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Sheffield’s adult learning and high needs programmes ‘outstanding’ in Ofsted report

Five people stand in a line next to a pull up banner promoting Lifelong Learning
Learners enjoy the Lifelong Learning Awards in June 2023.

Sheffield City Council’s Lifelong Learning Service has been awarded an ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted for the city’s adult learning programmes, provision for learners with high needs and behaviours and attitudes of staff.

Being awarded an outstanding rating in these categories puts Sheffield amongst the top performing local authorities in the country for adult learning and supporting people with high needs. Overall, the service has been awarded a ‘good’ rating by Ofsted.

The report praised the service for enabling residents to gain the skills and confidence needed to be successful in employment and be active members of their community. Inspectors found that as well as the support needed to achieve qualifications, learners were also offered a wide range of enrichment activities, including working towards Duke of Edinburgh Awards, family learning sessions and supporting local charities and food banks.

Sheffield’s Lifelong Learning service gives adults across the city the opportunity to learn new skills, gain qualifications and access advice and support to help them find work. Every year the service works with more than 3000 residents, which includes up to 300 apprentices.  The service offers a range of subjects including social work, business administration, carpentry and teaching; delivering personalised programmes for people with high needs, and helping people access courses to help them learn English, maths or improve their digital skills, and supporting families who can learn together.

Councillor Martin Smith, Chair of the Economic Development and Skills Committee, said: “A huge congratulations to the Lifelong Learning service and its learners for achieving such a fantastic report from Ofsted.

“I am particularly proud to hear that our adult learning and our provision for people with high needs have been rated as outstanding. This is testament to the personalised and flexible approach we take to adult leaning in Sheffield. When you treat people as individuals, with their own strengths, ambitions and needs, you can work with them to get them the results they need to thrive.

“By investing in good quality education and personalised wraparound support and encouragement, we’re creating supported pathways that help people become the best version of themselves, find fulfilling work, and become engaged members of their community.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to access education to learn new skills, gain confidence and unlock new career options. It is fantastic that in Sheffield we know people can access a good and outstanding service that puts learners first and gives everyone the chance to achieve their ambitions. A huge thank you goes out to all who helped the council achieve this brilliant result.”

In Sheffield, all apprentices that go through the Lifelong Learning Service go on to sustained employment and their achievement rates are higher than the national average. Apprentices can complete courses from Level 1 to Level 6, to allow them to progress and gain more qualifications.

Hamed Davami is from Iran and since moving to Sheffield, Lifelong Learning has helped him gain the qualifications he needs to help him start a career in care.

He said: “When I moved to the UK I started volunteering as an English teacher, then I volunteered at St Luke’s Hospice as I worked to my Level 1 in Health and Social Care. I love to be caring and I got a job as a Care Assistant in Sheffield which is a brilliant and lovely experience. It helps me improve my knowledge, language and pronunciation and I really enjoy that.

"I encourage people to join their community and volunteer to help them improve their life. Thank you very much to the service for everything, I have really progressed and learnt new things. I use this knowledge to help other people, be positive and encourage other people to find themselves.”

To find out more about Sheffield’s Lifelong Learning service visit To read the Ofsted report in full click here.