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Part-time learning was once accessed by tens of thousands of adults through night schools – but due to funding cuts, many institutions have had to close. Following Baroness Alison Wolf’s appointment as a skills policy adviser to the prime minister, they could be set for a revival.  

Flexible learning is an essential option in education with a large number of people hoping to improve job and career prospects through further training. However, night school cutbacks have also coincided with an increase in online learning. 

What are the benefits of night schools and online learning? And why are night schools set to be revived?

What are the benefits of part-time learning?

The benefits of part-time learning are:

  •  Individuals can learn at a time that suits them
  •  It can be economically viable for the provider
  • It increases participation in learning
  •  It meets the access needs of a wide range of learners
  •  Staff are more adaptable and responsive
  •  It builds learners’ confidence and independence
  •  It meets the preferred learning style of different learners
  •  It increases retention and attendance
  •  It improves achievement and success rates

Why should night schools be restored?

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has found that the number of adult learners has fallen from 4.4 million in 2004-05 to around 1.5 million in 2017-18. Baroness Wolf told MPs:

The main problem is that we have completely destroyed any sort of easy infrastructure of proper institutions in all towns where you can go to evening classes briefly, where you can go for a while, come out and go back.

That used to exist in every town in the country. The ghosts of it are there, but it needs to be revived.

A spokesperson for Leeds City College said:

Supporting low skilled workers and adults with mental health issues is an integral part of our work, and it’s important that we continue to be responsive to local community needs.

We would welcome additional public funding to widen our scope and create a sustainable and robust adult offer.

What are the benefits of online learning?

In the period where night school enrolment has been on the decline, online learning has been on the rise.

Since 2011, the numbers of American students studying at UK universities entirely via online degrees have increased by 26%, Canadian numbers have risen 41% and Australian and South African numbers have soared a staggering 125% and 135% respectively.

Rajay Naik, Europe CEO at Keypath Education, comments: 

It’s clear we are experiencing a global boom in the number of students studying online degrees, and it is fantastic that so many are choosing UK institutions for distance learning.

A report by The Learning House reported 44% of online students achieved improvements in their employment standing (e.g. full-time employment within 12 months of graduation). 45% reported an increase in salary.

Why choose online learning ahead of night schools?

Online learning enables the learner to have:

More flexibility: Studying online means the learner can choose their learning environment, meaning the user has comfort as well as working times that are convenient to them.

Lower costs: Online learning means that transport costs are waved for the user, as well as being cheaper for the operating business due to fewer overheads.

Self-discipline and motivation: Studying online requires greater motivation and time management skills because it means students have responsibility for managing deadlines, without being looked after by a classroom tutor.

It has even been debated that online learning could replace schools altogether. Read more in this blog post.

How can EDLounge help?

EDLounge Limited is a training and education centre providing virtual learning, management and guidance through an online platform. EDClass+ offers over 11,000 lessons on a wide range of subjects, as well as live teaching and support. EDLounge has also been inspected by Ofsted.