Top five reasons to study as an adult learner

Although returning to education as an adult can seem like a daunting prospect, there are endless amounts of benefits to sharpening up your study skills beyond the age of 19.

We spoke with adult learner, Sahresh Akhter, who studies GCSE English and Maths at Keighley College, to discover the top reasons to study as an adult.

Meeting new people

“Before returning to learning, I was stuck at home and suffered from severe depression. I was keen to go out in different settings and meet new people. I’ve met so many fantastic teachers and peers through college, who have really supported my personal growth.”

Inspiring staff

“The teaching and non-teaching staff are an inspiration to me. Most of them are female, who are all empowering, hard working and supportive.

“I received fantastic support from the college’s community employment coach, Betts Fetherston, who worked with me to find the right university course and apply for it.”


“Achieving a work-life balance can be achievable as an adult learner. I have a son, and due to the flexibility of my course, I can work my studies around him.”

Personal growth

“After starting my course, I noticed how much confidence I had gained. My self-esteem improved and I learnt how to manage my time effectively.”

Increased opportunities 

“Gaining qualifications as an adult opens up many exciting job prospects. I’m incredibly proud to have been offered a fully-funded scholarship to study Advanced Practice in Peace Building and Conflict Resolution at the University of Bradford.

“In the future, I’d love to work for the United Nations on women’s rights in developing countries and promoting higher education for women.”

Find out more about adult courses at Keighley College here.

Have a Go at Keighley College

Are you looking to develop a skill and learn something new? 

This year, we’re inviting adults aged 19 and over to come into college to discover our range of subjects, as part of the Festival of Learning.

Festival of Learning

The Festival of Learning is a national campaign which celebrates lifelong learning for adults. 

The festival’s mission is to demonstrate the benefits of adult learning and raise awareness across the country. Some of the key reasons to engage in adult learning include:

Take part in our Have a Go Fortnight

If you’re interested in adult learning, but aren’t sure which course is for you, why not come down to college and get a taste of our diverse curriculum areas?

Our Have a Go Fortnight will be running from 1 to 12 November at Keighley College.

Over these two weeks, we’re inviting all adults across the region to learn something new, enhance employability and improve wellbeing through our bespoke adult taster sessions.

Book on these sessions using this link. Our available taster sessions include:

Ongoing events

As part of the Festival of Learning, we’re working with local partners across the district to deliver programmes and events that develop the skills and support the mental health and wellbeing of adults.

Discover our upcoming events here.

Community centre enriches the lives of locals

Community-centered learning is a pillar of adult education. This informal approach to learning offers adults a relaxed and inclusive environment, while giving them the opportunity to integrate with members of the community.

As part of the Festival of Learning; a national campaign which celebrates lifelong learning, we’re shining a spotlight on key community centres which inspire and empower individuals in the area.

Bangladeshi Community Association

This month, we’re taking a look at the Bangladeshi Community Association; a Keighley-based non-profit organisation which aims to better the lives of the Bangladeshi and local residents by providing services, activities and events.

Keen to make a lasting imprint on the community, the centre’s staff and volunteers work with members of the community and local organisations to improve and develop the area, as well as voicing the views of the Bangladeshi community.

Collaboration with Keighley College

As part of the collaborative work undertaken with Keighley College, each week two teachers from the college visit the centre to teach maths, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), reflexology and exercise for women.

Sam Stelling, Community-led Learning Development Tutor at Keighley College, commented on the work done with the centre: “We’re committed to building bridges between our college and the community centres by showcasing the many benefits of lifelong learning. So far, our classes have had some great engagement; it’s fantastic to see adults, especially women, of all ages engaging in fun learning activities. Some progress into college where they can access further courses and others benefit from dropping into the college based Skills Lab, which they use for one-to-one support in personal development and employability.

“From 20 September, we’ll be introducing new courses including teaching assistant, DIY for women and African drumming. As many of the members find the prospect of college intimidating, our role is to bring stimulating learning experiences to them where they feel most comfortable.

“The work I do with the Bangladeshi Community Association is extremely rewarding; the connections I’ve made and the lasting friendships I’ve seen blossom has been wonderful. We now want to spread the word about this centre, the value it adds to the community and encourage adults to find out more.”

Shining a light on the centre

The four-strong centre team is made up of the centre manager, administrator, citizens advice consultant and a facilities manager.

We caught up with Hajera Ansari, who is the centre administrator and receptionist at the centre.

“The centre acts as a focal point for the Bangladeshi community, offering support, guidance and helping people to become more independent. As well as offering various classes, such as basic skills, sewing and exercise, we run an advice centre which helps individuals with issues such as benefits, immigration, jobs, translation and form filling. 

