Our tutor Phil Kirkby is nominated for the Inspire! Tutor Award 2023! | Adult Learning Wales

Our tutor Phil Kirkby is nominated for the Inspire! Tutor Award 2023!


Our tutor Phil Kirkby has been delivering a variety of Digital Literacy and Confidence Building courses across North Wales. He has been working with disadvantaged adult learners who are trying to return to employability. In particular, the participants have lost employment often due to Covid and/or age. Most have little or no computer skills and are therefore not prepared for the modern/current employability market. In addition, all these cohorts are also impacted by poor mental health and/or physical or undiagnosed learning disability. These learners have a raft of barriers to education which have led to them being unable to complete other employability training and have also led to them believing they are incapable of learning.

Phil’s development of a welcoming and supportive informal learning environment has led to all learners now knowing they can achieve, and all have successfully completed accredited educational units. All the learners are much closer to employment, but much more importantly have developed self-belief and confidence in themselves.

Our Curriculum Development Co-ordinator Sam Emmet says, “I have worked with (and trained) a lot of tutors in this area, and have very rarely seen success such as that made by Phil. His development of a very effective learning environment not only means that attendance is excellent (which is very rare in this type of setting) but that Phil’s learners look forward to future session and are now actively involved in identifying areas and programmes to develop and enhance their own skills and prospects.

Our tutor Phil Kirkby says, “The course subjects I deliver are tailored to meet the requirements of the learners and the partners that Adult Learning Wales provide educational resources for, and include Improving Own Confidence, Digital Literacy, and Word Processing. The levels of each course are selected to meet the requirements and abilities of the learners on each course. Class sizes are generally small, usually no more than 10 or 12 learners in any one session and I find that the small class sizes allow me to adopt a more personalised and informal approach to teaching.

My learners have an average age of 46, they are mostly long-term unemployed, and many have mental health and/or additional learning needs. Almost all my learners have not been in any type of educational environment since leaving school, and many of them have spoken of their apprehension when they first attended one of my classes.

To try to alleviate some of this apprehension, I try to ensure that the first sessions are an enjoyable, and light-hearted introduction to the course, with a focus on inclusivity, getting everyone involved in group activities to breakdown some of the perceived barriers that learners may have about attending Adult Learning Wales courses.

With learners that have had little or no educational experience for so long, I have strived to show them how rewarding and enjoyable learning can be by creating an effective and encouraging environment for their learning journey. As the courses progress, I am always looking for ways to show learners that access to education is available to everyone and seeking out opportunities to highlight pathways for their learning journey to continue, whether those opportunities are progression courses with Adult Learning Wales, or by encouraging learners to seek out higher education alternatives.

The results have been fantastic. Not only in the very high attendance levels and excellent learner feedback on every course I have taught, but excellent progression figures with very high numbers of learners enrolling on follow-up courses to continue their learning journey with Adult Learning Wales and several learners being inspired enough to enrol on HE courses in the local college in September 2022.

I feel truly privileged to have been nominated for an Inspire Tutor Award, but I feel the true privilege is to have the chance to inspire my learners to continue their learning journey."

We would like to congratulate Phil on the way he has inspired others and wish him the best of luck at the Awards!

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