Series 3, Episode 3 of the Let’s Go Further podcast


Community learning in the form of adult education improves skills and productivity, promotes confidence, improves mental health and breaks the cycle of loneliness and isolation experienced by many.


Despite these benefits it is a part of the education sector that relies on limited state funding and charitable reserves, and whose teaching staff are not rewarded and recognised in line with their college lecturer and schoolteacher colleagues.


Speaking on episode three of the Let’s Go Further podcast, Dr Sue Pember CBE, Director of Policy and External Relationships at Holex, and Simon Parkinson, CEO and General Secretary of the Workers Educational Association, discussed the benefits and challenges of the community learning sector.


Dr Sue Pember said:

As we speak now, they [adult community education staff] will be out there in the community, working with people to improve their language skills and literacy and numeracy… You will see, in nearly every community, some sort of provision that brings people together, which increases integration and supports people’s wellbeing.


Simon Parkinson continued:

As a charitable provider, we are having to use some of our own charity reserves to hold the quality where we want it to be. And that can’t be right…. I’m desperate that we don’t go all the way back to having to do it through charitable activities.


Both Sue and Simon point out that community adult education is good value for money; offering high-quality teaching to local residents in a setting familiar to them, something that makes taking the step back into learning far less daunting.


Echoing Dr Fiona Aldridge in episode two of Let’s Go Further, and addressing policymakers and politicians directly, Sue and Simon also call for the stability and flexibility to deliver the provision they know will make the biggest impact –on individual lives and, in turn, the economy.


Simon said:

We know how to do this. So support us by giving us the confidence, freedom and space to do what we’re good at.


Sue continued:

What we have is a plea for some system stability, at least a three year window of funding, so we know where we are, and a lifelong learning strategy that brings all of the bits of government funding together… funding post 19 skills into a coherent strategy.


Episode three of the third series of Let’s Go Further will be published on Tuesday 31 October.


This third series of Let’s Go Further is focusing on adult education and is asking whether, as a nation, we are still committed to the century-old vision of adult education as being both universal and lifelong.


Let’s Go Further is a podcast that aims to challenge the way we think about skills and education. It was first launched in the autumn of 2022 with a series focused on social mobility. The second series was published in the spring of 2023 and looked at issues around equity, diversity and inclusion. To date, the podcast has had approximately 2,000 downloads.


Listen to the Let’s Go Further back catalogue here.


The Let’s Go Further podcast is produced by the Skills and Education Group in collaboration with Research Podcasts and is available wherever you receive your podcasts, including YouTube. You can follow the Skills and Education Group on LinkedIn, Twitter and via their website.


New episodes of the podcast will be published on alternate Tuesdays throughout November and into December.


For all media enquiries please contact Catherine McDonald at Popping Orange Communications.



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