“Community centres are vital for improving adults’ wellbeing; they have the opportunity to improve their skills which will benefit them in the future. These environments also help adults feel comfortable in a place which is familiar to them, allowing them to build relationships and become more confident and independent.

“A lot of the centre users see it as a second home, where they can make a real difference to their lives by learning different skills, engaging with a diverse range of people and enhancing their knowledge.”

Shelina Khanom, Keighley-resident who studied Foundation Studies at Keighley College, commented: “I used to go to the sewing classes at Bangladeshi Community Association, which allowed me to learn new skills. 

“I have now started to do the exercise and maths classes with Sam; it’s great fun and has really boosted my confidence.”

Find out more about the Bangladeshi Community Centre here.

“I believe in providing young people with the skills needed to succeed” – Adult learner helps tackle unemployment in Keighley

Raaj Ray has lived and worked in Keighley for many years, and has always been keen to raise the aspirations of young people in the area.

Driven by the desire to boost opportunities for young people, he returned to college in his forties to equip him with the skills to set up his own security business, Raaj CCTV.

An informed decision

Raaj spent many years working within the fire, CCTV and intruder alarm industry. Keen to develop his skills for his professional development, he got in touch with Keighley College.

“I chose Keighley College because of its openness to show me the workshops and training areas before signing up. The college was really accommodating, allowing me to see where I would be learning and meet the tutors.

“At the age of 45, I wanted to be sure that I was making the right decision. The college appreciated this, and showed me the past results for the course, giving me the confidence to join the Electrical Installation Level 2 course.”

Motivated to progress

After two years at college, Raaj is continuing his academic journey by progressing onto the Electrical Installation City and Guilds Level 3 qualification.

“I chose to return to college for a third year due to my outstanding tutors; they’re extremely knowledgeable, polite and have provided me with fantastic pre-exam support and revision tips.

“Coming back to college as a mature student was enjoyable; I felt confident in my learning ability. Since returning, I’ve gained knowledge on electrical cables and installation techniques. 

“Although it was difficult attending college during evenings after a twelve hour day at work, I knew my tutors really cared about my success and this motivated me to continue learning.”

Being his own boss

Dedicated to creating an honest business which protects the community, Raaj set up his CCTV business in 2015.

“I have always aspired to be my own boss; giving me the freedom to create my own strategy and business plan. As managing director, I’m responsible for managing the business, providing customers with quotes and installing CCTV and alarms in homes and businesses across West Yorkshire.

“My future ambition is to grow Raaj CCTV into a national brand, supported by a large team of installers with their own vans working for regional offices.”

Opportunity for younger generation

Given the effect the pandemic has had on young people seeking employment, Raaj is motivated to create exciting new opportunities for young adults in the area.

“I believe in providing young people with the skills that will help them become better engineers. So far, I’ve worked with three Electrical Installation Level 2 students from Keighley College; their enthusiasm and commitment to developing new skills has been admirable.

“One of these students works with me as an apprentice which has been incredibly rewarding, and I look forward to employing more apprentices in the future.”

At Keighley College, we’re celebrating all adult learners by getting involved in the national Festival of Learning campaign. Take a look at the events on offer here.

Adult learners open day

An open day focused on adult learners will be held at Keighley College this September.

The event takes place at the Bradford Road campus on Thursday 2 September and offers visitors a chance to look around and find out about the variety of courses on offer.

The day will consist of two slots, at 10am and then at 2pm, and also include some ‘taster sessions’ with the Skills Support Hub.

Expert help and taster sessions

The hub is made up of an expert team at the college who work with partners including Bradford Council, SkillsHouse, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and local employers to see how they can best meet the needs of each individual.

During the Keighley College adult learner open day,  visitors will find out how to improve their job searches and CVs to boost their career prospects.

Guidance will also be available on the range of adult courses that are on offer and how they can help to enhance current skills or kickstart a new, or change in, career.

And representatives from the local DWP’s Youth Hub, which works with partner organisations to help 18 to 24 year olds gain employment, will be there to help too.

Places on the open day can be booked here.

Celebrating adult learning

The event is part of Keighley College’s support for the Festival of Learning, a national campaign to promote and celebrate the value of adult learning.

For more details on how the campaign is being backed locally, visit Festival of Learning – Leeds City College .

“It’s never too late to learn” – adult learner encourages others to pursue their ambitions

Ben Broadbent returned to education at the age of 30 to pursue his ambitions of working in the public services industry. 

Before joining the college, Ben described himself as a ‘maths-phobe’, with very little belief in his arithmetic abilities. 

