York Learning

Strategic Plan






Areas covered across City

Whilst there isn’t a course running in every ward, all residents have a choice from a range of offer they can attend centrally, online or nearby – Please see heat maps for venues and where learners live at the end


Last Ofsted Rating

Good (Nov 20)


Self-Assessment Rating

Good (Jan 23)



Total Learner Enrolment numbers 22/23






York Learning identified the following key priorities in the Council Plan we support and contribute towards.


Safe Communities and Cultures for All

Nos/Enrolments 22/23

Target for 22/23

Progress to date




Modern Foreign Languages   and Sign Language 




Understanding and participating in a language develops an understanding of other cultures and encourages a more equal and diverse approach to others.   We believe that this helps encourage a mutual respect within communities.


Update June 23 Recruitment has continued to drop in languages, we had hoped to see more of a return with face-to-face provision post covid, but we believe the impact of the costs of living and less people holidaying abroad has had an impact on the interest in languages in general.   This is a reduction seen nationally in the uptake in languages.

However, 2 of the new Beginners and Beginners Plus Spanish courses are oversubscribed and we have had requests to begin a new Italian course.

It has proved incredibly difficult to find suitably qualified MFL tutors.

Our BSL evening course is also full, however, our tutor has withdrawn due to his other work commitments. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of suitably qualified tutors nationally, but the CM is optimistically following up a new lead.


Heritage Skills




This wide offer develops personal interest and skills to support the cultural visual arts and crafts environment that York has to offer.  Learners continue to develop their skills and/or go on to become self-employed artist, designers.  Nearly all learners report benefits to their mental health and wider social interactions prevent feelings of isolation.

Update June 23

We are continuing to develop this area and are covering a wide ranged offer from stained glass which is now on the endangered heritage craft list, ceramics, textiles to willow work.  We are struggling to expand it with the lack of suitable venues to widen the offer.


Community Arts Events

7 events

194 enrolments

8 events

250 enrolments

5 events


There are events that run as introductory free activities to engage with residents and community groups through particular events.

Update June 23 . Includes events such as Adult Learning in York Week; Fashion Show; Morsbags workshops and recycling of fabric into Knickers.  These all enable us to bring cross sections of communities together. 


We have had to move staffing over this last year to ensure we maximised opportunities with Multiply and therefore have had to reduce the number of events, however we have now identified some capacity and will start with more events over the next year.


ESOL – English for Speakers of Other Languages




No target was set as this was a rapidly expanding area. 

Update June 23 Full details in section 2.4 below. 


Prevent and Safeguarding




York Learning has robust Prevent and Safeguarding processes.  Prevent and safeguarding both feed into safer communities and supports residents understanding of what to do if the need should arise.

Update June 23

We have introduced and increased our free online safety courses to our offer.   We have effective safeguarding processes and concerns go to all DSL’s/DDSL’s ensuring that a high level of safeguarding response is always maintained.

The Improvement Board did a review of our safeguarding processes and were happy to say they were effective with one or two enhancements suggested which we have put into practice.


Well paid Jobs and an inclusive Economy

Nos/Enrolments 22/23

Target for 22/23

Progress to date




Improve Essential Skills – English, maths, Digital, Employability






Start of year We are optimistically cautious for a full return to the classroom.  Primarily there is face to face learning as well as online and blended learning but when teaching lower levels of skills such as Entry and Level 1 face to face has the most impact and supports good achievement rates.


Update June 23    A good recruitment response during this academic year in these areas.  However, there has been higher drop out from learners particularly within maths due to demands between work/life affecting attendance, lack of understanding of the time commitments needed and increased anxiety in learners around maths exams.

In spite of funding being withdrawn for Level Two ICDL we have continued some provision through non accredited routes to support local employer feedback being clear that this qualification/level is wanted. 


1-1 Careers Information Advice & Guidance

And  full assessments





All accredited courses have processes in place to do individual advice & guidance and assessments. 


1-1 careers guidance sessions have significant impact to support individuals to identify their skills, what they need to improve on and what opportunities there are for employment, volunteering, progression.

Update June 23

Residents can now book an IAG or assessments through an online process which also supports partners and individuals to book sessions at any time of the day/night.   A wide range of individuals from different backgrounds and incomes have come to sessions.  Following on from these sessions we have seen that some are very far from the workplace due to low skills and poverty whilst others are struggling with where to take their current quals and what and how to apply for jobs.


