Adult & Community Learning

Informal Adult & Community Learning (IACL) is an umbrella term describing a broad range of learning that brings together adults, often of different ages and backgrounds, to pursue an interest, address a need, acquire a new skill, become healthier or learn how to support their children.

This kind of learning, usually unaccredited, is an important part of the wider learning continuum. It can be undertaken for its own sake or as a step towards other learning/training. It covers structured adult education courses taught by professionally qualified teachers, independent study on-line, and self-organised study groups.

Some learning will be in very short episodes and some may last years. It may happen in personal time or work time and be delivered by providers in the public, private or voluntary sectors, or organised by people for themselves through the many groups, clubs and societies where people get together to learn.

Common to much IACL is the way in which it contributes to increasing confidence and interest in learning which in turn encourages learners to progress to further learning opportunities.

During 2010-11, with unionlearn support, trade unions engaged with over 35,318 learners through informal adult community learning route. This included support for the following:

  • Promoting IACL at work during Learning at Work Day in Adult Learners Week.
  • Promoting IACL during the Celebration of Learning held in October 2010.

Another key player in promoting IACL are community learning champions (CLCs). These are enthusiasts who promote learning to friends, neighbours and people across their communities. ULRs are now working with community learning champions to promote learning in their neighbourhoods.

There will be information and resources posted here around IACL throughout the year.

Reaching communities - the community learning toolkit

This toolkit has been specifically developed for union learning representatives (ULRs), community learning champions (CLCs) and other learning advocates but can be used by any trade union and community representatives working to promote and support learning.

It has been developed in recognition of the wide range of benefits that can arise from trade unions and community learning champions working together, including reaching disadvantaged groups in the workplace and the local community, enhancing learning opportunities, sharing resources and approaches and learning from each other.

In the toolkit you will find information to support collaboration and the development of successful partnerships, including practical steps, ideas, inspiring case studies and resources.

"TUC surveys show that union representatives were eight times more likely than others to become active in their communities. Trade unionism is an all-embracing movement built on fairness and justice for all, so we will continue to do more to support learners in communities.

"We are working with NIACE – the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education – to develop and support 'community learning champions' and even more recently those organisations that are developing 'learning champions' and advocates in non-unionised workplaces.

"This toolkit is designed to help ULRs and other learning champions to work practically with one another to reach even more learners. I hope you find it useful."
– Tom Wilson, unionlearn.

The printed toolkit comes in the form of an A4-sized wallet with a pocket containing the main guide, the case studies booklet, and five loose sheets of resources.