Through hard work, perseverance and support from his tutors during lockdown, his confidence grew, which was Ben’s first step in achieving his goals.

“Most employers look at your maths and English GCSE grades, especially higher paying roles, which require a minimum of grade 4 in both maths and English. 

“I had a hard time in and out of school with both my life and mental health so I never achieved what I wanted when I was younger. 

“As I grew older, I decided I wanted to get a job in security or with the police. I believed I was terrible at maths so it was a huge boost for my self-esteem and confidence when I discovered that I could do it.

In  2019, Ben achieved the Functional Skills grades he required; a grade 4 in maths and a grade 6 in English. This prompted him to go further and progress to GCSEs.

“The GCSE Maths and English courses were free because I got a grade below C in my initial GCSE results which I had undertaken when I was 16. This made me eligible to take the courses completely free of charge. 

“The college did far more than that though, the kindness and patience of the teachers really helped me boost my confidence and reassured me whenever I had doubts in myself.

“The goals they set for me were realistic too and they were always happy to go over topics with students if they ever fell behind. It taught me how important patience is in a teacher.”

Describing his experience at Keighley College, Ben said he would ‘recommend it to anyone’ and that it’s ‘never too late to learn or improve your life’.

“I never felt alienated because I was an adult learner,  I felt supported throughout. The teachers made me realise that I just lacked confidence and needed to learn the fundamentals before getting to GCSE level. Paula Proud’s classes with her assistant teacher Tony, really helped bring out the best in my learning and allowed me to achieve my goals.

Ben is getting closer to becoming a PCSO with West Yorkshire Police, with ambitions of eventually being a police constable. 

Perfecting the balancing act of parenthood, study and hospital work

Tending to people’s needs is something that adult learner, Kelli Smith, has always longed to do. 

After working as a healthcare support worker at Airedale Hospital for over 17 years, she decided to take her career one step further and pursue nursing.

Juggling parenting and a hospital job is challenging enough; however Kelli has found a new lease of life after returning to college at 37 years old to study Functional Skills in English and maths.

A new direction

Changing careers can be a daunting prospect for many, however as Kelli’s children got older, she decided now was the right time to take a different direction.

“Ever since my children were born, they have been my first priority, as I’ve always decided to concentrate on them. However, now that they’re getting older, I’ve had time to reflect on my long-standing ambition to pursue my career further; deciding to take the plunge back into the learning pool.

“I’ve always held nursing in the highest regard and had ideas of changing my career eventually, but I had to make a conscious effort to build my confidence and go for it. I was aware of Keighley College’s community-centered reputation, therefore I chose to sharpen up my English and maths skills.”

Managing responsibilities

Kelli was faced with the challenging task of handling parenthood and working through college studies – all while working at a busy hospital during the pandemic.

“The various lockdowns upheaved our everyday lives; especially with switching to home learning when bubbles collapsed. My children and I worked tirelessly to ensure their work was completed to the best of their ability, and the knowledge I learnt through my college courses really helped me support them.

“It was important for me to stay focused on my college studies, so I always made the effort to join additional revision classes and attend every lesson. My time at college was phenomenal; I felt incredibly supported by my tutors who were genuinely committed to boosting my skills and confidence.”

Continuing lifelong learning

This year, Keighley College is taking part in the Festival of Learning; a national campaign to celebrate the achievements of adult learners. 

“I would encourage everyone to continue learning as they get older; lifelong learning gives you the skills to adapt to an ever-changing environment. 

“I was over the moon to have passed my English and maths courses this year, meaning I’m one step closer to my dream nursing job. I’ll be returning to Keighley College in September to gain my GCSE maths.”

As part of the festival, Keighley College is working with partners across the region to deliver a range of taster sessions, short courses and open days for adult learners. Find out more here and discover our calendar of events.

‘Education is not bound by age’

When Husen Ali moved to the UK in 2017 the then 16-year-old’s most pressing goal was to master English.

Now, following lots of hard work at first Keighley College and then Leeds Sixth Form College, Husen is half way through his A levels with his sights firmly fixed on pursuing a law degree at university.

He credits his tutors for giving him the skills and confidence to ‘dream bigger’ and gain the qualifications that have helped him decide on his future career – and says the value of lifelong learning can’t be overstated.

Broadening horizons

He said: “When I came to the UK around four years ago I could speak very little English, so to improve that I enrolled on an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) course at Keighley College.

“The time that I spent there was unforgettable as I met fantastic people, the staff were always polite and always helped me when I needed it, and the students were very diligent and fun to be around.

