Cornwall Council’s adult education service has been rated ‘good’ by the government’s education watchdog Ofsted.

It was praised for creating an “inclusive environment that fosters high levels of respect” leaving learners feeling “welcomed and valued, enabling them to learn effectively and gain self-confidence”.

Community courses were made accessible to people living in areas of deprivation and “help bring people together in their communities and reduce social isolation”.

Cornwall Adult Education was also commended for helping people into work, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Ofsted also pointed out what Cornwall Council needed to improve upon. In its report, Ofsted said improvements needed to be made by: 

  • Plan the content of the curriculum for individual learners with high needs, considering their EHC plans and the specific targets they need to work towards.
  • "Develop quality assurance activities to ensure they identify all weaknesses and target specific actions for improvement, including in subcontracted provision.
  • Develop tutors’ teaching skills and knowledge of strategies to support learners with additional learning needs.
  • Ensure all staff have sufficient knowledge of the ‘Prevent’ duty, and feel confident to teach about this

The full report is available to read on the Ofsted website.

Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, Cabinet Member for Children and Families and Learning and Skills, said: "Cornwall Adult Education is a brilliant service, and everyone should be extremely proud of the results of the Inspection.

"Adult education is so much more than a chance to learn a new hobby, it is also an opportunity to learn basic skills such as literacy and numeracy, and to increase job opportunities by learning about computer skills, book-keeping and other important work-related skills.

“Adult education is at the heart of ‘lifelong learning’ and a core component of one of the council’s four priorities to achieve a ‘thriving, sustainable Cornwall’.”

The council provides education and training through its ‘Link into Learning’ sites and Adult Education Centres, of which there are 17 across Cornwall.

They cater for adults and young learners aged 16 to 18, offering study courses that lead to accredited qualifications. Most study ‘Skills for Life’ courses that include basic skills in maths, English, information and communication technology (ICT) and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL).

People can also take ‘non-qualification’ community courses, such as arts and languages, including Cornish.

Around 1,600 adult learners and 60 learners aged 16 to 18 enrol each year.

Dr Andrew Upton, Chair of the Adult Education Board of Governors, said: "Cornwall Adult Education was judged in the September 2023 Ofsted inspection to have good overall effectiveness in its provision to adult and young learners.

"With all of the individual inspection judgements such as the quality of education and management of the service also being judged good, and the arrangements for safeguarding being judged as effective this was a positive affirmation of adult education.

“This is down to the dedication, hard work and care of the staff. The governors give our heartfelt thanks to the staff in the support they give to each and every learner. Adult Education is an important lifeline to help individuals develop personally and achieve their goals.”

Rob Sweetzer-Sturt, Head of Adult Education at Cornwall Council, said: "There is always room to improve and we will not be complacent going forwards, but overall I am really pleased with the outcome of the inspection. The team works incredibly hard to deliver the best service and best possible outcomes to all our learners and it is great that they have received recognition for this.”

Rob said his team was heartened by one finding by Ofsted which praised the strong, positive relationships that tutors had with learners, boosting resilience, independence and confidence.

“We were particularly proud of this comment because Ofsted described us in the same way that we would describe out own aspirations,” he added.