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Bringing Learning to Life with The Open University and the Department for Education

A partnership between The Open University and the Department for Education will allow adult learners the opportunity to gain Level 1 and Level 2 maths and English Functional Skills qualifications to help them further their career development. Funded through the Flexible Learning Fund, the pilot phase of the Bringing Learning to Life project started in September and will run until July 2019.

Part of the project will be delivered through a partnership with three further education (FE) colleges. The project aims to reach new learners who did not achieve maths and English qualifications at school on a massive scale by providing access to courses on the OU’s open access platform OpenLearn.

Partnership with regional colleges

Bedford College Group, Middlesbrough College and West Herts College will work with the OU to design and co-create the content as well as leading on delivery. As the colleges will be working with their existing employer and community networks during the design phase this will ensure the courses are tailored to both local and national employer needs. 

The project has four courses targeted specifically at adults who lack the basic skills in maths and English. The courses have been designed to help those learners who are re-entering education,   to develop their basic knowledge and get on in life and work.  

Low income students less likely to pass GCSE English and Maths

The launch of this pilot coincides with a recent report from the Fair Education Alliance. The research found that lower income students are less than half as likely to pass GCSE English and maths than their wealthier peers and reveals that small gaps at primary school leave lower income students playing ‘catch-up’ for the rest of their lives.

 The Open University has a 50 year history of making learning accessible to those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The OpenLearn platform attracts around 6m adult learners every year. Around 60% of these are without a degree, and around 3m are interested in using the platform for work-related learning.


About Author

Liz works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She has over 15 years' marketing experience working across a range of sectors, from diamonds to shampoo. She has a BSc (Hons) in Management from UMIST. In her spare time, Liz is usually found on roller skates or off travelling, having adventures.

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