It is clear there is some work to do within initial assessments on the commitment towards studying to improve our retention rates and this is in our improvement plan for 23/24.




Apprenticeships, Work Based -Vocational Learning  


90 (WBL)





Start of Year Learners can be on an apprenticeship/ learner loans or AEB funded qualifications. Many learners are eligible for free courses due to low-income jobs. Courses focus on Childcare, Adult Care, Business Administration, and Management these are the key areas that our employers request from us. Most of the employers we work with are SMEs.  Expecting lower recruitment due to lower staffing this year. 


Update June 23  Apprenticeships numbers have dropped with lower paid sectors continuing to struggle to recruit and retain learners which has affected our retention rates.   We have increased assessment checks to support apprentices have the best chance to succeed or to improve their English or maths before they start their apprenticeship. maths/English is an additional pressure that apprentices are struggling with as well as the workload, additional shifts, and the allure of better paid work or less hours in other sectors.  


Job fairs

0 – due to covid



3 Job fairs have run this academic year, 2 large ones and 1 small one in Acomb.  We are looking at alternative types of events in smaller venues.  Numbers for attendance have been

Sept 22 – 600+  visitors and 76 exhibitors.

Jan 23 Acomb – 254 visitors and 25 exhibitors.

March 23 – 750+ visitors and 65 exhibitors.


Counselling Programme  L2,L3,L4




Most learners progress from L2 up to L4 to gain employment or self-employment in counselling.  Working with many local partners for student placements.   


Update June 23

The counselling programme has continued to grow and for the first time we have two year 4 (2 year) programmes running side by side and an increase in level 2 and 3 courses.    Demand for those wanting to work in this sector and placements/ volunteering and vacancies continues to be high.  Learners progress into other areas of work including school counselling; volunteering; pastoral support; mentoring;


Vocational courses aimed at employment or to support Self Employment  including BootCamps

66 enrolments







A range of courses to support reskilling when not in the workplace or to become self-employed.  These include Bookkeeping and Payroll L1-L3, Putting a Business together/tax/marketing etc. & web design. 

Update June 23

We were awarded additional funding to run two cohorts of a Digital Bootcamp: ‘Introduction to Coding’.  Due to its success and the extremely positive feedback from learners we have now been successful for further bootcamps in 23-24 to cover coding, data analysis and computer game design.


New courses have run relating to social media and cyber security which was highlighted by employers and the rail industry as a skill shortage.   


Drawing & Painting and Dressmaking courses are scaffolded to aid learner progression. We have recently had two D&P courses form collaboratives and one of these groups have  started selling their work at York River Art Market.  The most advanced group is called “Working Artists” and the tutor advised on: - how to sell online, how to approach galleries, etc. One of this group recently had his own solo exhibition at York City Screen.


Our most advanced Dressmaking & Pattern Cutting learners went to York College to receive a thorough introduction to the Degree course.


Good Health and Wellbeing

Nos/Enrolments 22/23

Target for 22/23

Progress to date




Arts, Crafts, Fitness and Leisure opportunities


(inc. 650 Heritage skills)



There has been an increasing return to the classroom for many parts of this offer.  Learners have embraced a return to the classroom. It attracts a wide range of learners from age 19+ upwards to 90+.  Our successful online programmes and other blended/hybrid styles have also continued.


Many learners articulate that these classes help support them substantially to reduce their isolation, build confidence, reduce stress, improve their health and wellbeing, make new friends and to feel part of the community.


Update June 23 We are continuing to identify funding to target those who cannot afford or recognise the benefits of courses that support wellbeing.  We have kept pricing down, and  funding is primarily accessible to those who can’t afford to pay or need discounts to engage.   Therefore, those who can pay do pay but we work hard to keep this to a reasonable price.


A growing social prescription model working through key partners such as CVS, Job Centre, Kyra etc has helped us to target those who would most benefit from a free course.


The Community Arts strand of the program is still going strong, with exciting developments ahead in - autumn 2023 with a new project hopefully calledThe Anchorite”.


Positive Progressions (PP), Action Towards Inclusion (ATI),




Sept - ESF funded projects that enable us to work with those furthest away from the job market are due to end March/June 23.  These projects enable us to engage on a 1-1 basis to discuss barriers to employment and learning and setting targets and actions to enable participants to improve their life opportunities.  


Update June 23 both projects ended in this academic year and we successfully achieved targets.   


