Adult learning strategy 2022 to 2027

The Adult Learning Strategy sets out our actions to improve life chances for adult learners across Scotland. It outlines how we will ensure that there are accessible opportunities for adults to learn throughout their lives.

The National Performance Framework and Understanding the Impact of Community-Based Adult Learning

The National Performance Framework

The National Performance Framework sets out a vision of national wellbeing for Scotland and charts progress towards this through a range of social, environmental and economic outcomes which are measured by indicators. Our vision that adult learning in Scotland will develop better-skilled, educated, confident and empowered people contributing to connected and inclusive communities reflects our values as a nation and the aspirations we hold for our future. Central to the National Performance Framework, and our strategic action plan, are the aims to create a more successful country, give opportunities to all people living in Scotland, and reduce inequalities.

There are four outcomes in particular within the National Performance Framework that are fundamental to our ambition to create new and increased positive pathways in collaboration with adult learners. These focus on education, tackling poverty, health and the importance of inclusive communities.

  • We are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society.
  • We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally.
  • We are healthy and active.
  • We live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe.

Our Purpose

To focus on creating a more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through increased wellbeing, and sustainable and inclusive economic growth

Our Values

We are a society which treats all our people with kindness, dignity and compassion, respects the rule of law, and acts in an open and transparent way

National Outcomes

  • Children and Young People: We grow up loved, safe and respected so that we realise our full potential
  • Communities: We live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe
  • Culture: We are creative and our vibrant and diverse cultures are expressed and enjoyed widely
  • Economy: We have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy
  • Education: We are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society
  • Environment: We value, enjoy, protect and enhance our environment
  • Fair Work and Business:We have thriving and innovative businesses, with quality jobs and fair work for everyone
  • Health: We are healthy and active
  • Human Rights: We respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination
  • International: We are open, connected and make a positive contribution internationally
  • Poverty: We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally

Understanding the Impact of Community-Based Adult Learning

In support of the national performance outcomes, we recognise that community-based adult learning improves much more than educational outcomes for those who participate. Learning that starts in the community contributes to a range of positive outcomes for the learner, their family and their wider community.

We have heard from adult learners across Scotland. They have told us about their journeys into or back into learning. Regardless of what they are learning, their motivation has been based on making a positive change in in their lives, whether that is improved physical or mental health, to be able to better support their family, to improve their employability or career prospects, or to connect with others in their community. They have told us how adult learning has empowered them and built their confidence. They described how adult learning has been a transformative experience for them.

"It's not just the subjects being taught, it's the effect the process of learning has on my mental health."

Learner - Community-based adult learner

Demonstrating and Communicating Impact

Despite learners, partners and practitioners being able to describe the contribution of community-based adult learning in Scotland, there is currently no consistent way of measuring its impact. This prevents a collective understanding of the value that it adds to a number of policy areas. Providers tell us that communicating the value of adult learning to stakeholders, partners, funders and key decision makers would encourage more collaborative working which would benefit learners.

We will develop coherent and consistent data and measurements for the impact of community-based adult learning based on methods being used across Scotland.

We will increase cross policy support for the role of community-based based adult learning in improving outcomes across policy areas including education, employability, health, social isolation, poverty reduction and justice.

The potential benefits of learning in a community setting are less widely understood and recognised than mainstream education. Throughout the development of this strategy we have heard that the lack of understanding of the benefits of adult learning impacts on the resources available to support adult learners.

Community-based adult learning should be valued as part of the wider education system and as complementary to other options and, as such, should be given equal status and stability in its funding. When discussing funding, people said that flexible funding that allowed vulnerable communities to access learning and empowering learners to determine their own learning was essential.

The need for greater understanding of the benefits of community-based adult learning can also impact on uptake of learning opportunities. Adult learners told us that they are not often aware of the learning opportunities that are available to them. We want to remove this barrier and promote the wide benefits that are achieved through community-based adult learning to adults.

We will evaluate the suitability and levels of funding arrangements for adult learning, assessing how these arrangements identify and meet demand, support progression, and how adult learners are included in decision making processes.

We will increase public awareness of adult learning opportunities, guidance and support nationally and locally through joined up and accessible messaging.

Raising Attainment Through Family Learning

Family learning has an impact on the whole family. It encourages families to learn together and activities can be designed to help adults learn how to support their children's learning. Adults supporting their children's learning can help impact on raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap. We want to make sure that there are more opportunities for family learning.

We will increase availability of, access to, and support for family learning.

Reviewing The Impact of ESOL and Literacies

Welcoming Our Learners: Scotland's ESOL Strategy 2015-2020 was developed to ensure that all Scottish residents for whom English is not a first language have the opportunity to access high-quality English language provision so that they can acquire the language skills to enable them to participate in Scottish life.

Adult Literacies in Scotland 2020 set out that by 2020 Scotland's society and economy will be stronger because more of its adults are able to read, write and use numbers effectively in order to handle information, communicate with others, express ideas and opinions, make decisions and solve problems, as family members, workers, citizens and lifelong learners.

In the development of this new Adult Learning Strategy there is an opportunity to focus on the needs of ESOL and literacies learners in a wider context by reviewing the impact of both these strategies.

We will undertake a review, with learners and practitioners, on the impact of 'Welcoming Our Learners: Scotland's ESOL Strategy 2015-2020' and 'Adult Literacies in Scotland 2020' to produce recommendations on next steps for these specialisms within the context of the adult learning strategy.

"Learning does these things: it gets me out of the house, it's good for my mental health, it's good for my brain, I meet new people, I increase my social circle, it improves employment opportunities and generally gives me better mental wellbeing."

Learner - English for Speakers of Other Languages Learner

Case study on the impact of community-based adult learning

"Just under three years ago I was introduced to a Family Learning CLD Worker who would help me take back control of not just my emotional self but my life too. My emotional state of mind was having a negative effect on my young daughter and we are eternally grateful to her. She told me about a course that I was a perfect candidate for. She then introduced me to an Adult Learning CLD Worker, who would show me the way forward on the 'Steps to Excellence' course. This was the make or break choice for me that would change the course of my life. I have to say here that my initial reaction was I don't want to do it, but felt compelled to as I don't like to let anyone down. Since then I haven't looked back.

To say I am a different person is an understatement. Although adopting a new thought process wasn't the easiest thing I've ever had to do, it certainly is the best. Through the steps course I became interested in metaphysics, which is the mind-body-spirit connection, and from there was born a deep-seated want to learn. Later that year I became temporarily employed. While there, I realized this was not where I wanted to be, there was something more awaiting me. I decided to go for a complete change in my working life but had no idea of what I wanted to do. The thought of college had been going around my head for some time and I felt I was ready to go back to full-time education to find out just what I was capable of.

I have excelled in achieving what I set out to do. I now know through all that has happened since attending CLD classes what direction I want my life to go in.

I would love to help others in similar situations to mine, to understand and accept there is indeed more to them than they could ever imagine.

I never thought during that very anxious and turbulent time I would be where I am today. My daughter has made huge progress in learning how to deal with her emotions too and I am in a position of knowing how to help her by what I've learned through 'Understanding Your Child's Behaviour', and 'Solihull' courses and the homework club at the school. All of this through Community Learning and Development with the two most inspirational women I have ever met to guide and support me. It isn't just what I've learned that has made the biggest difference; it's what learning has given me, a deep sense of worth, making my confidence soar. This is what was lacking for so long and I now know the sky is most definitely the limit. I can, I will, I am."

Adult Learner



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