Adult learning strategy: equality impact assessment

Equality impact assessment (EQIA) for the adult learning strategy.

3. Scope of the EQIA

The scope of this EQIA is to consider the impact of the Adult Learning Strategy on people with protected characteristics. The Adult Learning Strategy has the potential to impact on all people in Scotland aged 16 and above. In order to determine the impact, a desk based review of evidence was initially undertaken. This took into account a variety of statistical surveys, reports and other publications including:

  • Scotland's Labour Market: People, Places and Regions [2]
  • National Indicator Performance [3]
  • Report on Widening Access 2019-20 [4]
  • HE Students and Qualifiers at Scottish Institutions 2019-20 [5]
  • Scottish Household Survey 2019 [6]
  • Scottish Health Survey 2019 [7]
  • Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People [8]
  • Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland 2017-20 [9]

In the context of national statistics, existing evidence for what activity was taking place in relation specifically to community based adult learning was limited. In ensuring that the development of an adult learning strategy was approached with fairness, further evidence was required to ascertain how the strategy could impact on each of the protected characteristics and how the strategy could achieve its aim of removing barriers to learning.

Consultation on the strategy began in May 2019 at the Adult Learning Conference where adult learning practitioners across Scotland and national organisations were asked for their views on themes established by the Adult Learning Strategic Forum for Scotland and for their ideas on what the strategy could focus on. Thematic workshops on how each theme should be presented and progressed within the new strategy took place between October to November 2019. Feedback was sought from adult learners across Scotland alongside the delivery of the thematic workshops. Adult learners were asked what they hoped to achieve in their learning, what barriers they faced and what their progression goals were. Feedback from the thematic workshops and adult learners were synthesised and presented to the Adult Learning Strategic Forum in December 2019. A series of engagement events were planned for further consultation, however, most of these were cancelled due to the pandemic and work on the strategy was paused throughout most of 2020. Work was resumed in early 2021 and two online consultations were delivered.

The findings of all consultation exercises were used to develop a consultation draft of the Adult Learning Strategy for Scotland which was circulated to members of the Adult Learning Strategic Forum for Scotland for feedback in May 2021.

Discussions with stakeholders provided anecdotal evidence that Scotland's adult learners have been impacted considerably by the pandemic in many ways, including their mental health, increased isolation and disruption to learning. Evidence also shows that the pandemic has produced disproportionate impacts for a number of groups, including older people, disabled people, minority ethnic groups and women[10]. To identify the impact that the strategy may have on the protected characteristics as a result of the pandemic, a further review of evidence was undertaken. This took into account a variety of publications including:

  • COVID-19 and Disabled People in Scotland - Health, Social and Economic Harms [11]
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): impact on equality [12]
  • If not now, when? - Social Renewal Advisory Board report: January 2021[13]
  • Supercharged: A Human Catastrophe [14]
  • Scotland's Wellbeing: The Impact of COVID 19 [15]



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