We have successful acquired a new project called RISE funded by UKSPF which is a short- term project until March 2024. 


In the meantime, we will continue to look for other funding avenues to support those furthest away from skills & employment with the 1-1 support our current funding streams do not support.


Better start for Children and Young People

Nos/Enrolments 22/23

Target for 22/23

Progress to date




Family Learning




The Family Learning team will be working directly with 8 of our primary schools this year specifically looking at key areas such as parent input in developing wider reading with younger children. Strategic partnership development led to additional funding this work.

Update June 23

The model has worked well with schools whereby we place a tutor in the school for discussion with teachers about main aims for courses that term.  This feeds into how we plan and run sessions adding in other objectives relating to English and maths to lead to progression from Family Learning to English, maths and employment learning.  


Routes 16-19 Study programme


Positive Outcomes










This study programme runs at Winterscale House near Fishergate and is targeted at those young people who have struggled with school and are not yet ready for an apprenticeship or college and do not have the life skills to get a job.


Update June 23 

Recruitment to the programme was low, still being impacted by Covid and the reduction in signposting of provision to young people. All learners who started on the programme had significant barriers to engagement and attendance, with one learner not being in education since Year 2. Those learners that withdrew were due to complex mental health needs. All learners on programme have Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH) needs, 3 learners have an EHCP (Education Health, Care Plan). Attendance has been a significant challenge across the cohort this year as it has across the schools in the city. Attendance in education across the board is yet to return to  pre covid levels with those learners with SEN/EHCP/FSM over-represented in the figures.  Learners where attendance was a barrier received ongoing support to attend, working with the young person and families to implement strategies for engagement.


Achievement for learners has dropped to 58.5% from 75.7% in 2021-22.

Positive progressions have been maintained into further education, employment or training is 78%.

Although achievement is low, learners have made significant progress from their starting points, achieving at least one learning aim and gaining and developing their transferrable skills in preparation for employment and adulthood.


Recruitment to the programme for 2023-24 is much healthier with 25 young people starting on programme September 2023 and changes to format and attendance expectations have been clearly set out.





High Needs Support and Special Educational Needs 16-24




Sept - Application to access increased funding to cover more learners has been submitted for 22-23

Update June 23-

Increasing the funding was a focus for 22_23 in which we were successful. 

We have recruited 92 to date for 23-24 from a target of 105 . Our aim is to ensure all students are studying on specific learning pathways and to increase the proportion of 16-18s in this cohort to reflect the aspiration for special school pupils to leave Applefields at 16 rather than 19 in order to spend more time on gaining the skills for work and adulthood. We are part of a CYC Internships Work programme to increase and improve the number of Supported Internships available in York between May 23- May 24




Key Areas of Focus

Target Date

Performance 21/22

Target for 22/23

Progress to date


Consolidate partnership working with North Yorkshire County Council and agree a strategy for future collaborative working

Jan 2023


 June 2022

This will restart with a fresh perspective.

Update June 23

·      Successful launch of new joint strategy that clearly articulates the mission and aims for the service

·      Multiply initiative managed across both authorities exceeded Year 1 targets and continues to support adult participation in numeracy.

·      Shared Head of Adult Learning and Skills Service on strategic board for Learning Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) for York and North Yorkshire ensuring that routes to skills engagement were given high priority.

·      The LSIP will have significant impact on the shape of AEB devolution, Shared Head continues to make significant contribution to the MCA skills strategy.

·      York Learning Accountability Agreement builds upon the common strategy and aligns it with the regional LSIP.

·      Collaborative bid for additional funding drawn up and services contributing to the regional LSIF (Learning Skills Improvement Fund) bid alongside FE colleges to support the delivery of the LSIP


Continue to secure and extend provision for High needs support students as part of a “Personalised Learning”  for 16-19 year olds and for 19-24 with learning difficulties and disabilities





Actual 108

The service has been hampered by its limited ESFA funding contract and will therefore continue to put robust business cases to our regional ESFA contact in support of growth. 




Update June 23

The service was approved for a slight increase in numbers (104).  We are now concentrating on stabilising the provision and focus on the quality outputs  - total enrolments 108


Deliver 3 jobs fair as part of a strategy to support York residents into work

end of June 2023


Funding ends June 2025



Actual 3

We are hoping that there will be a positive return to job fairs in October. 


Update June 23. In 2022-23 we have held 3 job fairs – September 22 and March 23 at the York RI and one in Acomb in Dec 22.

