Report on Review of Informal Adult and Community Learning

Last year the government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills asked the National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education, (NIACE) to run a consultation on informal adult and community learning. It was part of a wider consultation about further education and ran from August to October 2011.

Martin Sundram and Tony Baker from the WEA were members of a reference group who advised on the process and many others from the WEA responded to the consultation as individuals or in groups.

All the responses have been analysed and NIACE reports that 6,306 individuals and 227 groups from a variety of backgrounds across England responded to the consultation.

In summary, they said that:

• people want to learn a wide range of different topics and most prefer to learn in a class with a paid tutor;

• most people who can afford to pay are willing to pay fees if they think they are fair and affordable;

• most people agree with using fees to cross-subsidise learning, so that people with higher incomes pay more and those with low incomes pay low fees or nothing;

• over a quarter of people who replied are keen to help organise learning activities in their local area or workplace or to get involved as learning champions; and

• most people who replied believe that local people should be involved in making decisions, but disagree with ‘tokenism’ – they want a real voice and influence in decisions about the learning in their area.

You can read a copy of the summary report on outcomes at:

The full report is available at:

An easy read summary report is available at:

The outcomes of the review are likely to influence government policy and are very relevant to the WEA as a national organisation working at local levels and embedded in communities.

About Ann Walker
Adult education and lifelong learning specialist and campaigner. LinkedIn:

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