Business and Economy

Learn Devon continues supporting vulnerable learners during lockdown

Photo of Learn Devon tutor Barbara dropping shopping off with homework for learner Patrick

Posted on: 12 May 2020

Learn Devon is continuing to go the extra mile to ensure that its more vulnerable learners receive the support they need during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Learn Devon, Devon County Council’s adult education service provider, offers courses for, and works with, some of the most vulnerable people in our local communities.

The lockdown and the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has brought a set of new challenges to everyone and these challenges are often particularly difficult for those needing daily care and individuals who might feel isolated or lonely.

Learn Devon tutors have been going out of their way to continue being there for their vulnerable learners, supporting them with remote learning classes and providing them with online homework.

Tutor Barbara Kernick is not only delivering homework activities to enable Patrick Smale, one of her learners, to brush up on his skills and fill his days while at home, but she is also shopping for him.

Patrick, from Kingsteignton, is currently studying Matters Courses in English, Maths and Drama and is a keen participant in taking on leading roles in drama productions. The “Matters” courses are classes tailored for learners with learning difficulties and disabilities.

Barbara said: “When the lockdown started we were very concerned about Patrick going shopping, as he has a number of underlying health conditions. I live near him, so I persuaded him to let me do his shopping and deliver it at the same time as I drop off his homework. Patrick is always doing things for others and it’s a privilege to do something for him and his lovely lockdown companion, Charlie the puppy, who he luckily got just a few weeks before the restrictions were put in place.”

Patrick said: “I love the activities Barbara sets me to do. I am quite excited to wake up every morning to find out what the challenge is. It is refreshing every day with something new to look forward to.”

Tutor Caroline Ross regularly sends homework to her Matters Course learner Andrew Trigger, who lives in Tavistock, and keeps in contact with him via regular calls.

Photo of Learn Devon learner Andrew Andrew said: “It’s OK learning from home but I am really looking forward for the group being back together again.”

In one of the most recent tasks Caroline set for Andrew, he drew a rainbow in support of the NHS and care workers. Andrew also keeps a daily diary that will be turned into a booklet when he returns to class. Images of Andrew and his homework are regularly supplied to Caroline via picture messages of Andrew, taken by his support worker.

Photo of Councillor Rufus Gilbert

Councillor Rufus Gilbert

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “It’s crucial that learners like Patrick and Andrew continue their learning throughout this pandemic, otherwise they can end up feeling isolated and disconnected from society. Online learning is offering a lifeline during these challenging times and it’s wonderful to see the tutors generously giving up their time to do that little bit extra to help their learners.”

Learn Devon recently launched over 100 free tutor-led online courses to help those most affected by the coronavirus outbreak, and to address its economic and social impact and the effect on wellbeing and mental health of people across Devon. You can browse courses on the Learn Devon website.

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