Mapping Adult Education in Scotland: hills and glens, roads and pathways

Published by Dr Sarah Galloway

Consultations with Scottish adult educators have revealed vibrant adult learning projects making positive responses within a current climate of austerity Scotland’s communities. Adult education professionals also reported a growing lack of opportunity for practitioners to collaborate and learn from each other, as well as an absence of tutor level qualifications addressing adult guidance, prisoner education, family learning and supporting adult learners with digital technologies.

These are some of the findings of Final Report of the national Strategic Forum for Adult Learning Professional Learning Working Group. The report was launched at the Faculty of Social Science on Thursday 27 September 2018 at an event sponsored by SCUTREA, with partners from LearningLink Scotland, the Universities of Stirling and Glasgow, City of Glasgow College, the SCQF Partnership and the Scottish TUC.

Dr Bonnie Slade, University of Glasgow

The event was also an opportunity to reflect upon the wider context for adult learning in Scotland. Dr Bonnie Slade led discussion on some of the global challenges and the significance of the University of Glasgow’s Erasmus Mundus International Masters   in Adult Education and Social Change. The University of Stirling is an Associate of the programme, recognising on-going work by the Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) team, including the REAL Project, which furthered ways to recognising profession learning amongst European adult educators.

Considering the past, present and possible futures of adult education in Scotland, Dr Jim Crowther recalled Raymond Williams’ ‘The Long Revolution’, offering personal reflections upon the vital role of adult education to the sustenance of a democratic society. Austerity has bred ignorance, Jim stated. It is the ignorance of those in power about the lived experience of the majority.  It is here, he speculated, that adult education may be crucial in stimulating public debate, in circumstances of equality, where people may speak and listened to.

Dr Jim Crowther, University of Edinburgh and Jackie Howie from LearningLink

Diane Gardner from City of Glasgow College opened the discussion to the floor and practitioners exchanged ideas and experiences relating to the challenges raised within the Report. The Strategic Forum for Adult Learning continues to consult, taking forward the Scottish Government’s vision statement ‘Adult Learning in Scotland: Statement of Ambition’ which maintains a commitment to world class adult education driven by the aspirations of communities and learners.

Jackie Howie from LearningLink Scotland continues to chair the Forum’s working group for Professional Learning and can be contacted at The report is available here.

About the author

Sarah became involved in adult education as a volunteer literacies tutor at Stirling Council Adult Learning Team, gaining paid work initially with the Workers Educational Association. She has worked as Literacies Development Worker at Stirling Council and Offender Learning Lecturer with New College Lanarkshire. She also worked on the development and teaching of the new Community Education BA programme at the University of the West of Scotland. Her PhD was a theoretical project concerned with exploring understandings of empowerment and emancipation in the context of literacy education for adults and Sarah was researcher on the European Commission funded REAL Project at Stirling University, co-developing professional learning resources for adult educators across Europe. Sarah is an associate of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research. Sarah is now a lecturer in Education at the University of Stirling. Read more.