Home > Education & Information > How to Volunteer in the Adult Learning Sector

How to Volunteer in the Adult Learning Sector

By: Lynne Conner - Updated: 31 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Adult Learning Literacy Numeracy Reading

Reading, writing and numeracy are vital skills in the modern job market and in everyday life from filling out forms to reading labels and pricing bills in the supermarket. Yet an estimated 7 million adults in England & Wales alone lack these basic skills. Some leave school having fallen through the gap whilst for refugees and new citizens English may be an unfamiliar foreign language. You can share your reading and writing abilities to make a real difference to someone’s life.

Skills for Life is a Government initiative which has been taken up across the UK. Up to 10000 local volunteers share their skills and gain teaching and communication skills. More are always needed. Additionally many people with basic skills but barriers such as visual impairment or learning difficulties welcome support in reading for pleasure.

Who Can Get Involved?

Anyone with reasonable levels of reading and counting can get involved. For volunteering work in colleges there may be an interview. A regular time commitment is needed. Consistency is important to learners so you need to commit to a regular volunteering slot. As classes often takes place in evenings full-time workers are often able to volunteer.

Peer support is also welcome. For example the National Literacy Trust encourages men to become ‘Reading Champions’ as role models for other men and boys. Prisoners may volunteer to help other prisoners to read while other groups such as the elderly can get involved in book clubs to support reading for pleasure.

What Does it Entail?

Literacy and numeracy can improve job prospects, earning potential, self-confidence and pride. This helps in personal development as well as community regeneration. Volunteers may teach basic reading and writing skills or encourage reading for education and pleasure.

Skills for Life courses usually run in colleges and adult education centres. In some cases volunteers take a short training course lasting a fortnight to two months. Many colleges encourage volunteers to complete a City & Guilds certificate in Adult Learning Support. There is a tailored national core curriculum for adult learners to follow, this ensures teachers are giving consistent training across the country.

Where possible skills are taught in a way that relates to the day-to-day life of learners with individualised learning plans. Many learners already have basic skills but need help to polish them, some need to learn from scratch and others need more in-depth, specialist teaching. Volunteers may support a paid teacher in a group or offer one-to-one support.

Another key area where volunteers can help is in teaching English as a foreign language to refugees and asylum seekers. Other initiatives include read aloud sessions open to all or to targeted groups such as older people with dementia and telephone Book Clubs using teleconferencing to encourage housebound older readers using teleconferencing.

How to Find Out More

Most areas have an Adult Literacy or Skills for Life Coordinator or try contacting local libraries, colleges or community education departments for information. The National Literacy Trust can also advise on volunteering while Lifelong Learning UK can provide more details on teaching in colleges and progressing from volunteering to a career in adult literacy.

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Jit - Your Question:
I am not a great mathematician, but to get my MSc in Logistics in my mid forties I had to somehow hack statistics. It was hard work but in the end gave me a career in demand forecasting. I understand the difficulties of coming to terms latish in life with basic mathematical ideas such as multiplying or dividing by fractions or decimals, negative numbers, and percentages. I have also seen how reasonably able people in fairly ordinary jobs are held back by their difficulties in these areas. Now I am retired I should like to try and give something back in the area of numeracy. I live in the Shaftesbury area of Dorset.

Our Response:

Dorset Youth Enterprise
Dorset Youth
Volunteering Dorset - search volunteering opportunities and select education/literacy
CommunityHelpers - 7-Nov-17 @ 9:48 AM
I am not a great mathematician, but to get my MSc in Logistics in my mid forties I had to somehow hack statistics.It was hard work but in the end gave me a career in demand forecasting. I understand the difficulties of coming to terms latish in life with basic mathematical ideas such as multiplying or dividing by fractions or decimals, negative numbers, and percentages.I have also seen how reasonably able people in fairly ordinary jobs are held back by their difficulties in these areas. Now I am retired I should like to try and give something back in the area of numeracy. I live in the Shaftesbury area of Dorset.
Jit - 31-Oct-17 @ 8:39 PM
@Tracy. Here are some organisations to try
Volunteer Aberdeen
Robert Gordon's college volunteering
Camphills School Day Volunteers
YMCA volunteering
CommunityHelpers - 24-Apr-15 @ 10:27 AM
I would to help in the community, I used help tutors in fife in digital skill courses till I moved to Aberdeen an would like to help in this area as well Tracy whyte
tracy - 21-Apr-15 @ 1:53 PM
I think education is so important and I'd like to get involved and volunteer with literacy programmes, however the problem is that there aren't any programs outside of core work hours. Which makes it difficult to give back to your community.
miraclepie - 8-Jun-11 @ 9:52 AM
a really interesting article - however the reality is not so easy. despite many contacts it seems that there are no opportunities out there. A real shame as i have 25 years of expereince in Adult Education (Managment and wide variety of Learning & Development stuff!) and really would like to use it!
max - 26-May-11 @ 1:15 PM
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