South-east England - Hampshire UK: The Out There Project

Date published: 28 November 2011
Flagship initiative: European platform against poverty. New skills and jobs.
Address: Nimrod Centre, Gosport, Hampshire
Contact person: Gillian Fifield
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Why have you selected this example?

Hampshire County Council’s adult and community learning service, Hampshire Learning, works in partnership with adult learning providers across Hampshire to deliver a wide variety of learning opportunities to meet local learning needs. Hampshire Learning accesses national Skills Funding Agency funding, which primarily includes the Adult Safeguarded Learning (ASL) budget and which supports over 3,000 adult learning courses within Hampshire.

Hampshire Learning aims to deliver a curriculum that is responsive to local communities; to work in partnership with local organisations, including the voluntary sector; to prioritise learning opportunities in areas of most disadvantage; to meet national and local policy requirements; provide a clear focus to address the needs of learners, employers and communities.

An example of this approach towards broad-based delivery is the Rowner/’Out There’ project in Gosport, South Hampshire.

The Rowner/Out There Project commenced in September 2010 following the closure of a much used venue in one of the most disadvantaged areas within the Hampshire town of Gosport. The local St Vincent’s College had also successfully delivered adult learning classes under the auspices of the Rowner Project for a number of years.  A subsequent partnership between Hampshire Learning and St Vincent’s College focussed upon identifying new premises and maintaining adult learning provision for local residents.

The newly entitled ‘Out There’ Project was launched in December 2010 from a new base at the local Nimrod Community Centre.  The initiative was also supported with Big Lottery capital funding prior to the official launch of the ‘Out There’ project. Two rooms were refurbished as respective ICT learning  and discrete learning suites and new lighting was installed.. A lively programme of classes has taken shape which were designed to engage first time adult learners and other participants from within the local community many of whom experience low income, poor skills and barriers to learning.

The project addresses EU flagship initiatives; platform against poverty and agenda for new skills and jobs. By supporting progression into further education and into employment the project aims to lift learners out of poverty and to find a route into sustainable employment. The project promotes activities that provide skills enhancement, qualification, employability and community engagement and therefore meets the objectives of EU flagship initiatives.     

Hampshire Learning made ASL funding available through a formal Funding Agreement with St Vincent’s for the delivery of  learning opportunities to over 600 learners.  This funding is used to support adults who have benefited least from the education system or who may be disadvantaged in some way and provides opportunities for learners to build confidence and plan their progression into more formal learning, to gain skills and qualifications and seek employment. In addition to course funding, Learner Support funding was provided to cover childcare expenses. Many learners would not have been able to participate in the programme without such support.

There has been strong recognition that the programme of courses was meeting local needs by delivering a curriculum which ranged from computer and work skills to keep fit, hobbies and personal development courses. By providing a ‘universal’ offer, the Project Manager was aware that the centre would attract those who may not initially recognise the need for learning and skills development whom, in time, could benefit by progressing to more formal learning, acquiring new skills and preparing for the workplace.  Progression to qualification courses was recognised as one of the key benefits of developing first stage informal learning opportunities: previously non-engaged learners were able to ‘test the water’ and find out what adult learning is can offer within a local community setting and what it could provide for the future.

The Out There programme of  learning has also extended its provision from the Nimrod Centre in Gosport to other venues such as Childrens Centres and community centres, and thereby contributing to a much wider engagement and curriculum offer. The project works in collaboration with other providers thereby  avoiding duplication of services and making cost-effective plans to support learning through collaboration and joint initiatives.  

The learning provision is strategically important as it will form a key part of the Gosport/Hampshire offer for adult learners in employability and skills development: the work recognises that working with local communities and identifying residents’ needs and views on educational opportunities is an important element of engaging individuals and equipping them to meet the needs of employers in a changing employment market.  Hampshire Learning has recognised the benefits of local partnership working over several years and this project has shown how effective the sharing of resources and expertise can be.  The approach is one that Hampshire Learning is keen to explore in other areas of the county and recognises the benefits of engaging with local learners through their communities, building on existing local provision and maximising the local offer through partnership working and achieving economies of scale.

How much does this flagship initiative impact upon adult learning in your region

The Project is an exemplar of collaboration and adult learning in Hampshire and can be utilised as an approach to be adopted across other parts of the South East region. Involving a range of committed partners, the Out There project addresses flagship initiatives including the respective European platform against poverty and new skills and jobs.

The initiative impacts upon adult learning from time to time due to its effect as a strong example of best practice and of partnership working. The Out There project has engaged a wide range of partners within South Hampshire and included the continuation of learning provision together with the commencement of new skills and employability activities.

The Project has utilised the skills and expertise of partner organisations to meet local demands for learning and ensured positive outcomes. It will help to inform the wider development of adult learning across the region and demonstrate the value of retaining good existing activities alongside the commencement of new strategically focussed learning.

What bearing do the flagship’s targets have on adult learning provision in your region?

Hampshire Learning is committed to supporting the broad learning needs of local individuals and those seeking to improve their skills or employment prospects. The Out There project is a good example of how Hampshire Learning and its partners can achieve a set of varying objectives through the auspices of adult learning.

Achievement of the flagship targets will actively contribute to the overall adult and community programme within Hampshire and in the South East region. The flagship targets will assist in;

  • Developing skills and qualification
  • Supporting learning in deprived communities
  • Supporting employability and raising incomes
  • Promoting community and civic participation
  • Helping to achieve overall regional learning targets

The Project involved a consultative and listening exercise that has resulted in the accomplishment of learning targets. It has contributed to the delivery of adult  learning in Gosport and towards the growth of innovation and added value activities within the region.  

How can your experience better inform EU policy makers about adult learning through this initiative?

The Out There Project represents the value of partnership working, inter agency collaboration and community-based provision. It highlights to EU policy makers the added value implications of effective joint working and devolved decision making at the local community level.

Hampshire Learning is committed to offering provision that reflects local need and demand within relatively disadvantaged communities and that is cost effective.  Out There assists Hampshire Learning and Hampshire County Council to meet these objectives and is an example that can be utilised by EU partners.

The Project also indicates how successful adult learning activities and  outcomes involving over 600 learners can be secured  through cost effective and planning approaches to delivery. Partnership collaboration and joint working to retain existing provision and to strategically provide new activities has been secured via the project.

The value of effective partnership working, robust planning and in engaging the local community are activities undertaken by the Out There project can inform EU policy makers of the merits of this approach.

How can the flagship initiative enhance the delivery of adult learning in your region?

The initiative can enhance the delivery of adult learning in the region through its ability to promote a number of positive attributes such as community engagement, partnership collaboration, good management and strategic working within disadvantaged areas.

The Out There project was developed following the commitment of local organisations, with the support of Hampshire Learning, preparing to support a broad offer of local adult learning. As a result it will not only support the broad needs of learners within Gosport but it will also contribute towards regional learning targets and goals and act as an example of best practice.