NIACE analyses evidence for Government

7 April 2011

NIACE is examining evidence to assess the social and economic impact and value for money of Informal Adult and Community Learning, on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The assessment will contribute to the process of reforming and reinvigorating Informal Adult and Community Learning that BIS is currently undertaking.

NIACE has invited contributions of both past and current activity, as well as examples of proven methodologies that demonstrate impact. In order to ensure that a wide range of voices from the Informal Adult and Community Learning sector were heard, NIACE invited contributions from anyone with evidence of the impact of adult learning to contribute.

Submissions are being analysed and summarised for BIS and will be used to inform a policy paper on the future of Informal Adult and Community Learning.

Jane Ward, NIACE Senior Programme Manager, said:

“At a time when public spending is under increasing scrutiny it is really important that we collect robust evidence that proves the value of informal adult learning for individuals and wider society. We are also interested in learning about different methods that will assist the government, funding agencies and providers to build up a solid evidence base.”

The definition of Informal Adult and Community Learning developed by BIS is as follows:

  • Informal Adult and Community Learning 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 online, 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, voluntary or private sectors, or organised by people for themselves through the many groups, clubs and societies where people get together to learn.