“On top of that, I consider myself very lucky because without the teachers that I had I wouldn’t be where I am today: they guided me and encouraged me to always do my best.

“At first, I was going to choose the engineering route at Keighley College but then one of my teachers suggested I should do my GCSEs first, as that would allow me to expand my options and help me discover what I truly like.

“If it wasn’t for that comment I wouldn’t have enrolled at Leeds Sixth Form College and discovered my passion for law.

“So I am really grateful that I met such fantastic people at Keighley who always pushed me and encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone so I could improve myself.”

A chance to keep improving and growing

With his GCSEs successfully acquired Husen is now studying hard for the A levels he needs to secure an offer to study law at university.

His educational journey has been a challenging but very rewarding one, and he is keen to encourage others to find the courses that will help them follow their dreams – whatever their age.

He said: “I have just completed my first year of A levels and in September I’ll start my final year and then go to university.

“My first choice would be Durham University, which belongs to the Russell Group. Although the acceptance rate is 69.4%, which shows that getting into Durham can be a bit competitive, I am confident that I’m capable of meeting the requirements needed.”

Reflecting on the Festival of Learning and its celebration of lifelong learning, he added: “No matter how old you are, pursuing education is never too late as education is not bound by age.

“Lifelong learning will allow you to keep improving and grow as a person, also it will give you a sense of satisfaction as learning new things gives us a feeling of accomplishment.”

To find out more about courses at Keighley College visit

A wide range of courses are available to study for free, through the government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, for anyone aged over 19 who doesn’t currently hold a Level 3 (A level equivalent) qualification. For more details visit

For more information about the Festival of Learning here

Keighley College joins Leeds City Region partners to prioritise adult learning

Keighley College, a member of Luminate Education Group, has teamed up with partners across the Leeds City Region to host a series of free short courses for adults, as part of the national Festival of Learning.  

The group is working alongside local organisations and education providers to get adults in the region back into education, following the challenges of the pandemic. 

Now in its 29th year, the Festival of Learning (formerly Adult Learners’ Week) was launched to celebrate adult students and encourage others to participate in lifelong learning. 

Cllr Jonathan Pryor, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education at Leeds City Council, said: “Over recent years, although Leeds has continued to prioritise adult education, we’ve seen it become less of a priority across the country. A lack of confidence amongst adult learners due to the pandemic, paired with historic funding cuts and reduced support, has resulted in the lowest adult participation in a decade. This partnership aims to celebrate the important role learning can play in adult lives and encourage them back into education.

“Skills are very high on the agenda for business recovery and growth post-pandemic. The partnership reflects that adult learning is available at all levels and stages of life; whether that’s starting from scratch with a new skill, brushing up and updating knowledge or taking it to an advanced level.”

As part of the Festival of Learning, adults will be encouraged to develop skills, enhance their employability and improve wellbeing through a range of taster sessions, residential days, virtual seminars and open days.

Yultan Mellor, Principal and Chief Executive at Northern College, added: “The festival is a superb opportunity for us to shine a spotlight on the different expressions of adult learning across the region, including community, college, home and residential settings. Our collaborative activities aim to showcase the benefits of adult education, including flexibility, financial support, personalised experiences and positive wellbeing outcomes.”

Set to launch in July, the Festival of Learning activities will kickstart with a Returning to Education: Support for Adult Learners webinar at University Centre Leeds on 20 July. Additional upcoming events include Five Ways to Wellbeing course at Northern College on 22 July.

Ann-Marie Spry, Vice Principal of Adults at Luminate Education Group, commented: “Adult education is central to the rebuilding of our economy in a post-Covid environment. Therefore, we are working with key stakeholders in the area to demonstrate how lifelong learning can better equip learners to adapt to unexpected change and enhance their skills, in order to suit the ever-changing job market.

“This partnership brings together experts across the region to identify how we can work together to achieve shared objectives to raise the profile of this vital agenda. Drawing expertise and insight from our partners helps us to understand the current climate, allowing us to overcome barriers to learning and champion adult education.”

In the next academic year, the partnership will be encouraging learners to take part in ‘Have a Go’ activities, providing adults with the opportunity to try different courses and discover their passion. Rebuilding relationships with the community will also be a key focus for partnership activities, including taster sessions in local community centres.

The group, including Leeds City College, Keighley College, Harrogate College, White Rose Academies Trust and University Centre Leeds, is working with partners including West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Council, Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges, University of Leeds, The Prince’s Trust and Northern College, to deliver shared adult learning objectives.

Find out more about the Festival of Learning partnership by following the hashtag #FoLpartners on social media and discover our upcoming events here.