Dumfries & Galloway Lifelong Learning Team
Continuing our case studies on the amazing response of CLD during COVID-19 lockdown, we now want to highlight practice from Dumfries & Galloway’s Lifelong Learning Team.
The team adapted quickly by transferring programmes to online platforms. This quick response ensured they could continue to offer learning opportunities in:
- Adult learning
- ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)
- Adult Literacy and Numeracy
- Family Learning,
- Accreditation Learning opportunities
The team adopted a social practice approach to choosing which digital platforms to use. They surveyed learners to establish which digital platforms they already had access to, and were comfortable using. The team then began a steep learning journey of their own as they quickly developed their own skills to use these platforms effectively, and safely. This resulted in the team being able to offer these learning programmes on a range of platforms.
To help remove barriers to digital participation within vulnerable groups, the team provided a number of solutions including the lending of equipment, with additional set-up support. For example, iPads that were purchased for the Syrian Refugee families were delivered to homes fully set-up.
The programmes don’t just focus on learning and skills development. The team recognised how key it was to support the health and wellbeing of their learners in such challenging times, something that is especially important in the rural geography of Dumfries and Galloway.
The team secured funding from several charities/organisations which enabled them to provide learning packs with a health and wellbeing focus to over 200 vulnerable adult learners. The strong relationships the team already had with learners enabled them to customise the packs to meet individual needs. For example, some contained pots and seeds to support the delivery of relaxing STEM learning activities. The team delivered the packs to learners’ doors. Due to the geography of the area, many vulnerable learners were living in very isolated conditions and this was their only face to face engagement. Having this socially distant contact enabled them to have a general conversation about how they were coping. Many were living in very challenging circumstances and the CLD Team were able to support them with a range of issues including crisis grant applications, housing issues, accessing free school meal entitlement and additional shielding packages.
The support provided by the team didn’t stop over the summer. The success of the adult learning packs helped to secure further funding from the National Lottery for 200 family learning packs which the staff delivered to the doors of families across Dumfries and Galloway over the summer holidays. These packs provided a range of fun learning activities for the family to do together. They also contained basic resources to create their own activities, for example pencils and paper. Again, this provided an opportunity for a face to face check in with families and ensure they were accessing all the support they needed. For example, they were able ensure that ESOL families were accessing Scottish Government Covid-19 Guidance. For families where the parents/carers were isolating, they were help to make additional deliveries of learning resources for the children to ensure they could continue to learn together over the summer break.
The children were very excited to receive their parcels!
In addition to delivering the packs, the team also ran a virtual summer programme for 4 weeks in July. Each day of the week had a different theme- Motivate Monday, Try it Tuesday, Walk Wednesday, Take a trip Thursday and Fun Friday. Activities included a virtual live life well course for adults, cooking, virtual Peep sessions, themed walks, quizzes, STEM sessions, photography workshops, family challenges, dance and yoga, crafts and games and more. This ensured that there was a wide variety, something for everyone.
The programme was delivered through social media platforms the families were already accessing. Participation rates in the summer programme were very high with most activities reaching an audience of 2, 000 and some reaching nearly 5,000. Feedback from the participants was very positive with many sharing photos and stories of them engaging in the activities on their own social media feeds.
The move to a digital platform has enabled the team to expand their social media presence. One Lifelong Learning account alone went from just over 1,000 followers to 8,000 with posts reaching over 1.5 million accounts, including many other learning providers and families in the UK engaging with our content.
The impact on the team, both in terms of their practice and confidence levels has been significant. Staff who were nervous about introducing digital platforms into their practice have reported that the peer support colleagues and partners provided has been invaluable, as they develop their skills and approaches. The team are continuing to develop their digital skills to enhance their learning offer, not replace face to face delivery. This will ensure that moving forward, learners now have even more opportunities to engage in a blended learning model which meet their needs.
You can find out more through their social media channels: LIfelongLearningDGC Facebook @DgcLearning