Thursday, 5 January 2012

Adult learning in Reading good and improving

Congratulations to the staff and volunteers who make New Directions so special.

One of my roles as lead councillor for Housing and Neighbourhoods is to sit on the council's life long learning board along with fellow cabinet member John Ennis.  The board oversees the work of the New Directions, which is the adult learning provider in Reading.

The staff, students and volunteers at New Directions have been working very hard to ensure that we have a service that meets the needs of learners and the community.  We're really pleased to now be able to make the recent Ofsted report public, which rates New Directions as good and improving.

The council has issued a press release below:

New Directions - Reading's adult education provider   has been rated as 'good' in an Ofsted inspection published today (Jan 5).

Overall effectiveness was rated as good by Ofsted and capacity to improve was also rated as good. Inspectors were also impressed with the progress made at New Directions in addressing areas listed for improvement during its previous full inspection in 2009.

The Ofsted report   published today and available on the Ofsted website   states: 'New Directions has good provision. Most learners on courses leading to qualifications achieve well&..They make good gains in their skills and confidence.'

It goes on the say: 'Teaching and learning are good. The majority of lessons observed were good or better.'

Inspectors wrote: 'New Directions meets the needs of learners and the broader community very well. Partnership working is excellent, involving a wide variety of organisations. It is successful in identifying and engaging the most disadvantaged learners and good practice is shared very well. There is a wide range of provision with good opportunities for progression.'

Main findings include:

" A significant improvement of success rates on courses leading to qualifications over the past year
" Enthusiastic and highly motivated learners who enjoy their courses
" Lessons are well planned and assessment is good
" A good range of courses on offer which meets the needs of learners well
" Good care guidance and support
" Excellent partnership work with highly effective leadership and planning for the future. 

 Reflecting on improvements made since the last inspection they wrote: 'New Directions has made significant and well-managed improvements to the delivery of the provision. The senior management team has a clear vision for future improvement and well developed plans to improve the provision further.'

Future improvements outlined by inspectors were to ensure learners had clear and personalised learning targets and information on self assessment forms is better utilised.

John Ennis, Reading's Lead Councillor for Education and Children's Services, said: 'At a time of economic difficulties adult learning becomes an ever more important service. It is heartening to see the significant improvements made over the past year and even more pleasing that inspectors have recognised the tremendous effort that has gone into making those improvements. My congratulations to everyone involved.'

New Directions offers a wide range of both accredited and non-accredited learning. The main provision includes ICT, arts, media and publishing, languages, literature and culture, preparation for life and family learning.

New Directions is part of Reading Borough Council's Education and Children's Services and is funded by the Skills Funding Agency. It provides adult education in three Reading Borough Council owned centres and at a range of accessible community venues right across the Borough.