Community Support Service

Denmead Community Association – Adult Learning

In Partnership with Hampshire County Council

In 2004, Hampshire County Council commenced changing it’s priorities towards adult education to bring it more in line with the Learning and Skills Council’s priorities as set out in the National Skills Strategy. This meant a change in direction with the emphasis more on leisure learning and widening participation.

The Community Support Team recognised that Community Associations were well placed within their communities to offer adult leisure learning and that they would be able to support Community associations to contribute towards this aim through their partnership funding stream.

Denmead Community association are based at the very edge of the Winchester District, bordering with Havant and East Hampshire. They exist to serve the needs of their local community and are located approximately 1 mile outside of the Village Centre.

Based on the 2001 Census, Denmead has a population of 6,188 people. Of these, 2,275 or nearly 38% of residents are aged 50 or over and many are still active. Through talking to the residents, the Association believed that the partnership funding available to them would be ideal to use towards an adult learning programme for local villagers.

The feedback that the association received from the village was that people would like to study a new language. Many were buying or had bought second homes abroad and wanted to be able to speak to the local people but did not want a formal qualification, just some basic conversation.

Learning for pleasure was born.

The most popular language choices were French and Spanish. The timing was just perfect as the Association was approached by a qualified French and Spanish Teacher who was looking to get back to work after the birth of her first child.

The Community Support Team worked with the Association to plan their project. They supported them to work out the cost of running the courses and how many students they would need to make the course viable, based on Full Cost Recovery. The Community Support Team also supported the Association in ensuring that the course tutor was appropriately qualified, that they had thought about the advertisement and all other aspects of the project.

Denmead community Association aimed to run two, twelve week courses in beginners French and Spanish conversation classes. Unfortunately, there was not enough interest in Spanish for this course to go ahead, however, French was more than viable with approximately 12 people wishing to participate.

Comments from the participants included:

“ I was amazed at how quickly my school girl French came back to me.”

“ I really enjoyed myself and have learnt so much.”

“ This has been really useful and so much fun.”

At the end of the course, participants decided that they would like to continue the classes. The tutor was happy to give some extra tuition, therefore, the group decided to continue to meet informally to go through what they had been learning and to further improve their conversation skills.

This course has had a very positive impact on the people of Denmead and was just the start of a whole learning for pleasure portfolio. Other courses have included “computing for the bewildered” and starting in March 2010, they are planning to run a short course on the philosophy of medical ethics.

Denmead Community Association are now recognised as the place to go for informal learning within the Village and the Community Support Team has worked in partnership with them to ensure that the County Council priorities of

  • Increased participation of older people through positive activities and
  • Increased access to information through ICT

Have been met, as well as the Hampshire Learning Strategic objectives of:

  • Support the departments of Hampshire County Council and the Voluntary and Community sectors to develop as providers and supporters of adult and family learning.
  • Maintain a culture of continuous quality improvement.