Our mission

“The Community Learning Service seeks to secure a high quality community learning programme which meets local need. The programme will focus on widening participation, developing communities, improving health and well-being, increasing skills and supporting personal progression.”

An introduction to the Community Learning Service (CLS)

We are part of Portsmouth City Council's Employment, Learning and Skills service. We are fully externally funded with the main source of funding being the contribution which comes through our contract with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) which we seek to supplement though other sources, such as Tinder Foundation's UK Online Centres. This means that we are able to provide certain courses free of charge, others at heavily subsidised rates and offer reduced fees for those on means tested benefits - see our Curriculum Strategy and Fees Policy for more information.

We operate from our purpose built centre; The Learning Place, 6 Derby Road, North End, in Nelson ward and you are welcome to drop-in and see us to find out more. The centre's core opening times are 9.00 - 16.30 Monday to Thursday, and to 15.45 Fridays.

Our aim is to provide high quality learning experiences for adults living and working in and around Portsmouth. All teaching staff are trained to teach adults, with appropriate additional subject specialism qualifications and are required to complete annual training / professional development.

We understand that for some learning supports leisure and for others it builds capacity and skills, enabling them to get back to work, take a greater role in their community or better support their children's learning. We therefore try to provide a responsive programme which maximises access to community learning for adults, bringing new opportunities and improving lives, whatever people’s circumstances, such as:

  • Qualification based courses supporting readiness to work / employability including:
    • Functional Skills English, maths and ICT from entry levels up to level 2
    • Food Safety in Catering
    • Apprenticeships for those aged 16+
  • Community Learning programmes including:
    • Computers and internet
    • Family Learning and Parenting, including English and maths
    • Community / non-accredited ESOL
    • Introduction to Functional Skills English and maths
    • Arts and Crafts
    • Cookery
    • Health and Wellbeing (e.g. confidence building, relaxation and stress busting)

If you are not able to find a course you are looking for on our website do please get in touch with us. The programme is subject to change and some courses with certainly eligibility requirements are not always advertised on this website. We only have a limited budget but we do look to prioritise its use to meet identified demand, so tell us what you would like to learn and why! Many of our programmes can also be delivered in a range of venues, so if you represent a community or organisation and are interested in hosting some courses, let us know that too!

In addition to the courses we deliver, a small proportion of our funding is allocated to enable quality contracted providers to be engaged, through a robust procurement process, resulting in a broader community reach.

Our current key areas for development are:

  • Work readiness, pre-employment skills including increased business / employer links internally and externally, to particularly support the ongoing development of Apprenticeship programmes.
  • Digital inclusion: continuing to offer IT provision and seeking to use innovative solutions to support those who remain digitally excluded to engage with computers and the internet
  • Health and Wellbeing: further developing the increasingly well documented links between learning, health and wellbeing.

You can read what Ofsted thought when they last inspected us in February 2016 by clicking here:

Ofsted report