Gillian Keegan, MP, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills joined staff and learners for her first virtual tour of adult learning. The Minister was welcomed by the Principal, Joni Cunningham, OBE and Assistant Principals, Maria Sotiriou and Nadine Wakefield. On her tour the Minister heard how the Institute was successfully keeping learners learning as courses moved to online and how well the recruitment of learners onto a new summer term programme of short online courses. The Minster also heard about the challenges faced by many adult learners who struggled with access to the internet and tablets or laptops.
The Minister talked to three of our adult learners, Andrea Ats, (GCSE English), Dilwara Khatun (L3 Diploma Children’s Workforce and currently on teacher training placement) and Luiza Paluca (L2 Teaching Assistants) about their learner journeys at the Institute. Our learners spoke confidently to the Minister about the excellent support from their tutors, balancing family commitments and the importance of having time for their own studies.
The Minister found learners’ ambition and what they have achieved since starting their learning ‘inspiring’ and that the interaction with other learners and their peer support was equally important to them as the learning programmes.
The Minister enjoyed her visit and being able to experience at first hand the vital importance of basic skills – English, maths, ESOL and digital skills and the vocational pathways which were enabling learners to progress and to fulfil their career ambitions. The virtual tour ‘really brought community learning to life’ and the Minister was keen to make a visit in person when the time was right.
Joni Cunningham thanked the Minister for her visit which staff and learners really enjoyed and said ‘the visit was a great opportunity to discuss with the Minister the importance of our many partnerships and learning projects out in the community. We were impressed by her interest in the difficulties some of our learners face in participating in learning and the progress they are making. We look forward to taking her up on her promise of visiting us again, meeting more learners and hearing their inspiring learning journeys.’