an important role in the lives of learners aged over 25, particularly those with low employability skills, and also in the wellbeing of those aged over 65. The priority for adult community learning partnerships is to tackle poverty by helping people with low skills to become more employable.  Adult community learning partnerships have shown a strong commitment to providing for the people whose need is the greatest.”

Most ACL partnerships have proved themselves to be resilient and resourceful and have found innovative ways to continue to provide courses. Examples of this include partnerships delivering courses for funded organisations like Communities First, in ‘one-stop’ venues, such as libraries. However, the lack of subsidies available for leisure courses, such as arts and crafts, has led to unequal access to adult learning. Some leisure courses continue on a full-cost recovery basis, but are then less accessible to lower-income learners who may not be able to afford the course fees. For older people particularly, a lack of leisure classes means a loss of valuable opportunities to socialise and keep minds and bodies healthy.

The report found that one in ten adults who undertake and complete a course in basic literacy or numeracy, ICT or English for speakers of other languages, do not attempt or may not be successful in the associated qualification. This is because many adult learners have other commitments in their lives which may prevent them from taking the qualification, such as working shifts or caring for relatives.  

The report also contains recommendations for ACL partnerships and Welsh Government. ACL partnerships should continue to assure the quality of the teaching and learning to provide adult learners with value for money. The Welsh Government should also review its policy and funding strategy for the ACL sector.

Notes to Editors:

About the report

  • Estyn’s report ‘Adult Community Learning in Wales’ was commissioned by the Welsh  Assembly Government and is available in full at
  • The Welsh Government commissioned an external review of adult community learning in Wales to help inform future policy development. This was published on 21 October 2016 and can be found at: 
  • The findings and recommendations in this report draw on evidence from meetings with strategic and operational leaders from all the adult community learning partnerships in Wales, with senior leaders from the WEA/YMCA Cymru, and with the Welsh Government, as well as scrutiny of verified outcome data, service delivery plans, curriculum files and other relevant documents.

Publication date

Wednesday, 23 November, 2016