Arinola Edeh, the Principal and Head of Service at Westminster Adult Education Service, describes how Further Education (FE) and Training gives adult learners the agency to transform their lives and why she champions continuous professional development (CPD) for her staff.
Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES) is a thriving learning centre based in the heart of London. They offer a vast range of courses, apprenticeships and distance learning opportunities, and support 6,000 adult learners, with 70% from a global majority.
Arinola Edeh, Principal and Head of Service has been at WAES for over 11 years. She has seen their education service shortlisted twice for the TES FE Adult Provider of the Year Awards, and they were a finalist in this year’s AELP AAC Apprenticeship Awards.
I think FE enables learners to transform their own lives. When a learner walks through our door, we can show them all the other doors that are available to them – all the opportunities they can seize if they’re given the tools to do so.
Most of our learners have not had the best start in life, or they may not have had many options available to them. Further Education can give them the confidence and agency to make their own choices, enabling them to flourish and not just survive through life.
There are too many! But the first example that comes to mind is one of our ESOL learners (English for Speakers of Other Languages). He progressed so well he returned as a volunteer, and he’s now a Learner Governor, others have gone on to become Learning Support Assistants. He said he came back because of the wraparound support we provide, which has given him the confidence to start a business. Now his wife is studying at WAES and his child attends our onsite nursery. Learning can have a ripple effect, transforming the lives of not just the learner, but their families and communities too.
Throughout my 20 years in FE and adult education, I’ve had some fantastic managers who have supported my development, and I absolutely want to give back and support my own staff’s CPD.
At WAES, we approach CPD the same way we do when supporting learners. We want to unleash the potential of our teaching and support staff, but we also need to look at where they’re starting from and what different needs they might have.
I’m very proud of my staff who have taken on their CPD and run with it – a fantastic example would be one of my Quality Coordinators, Fatema Desai. She is a champion of her own CPD and for her colleagues, and is always promoting the latest ETF resources and opportunities. She’s really developed herself, and has recently progressed into a more senior role at another organisation.
Our staff often refer to the ETF Professional Standards and evaluation tools. On one of our staff development days, we grouped into teams to map ourselves against the standards. This really helped us to identify areas for improvement and catalysed the discussion on how to get there.
From that day, the staff continued the conversation in their individual one-to-ones and appraisals, so they could set and manage their own targets. Some staff identified other courses they wanted to do as part of their CPD, and others researched courses from different providers, such as the local authority learning opportunities and HOLEX led programmes.
We have many individual SET members across WAES who benefit every day from the support it provides to help them progress. And in turn this is the best way for us to continue to help our learners progress.
Find out more about our Together we transform initiative, and view other case studies, highlighting the transformative impact that the Further Education and Training sector has on lives across the UK.