Essex Adult Community Learning (ACL)


Essex ACL pride themselves on the standard of their teaching, learning and assessment and were graded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted following an inspection in June 2009. They offer a variety of courses, one of which is the English Language GCSE. In many cases, the students have already achieved Functional Skills level 2 and then progressed onto the one year GCSE course delivered in 32 weeks with 2.5 hours of contact time per week. They enrol a variety of adult students, from those needing the qualification for work to others hoping to continue their learning to Higher Education level.

The Context

Susan has an infectious love of English and English teaching which is evident in her work with learners and how she discusses that work. She has taught at Essex ACL for 12 years, initially teaching Key Skills and Functional skills and then GCSE English Language over the last four years. She started using Facebook to engage learners and keep them learning outside the classroom in a convenient manner that would suit their busy lifestyles.

As she says, “I know they’re on Facebook… that’s the reality… old and young.’

The Approach: Using Facebook

Susan uses Facebook in numerous ways, to contextualise and personalise learning and to engage her students. Have a listen to the podcast below to hear her and one of her learners discuss its different uses. The podcast has been structured in the following way:

Introduction and Context

Here Susan explains the importance of communicating with students through modern technology. She explains how useful it is to highlight messages such as the importance of the exam (60% weighting) and of reading quality articles. She also explains how other tutors can contribute to the page, keeping learning active and real.

Essex ACL 1

Contextualising Learning

(4.40 minutes into the interview – part 1)

Some examples of how GCSE content can be contextualised and made relevant through: engaging letters, an interview with the film director Quentin Tarantino and a discussion with a student over the difference between ‘oppressed’ and ‘enslaved’.

Essex ACL 2
Personalised Blended Learning

(7.20 minutes into the interview – part 1)

A discussion around the interactive nature of Facebook: using the ‘messaging’ tool; involving LSA’s; and supporting students with particularly challenging life circumstances.

Essex ACL 3

Personalising the development of students’ SPaG skills

(53 seconds into the interview – part 2)

Any teacher teaching a GCSE course in one academic year will appreciate the lack of time to focus on essential underpinning writing skills. On-line grammar games aimed at adults can ensure students do not feel patronised when learning these skills and the Facebook format personalises learning so the students can focus on the areas they need to work on.

Essex ACL 4
E-safety and Equality and Diversity in Practice

(4.38 minutes into the interview – part 2)

Susan acknowledges the potential issues of using this type of social networking site with some solutions to those issues. She also offers an excellent example of equality and diversity in practice, sharing an anecdote about her work with a student experiencing mental ill-health.

Essex ACL 5
Impact and Success Factors

Susan only started using Facebook with her learners this year so it is too early to measure impact. However, she has commented on how the students are now making more effort than previously and spending more time working independently on English work.

Listen to the podcast below to hear a learner discuss how Susan’s use of Facebook has engaged her and supported her learning.


Associated resource – English Resource Book


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