The job fair in March 23 had our highest footfall since before COVID with 610 attendees.  

The future direction of job fairs is still in discussion, and it is recognised that local job fairs are helpful but central large job fairs provide greater access to all residents. Central events enable a larger proportion of residents to attend and gives employers wider access to a range of applicants. Smaller local events can dilute the number of employers willing to attend elsewhere.   We aim for 2 large event and 1 small job local fair and looking at 1 or 2 smaller events which are employment/ employability focused.


Continuing to develop further English for Speakers of Other Languages programmes in response to demand

July 2023


No target set due to rapidly increasing numbers.


Actual 301 including  Hong Kong nationals

Whilst potential growth is clear, we continue to be limited by access to city centre premises and will be seeking advice, guidance, and funding within CYC to assist.  Currently we have secured additional rooms at the Citadel but funding of venues for this type of learning is difficult. 



Update June 23 

Additional support for funding of rooms and manager / teacher time to support additional classes has come from Ukranian funding and partners have been supportive with additional space also.  WO continues to be a base we use for daily classes.   Funding has also supported the extension of this valuable programme to support the wider migrant groups.   Classes have been increased with 12 additional classes including 3 migrant classes have been created with volunteers.  This helps us to provide language development support with those not eligible to skills funding.   Retention has been challenging as many are found homes outside of York and migrants are often moved within 2-3 weeks from those we have contact with.


The movement of Ukrainians, Syrians, Hong Kong Nationals and Afghans particularly who have to move out of York for accommodation has affected our retention and achievement rates and is unavoidable if we are to respond to need.


Revise and develop new Family Learning Programmes to reinvigorate the programme and develop further support for learners

July 2023




Actual 213

Sept - Whilst disrupted by school closures and restrictions, work is continuing behind the scenes to connect with Early Help Health and Early Years Teams so we still feel positive progress in this area will continue.   T

Update June 23   the programme has continued to increase in numbers although learners need to be more targeted, so that we can concentrate on developing maths, English and digital skills. Many of the interactions have been short bite sized sessions/courses which is also the cause for the increase in enrolments. Engagement has been good though and will scaffold the more targeted approach into progression courses for 23/24.


Improve recruitment to digital skills from entry point’s up to work place competence and those digitally excluded.

July 23




Actual 307

Sept - We continue to support learners to access digital devices so that they can engage.  

Update June 23

Numbers have increased from 21-22 in part due to face to face delivery being re-offered plus our commitment to enable access to Level Two ICDL qualification where formal funding has been removed.   There has also been a broadening of our offer which includes; cyber security skills, bootcamps on coding; social media and small bite size digital courses created with partners to better support their clients’ needs.


Develop new community links to enable access to courses for social prescribing purposes and to target disadvantaged groups

July 2023

8 new connections



Actual 6 additional new connections  including  3 new social prescriber referral points

New partnerships have been formed with a variety of groups to support social prescribing onto our courses such as; York CVS; KYRA; York Carers, Yorkey Dads; . We have also refreshed our working with IDAS & Changing Lives and others. 

Update June 23

New working partnerships with:-

Union Terrace, delivering ground up digital skills workshops in partnership with York IT ReUse; MySight free digital courses for the partially sightedl; Job Centre Plus; The Early Intervention into Psychosis Team with creative arts and crafts.  Dementia Strategy group with targeted provision;




Develop a new curriculum incorporating creative digital design and digital editing skills, marketing, photography

Sept 2023



Update - (postponed)

Sept - These skills are in demand now and will develop higher-level skills to meet the future skills needs.  This will complement the following areas; Digital & Coding, Art & Photography, Work Based and Apprenticeships, 16-18 Study Programme.

Update June 23

Due to staffing pressures this has been postponed until 2023-24


Develop strong community signposting and delivery of information advice and guidance using the Community Hubs and volunteers to support new Skills hubs moving forward.

July 23





Update - 3 new classes

38 people trained in IAG

Working within the community hubs network build networking capacity and develop volunteer and community workers’ skills in signposting and making appropriate referrals to support services.

Update June 23

Through Community hubs and Family Centres  we have run 3 classes to engage volunteers/staff and charity workers into IAG   courses. We have also invested in providing the Skills Network learning platform to widen the offer at Level 2 to family hubs and other partners which has led to an additional 38 learners taking formal qualifications this year in this area.    

Heat Maps on Next Pages

Heat Map Venues



Heat Map  where our learners are from