Impact of COVID-19 on Adult Learning and Education (ALE): UK case study

Newell-Jones, Katy; Cheffy, Ian; Fuller, Simon; Furlong, Tara and Millora, Chris. 2022. Impact of COVID-19 on Adult Learning and Education (ALE): UK case study. Research and Practice in Adult Literacies Journal, 105, pp. 57-69. ISSN 2054-5355 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The findings of this study in the UK suggest that those working in Adult Learning and Education (ALE) in Islington feel that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a higher impact on ALE than other education sectors. Within ALE, the impact of the pandemic has been disproportionately high on the most marginalised ALE learners.

The pandemic has highlighted the role of ALE as a frontline community service, strengthening the sense of community and providing valuable links between service providers and some of the most marginalised in the community.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a considerable challenge to ALE provision in the UK, disrupting the service and presenting a steep learning curve to tutors, coordinators and managers. Providers of ALE responded quickly with provision in Islington converting to online delivery within a couple of weeks.

The Adult and Community Learning (ACL) curriculum was adapted rapidly in response to the COVID19 pandemic, to address the immediate challenges faced by learners in their lives and livelihoods. On-going reflection and dialogue about the appropriate curriculum and mode(s) of delivery continue.

In the post-pandemic climate, Information Technology (IT) is no longer seen as a discrete topic to be studied, but as an essential component of ALE and as a cross-cutting theme, similar to literacy and numeracy, embedded into all provision from entry level onwards.

All of these changes need to be seen in the light of the finding that the pandemic disproportionately impacted the most vulnerable ALE learners and those in the community who had least access to support and resources. Further research is required to explore ways of ensuring continued access to support and learning services by the most vulnerable adult groups in future crises.

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Additional Information:

Funding for this research was provided by BAICE, through a Seedcorn Research grant.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies



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Date Deposited:

02 Aug 2023 13:49

Last Modified:

03 Aug 2023 06:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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