Over 120 years of experience

We are Scotland's leading voluntary sector adult education organisation.

We strive to widen access and participation by working with many of society’s disadvantaged adults in some of Scotland’s most deprived communities. Many of our learners also bring challenging issues that require additional support to enable them to learn effectively.

We aim to raise aspirations, develop learning opportunities for the most disadvantaged, and target our provision at underrepresented groups. The profile of our learners reflects this focus: -

  • 74% of our learners are women.
  • 77% of our learners identify themselves as part of Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities.
  • 21% are non-English speaking.
  • 23% of our learners have no qualifications at all.
  • 40% of our learners have qualifications at SCQF level 3 or lower.

The learning programmes that the SPƵվ offer are aligned to the outcomes and indicators of the Scottish Governments National Performance Framework and the Future Skills Action Plan for Scotland. 

A partnership that transforms lives

The current portfolio of provisions reflects the needs of our client groups.

Some examples include:

  • Delivering learning to those with low or no qualifications to enable progression to SCQF 4
  • Improving core skills of literacy, numeracy and ICT
  • Contributing to Scotland's ESOL Strategy for migrants and refugees
  • Developing employability skills for the low-paid, low-skilled and unemployed
  • Delivering digital literacy programmes to combat digital poverty.
  • Delivering work-based learning to improve productivity in low-skill, lower-paid sectors
  • Engaging with learners who are furthest from the job market, notably carers, young people, offenders and people with disabilities.

Many of our programmes meet one or more of the Scottish government's National Performance Indicators by: Improving the skills profile of the population, reducing underemployment, improving general health and wellbeing, improving people’s perception of their neighbourhood, and improving levels of educational attainment.  

Community Engagement and Learner Engagement

The SPƵվ delivers learning by engaging with people in their own communities, rather than asking them to come to us. 

SPƵվ staff and tutors deliver learning in local community cafes, community centres, libraries, job centres and warm spaces. The SPƵվ also run open days, and activity days and visits to community groups, spending time with local people to discuss their needs and help them overcome individual and societal barriers to education participation. 

In some cases, this engagement emerges from pre-existing partnerships and community relationships while in others we will proactively target the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, as identified by the (SIMD). Regardless of how or where we engage with individuals and communities, the aim is always to identify the help and support people need to take part in education and find the best means of enabling them to access it.

This is the essence of the SPƵվ’s person-centred approach to learner engagement. By reaching out to people in their communities we aim to become a trusted partner, supporter and advocate for the people who ultimately benefit from our services. In some cases, the appropriate intervention might focus on skills, in others it may be about building confidence, while for others it may be helping them manage some health and wellbeing issues before they can take that vital first step towards education participation or economic activity.

This is what being adaptable, responsive and person-centred means in practice. The SPƵվ approach creates a safe place for people to describe what they need, to a learning professional who is actively interested in helping them and is in an environment in which the client is familiar and comfortable. The combination of these three factors leads to a much more positive interaction and ultimately better outcomes. 

Access Equality and Equity of Participation

At the SPƵվ we are open to education for all and do not discriminate who uses our service. In terms of access, the SPƵվ goes beyond equality of opportunity but focuses on equity of opportunity too. Equality of opportunity suggests that all groups should have equal access. In reality, some community groups are far more advantaged or disadvantaged than others. By focussing on both equality and equity of opportunity the SPƵվ aims to ensure that those who are the most challenged get a disproportionate amount of help and support to access the opportunities available. We will also ensure that if the SPƵվ cannot directly help someone, we will endeavour to refer them to an organisation or person who can. 

Successful community engagement can take time and building trust with our intended beneficiaries can also be slow to earn. We hope that by proactively reaching out to local communities and meeting people in places they are used to visiting and are comfortable in will help break down some of these barriers. Furthermore, we use local tutors who live and work in our target communities and can therefore engage based on knowledge of the area its people and its challenges.


Where appropriate we will work in partnership with other providers and local community groups to broker introductions. In fact, the SPƵվ delivers most of its learning programmes across Scotland through commissioned provisions by a range of organisations in the private public and third sectors. These include local authorities, colleges, trade unions, and major employers such as the NHS. 

Monitoring our Effectiveness: Evaluation and Impacts

The SPƵվ monitors and evaluates all its learning programmes in several ways. First, all local projects and programmes adopt monitoring and evaluation methodologies that are the most appropriate to the mode of education delivery and that best meets the needs of the learners. Modes of evaluation include monitoring progress against ILP and GLP learning objectives, oral and written surveys, audio or video recordings, journaling, or reflective accounts.

A second level of evaluation takes place at a national level. All education programmes align to one or more SPƵվ national outcomes. This enables the SPƵվ to benchmark its provision between areas of Scotland and aggregate the outcomes from local programmes to evidence its impact across Scotland.

These programme evaluation processes are supplemented by Communities of Practice where staff and tutors exchange and share knowledge to enhance the quality of the learner experience. Finally output and performance monitoring of all programmes takes place via meetings between the SPƵվ Scotland Director and the accountable manager and through additional scrutiny by the SPƵվ Scotland Management Team and SPƵվ Scotland Board. 

Learn more about SPƵվ Scotland governance.

Learn more about the areas we work in and the type of course we offer below. 

Communication skills

Improving your learner's communication skills helps them to connect with others, access learning pathways, and progress in the workplace. We can help.

Find out more.

Community Interpreting

Community Interpreters facilitate access to public services by accurately interpreting between Clients and Service Providers who do not share the same language.

Find out more.

Creative literacies/creative writing

Our popular creative writing workshops and courses are facilitated by a range of writers who can create the right course for your group.

Find out more.

Digital skills

SPƵվ Scotland offers a range of digital skills courses and can tailor our delivery to suit specific learner groups. 

Find out more.


Our staff and tutors take a holistic attitude to employability, which is a strengths-based focused approach.

Find out more.


We offer a range of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses and can tailor our delivery to suit specific learner groups.

Find out more.


Almost 8 out of 10 adults struggle with maths. Developing skills with numbers can help learners improve their health, help them get a better job and find a good deal. We can help.

Find out more.

Numeracy - Multiply

Age 19+ and live or work in Aberdeenshire, Fife, Glasgow, or the Highlands? The SPƵվ have a range of FREE online numeracy courses. 

Visit our Multiply microsite to learn more.

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