First Steps to Learning is an informal learning project that helped to bring together women from a range of different cultures who are unemployed or economically inactive and have not engaged in any structured learning (many without any formal qualifications)predominately from BME communities living in Biscot, Dallow, Challney and Saints wards of Luton, the four most deprived wards in the borough, to participate in activities to improve their confidence, motivation, interest in undertaking informal learning leading to take up of further education and training and employment opportunities.
Two successful ESOL classes took place in the Autumn 2015 and Spring 2016, supported by Bedfordshire and Luton Learning Partnership. Both covered the following subject areas:
- English: speaking, singing, writing, reading, spelling
- Decision making
- Meta-learning (learning how to learn)
- Active citizenship.
Level 2 started in November 2015 and included more advanced work in all these topics. Level 1 started in January 2016. This class was supported by Fatema Islam, a teacher in her own right and fluent in English, Urdu and Bengali. She and the tutor, Judith Robinson were able to support the wide range of ability levels in this beginning class.
A total of 19 learners successfully completed 45 guided learning hours for Level-1 course and 18learners successfully completed 30 hours guided learning hours for Level-2 course. The courses were delivered at CYCD.
The certificates presentation of the First Steps to Learning Project was held on Wednesday 20th April 2016 at CYCD and the Chief Guest, Rumi Chowdhury, Trustee of BWP and Robert Burton, Director of CYCD, presented the Certificates to Learners and congratulated them on their achievements.
Course Tutor, Judith said: “It is a delight and a privilege to work with, and learn from, such lovely women who are so committed to improving their English. I wish them well as they continue their journey to become fluent, strong, active citizens, good examples to their families and communities. I extend warm thanks to the Learning Partnership who has made these courses possible for those starting out on an exciting learning adventure.”
25 learners completed a BWP follow-up evaluation questionnaire; this was in addition to the end of course Learning Partnership feedback questionnaires.
- 100% of learners agreed we had helped them to understand and apply to learning processes (Meta-learning)
- 100% of learners agreed their English language skills had improved as a result of doing the course (speaking, reading, writing & listening)
- 3 learners agreed the course had given them the skills to help them make decisions in everyday life eg shopping, doctor, school; 2 learners said they were not sure.
- 24 learners agreed the course encouraged them to be active citizens; 1 learner was not sure
- 72% of learners said they had started another course since the programme finished with 1 learner awaiting a course to start (having enrolled)
- 48% of learners said they had taken up volunteering since to programme ended.
- 40% of learners said they had gained paid employment since the programme ended.
The CYCD Director, Rob Burton said: “Congratulations and well done to all our learners on this programme. Improving our skills and especially English language skills is so important and I am so pleased that these ladies have made this first step into learning. Thanks to the Learning Partnership for supporting us to make this learning opportunity possible.”