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Opportunities for learning in North Dorset

Whether you are looking for a new interest or want to follow an academic learning course the purpose of this factsheet is to signpost the reader to opportunities for learning in the local area. Learning providers are able to advise students about accessibility and learning support services, and some are able to offer fee concessions to eligible students.

Adult Education in Purbeck and North Dorset

Skills and Learning

Skills and Learning.
Oakdale Centre
Wimborne Road
BH15 3DL
Tel: 01202 262300
Email: infopal@poole.gov.uk

A range of courses offered at various venues throughout the Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset.


Weymouth College

Cranford Avenue, Weymouth
Telephone: 01305 761100
Email: igs@weymouth.ac.uk

Weymouth College offers a wide range of academic, interest, and skills courses to adults of all ages.

Yeovil College

Tel: 01935 423921

A range of further education, skills and leisure interest courses available to all adults in the South Somerset, North and West Dorset areas.


Higher Education in Dorset

Arts University Bournemouth

BH12 5HH
Tel: 01202 533011 (General enquiries) – Email: hello@aub.ac.uk
Admissions: 01202 363228/363225 – Email: admissions@aub.ac.uk
Short Courses: 01202 363222 – Email: shortcourses@aub.ac.uk
Summer Courses: 01202 853605 – Email: summercourses@aub.ac.uk

A variety of Arts related courses available ranging from summer based interest courses, short courses, through to undergraduate and post graduate degree courses. Access to student loans and bursaries to finance tuition and living costs.


Bournemouth University

Talbot Campus
Fern Barrow, Poole
Telephone: 01202 961916
Fax: 01202 962736
Email: askBUenquiries@bournemouth.ac.uk

A range of undergraduate, postgraduate, and short courses available. Access to student loans and bursaries to help with tuition and living costs.

Dorset Adult Learning

Dorset Adult Learning offer a wide range of vocational and general interest courses across the county, anything from accounting to yoga. Courses are available during the daytime, evening or on a Saturday. For further information and a copy of the current brochure visit https://www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/adultlearning/venues OR contact Skills and Learning (listed above) on 01202 262300 www.skillsandlearningbdp.co.uk

Local Organisations

Age UK Dorchester

Rowan Cottage
4 Prince of Wales Road
Tel: 01305 269444
Email: info@ageukdorchester.org.uk

Age UK Dorchester offer a wide range of social activities and courses to help you learn new skills or develop a hobby or interest.

The Kingcombe Centre

Dorset Wildlife Trust
The Kingcombe Centre,
Toller Porcorum,
Tel: 01300 320684
Email: kingcombe@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk

Holidays, courses and day events in a wide range of subjects relating to the arts and the countryside.

Kingston Maurwood College

Telephone: 01305 215000 (general enquiries) - Email: administration@kmc.ac.uk
Courses Helpline: 01305 215215
Textphone: - 01305 215033
Fax: 01305 215001

A range of agricultural and land based courses available.

Libraries – North Dorset

Most libraries provide information about local learning opportunities.
For further information contact your local library or log on to www.dorsetforyou.com

Blandford Library – The Tabernacle, DT11 7DW Tel: 01258 452075
Email: blandfordlibrary@dorsertcc.gov.uk

Gillingham Library – Chantry Fields, SP8 4UA Tel: 01747 822180
Email: gillinghamlibrary@dorsetcc.gov.uk

Shaftsbury Library – Bell Street, SP7 8AE Tel: 01747 852256

Stalbridge Community Library – Station Road, DT10 2RG Tel: 01963 362142
(no email).

Sturminster Newton Library – Bath Road, DT10 1EH Tel: 01258 472669
Email: sturminsternewtonlibrary@dorsetcc.gov.uk

Mobile Libraries

If you live in an isolated or rural area you can find out where and when the Mobile Library visits by contacting the Library nearest to you or logging on to www.dorsetforyou


The University of the Third Age

U3A offer a range of courses and social activities for people over 50 who are either retired, semi-retired, or no longer in full time employment. A chance to develop an interest or learn a new skill, and make new friends. Contact the local office for your area listed below.

Blandford & District: 01258 453376 (Membership Secretary)

Sturminster Newton: Contact via the website.


Open Learning

If you are unable to attend timetabled lectures, you may prefer “open learning”. This allows to you work independently at home, at their own pace, using specially designed resource material from libraries, TV and radio programmes, and online.

Association of British Correspondence Colleges (ABCC)

PO Box 17926
London SW19 3WB
Telephone: 020 8544 9559
Email: info@homestudy.org.uk

National Extension College

The Michael Young Centre
School House
Homerton Gardens
Tel: 0800 389 2839
Fax: 01223 400321
Email: info@nec.ac.uk

Helpline open Monday – Friday 8am – 7pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am – 5pm.


The Open College of Arts/University of Creative Arts

The Open College of Arts
Michael Young Arts Centre
Redbrooke Business Park
Wilthorpe Road
S75 1JN
Telephone: 0800 731 2116
Fax: 01226 730 838
Email: enquiries@oca.ac.uk

Via the OCA/University of the Creative Arts you can study for full BA (Hons) Degree following the flexible distance learning model at one third of the price of a traditional University degree. There are a range of Open Degree courses available from Foundation level through to an MA Fine Arts.

Open University

Student Recruitment
The Open University
PO Box 197
Milton Keynes
Tel: 0300 303 0075 – Helpline open Mon – Friday 8am – 8pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm
Email: http://www.open.ac.uk/contact/new

The UL’s largest university offering a range of courses including certificates in higher education, diplomas in higher education, open degrees, foundation degrees, honours degrees through to post graduate studies. Flexible distance learning full or part time, with assistance with fees if you are eligible, and easy payment plans available.

Open and distance learning quality council

If you already have a course in mind, you may wish to check the organisers’ validity before paying any course fees. The Open and Distance Learning Quality Council is an independent body that checks the quality of organisations that offer open, distance and online learning opportunities. Help includes:

• Advice on open & distance learning

• Lists of currently accredited providers

• Online courses database

• Support for learners who study with accredited providers.

Email: https://www.odlqc.org.uk/contact-us


Specialist Organisations

Deaf Learners

Deaf Learners aims to support deaf and hard of hearing students through universities and higher education establishments by holding workshops and introduction days, signposting to support services, and providing training for education providers. For further details contact them online at http://www.deaflearners.org/about-us/ .

See also:

WDDA – Wiltshire and Dorset Deaf Assoc

Offer courses in BSL (British Sign Language) Levels 1 – 3. Contact them via http://www.wdda.co.uk/index.html . There is also a link via the Bournemouth Deaf Club website http://www.bournemouthdeafclub.org.uk/courses .


Read Easy – Blandford www.readeasy.org.uk 

Do you know an adult that can’t read? Did you know that at least 5% of adults in the UK cannot read? Imagine what it’s like to be unable to read instructions, adverts, menus, recipes, signs and forms, not to mention a book, newspaper or a bed-time story to a child or grandchild. No wonder illiteracy can lead to poor health, depression and even anti-social behaviour. Read Easy Poole can help – trained volunteer coaches give completely free, patient, one-to-one help in quiet approved venues locally using a brilliant phonics method which really works. So if you know anyone who struggles with the written word contact John on 07954 711776 or Ann on 07789 771999 or email blandford@readeasy.org.uk for more information.

Read Easy Gillingham and Shaftsbury - contact Jenny Pope on 0844571 9578 email jenny@readeasy.org.uk .

Royal National Institution for the Blind (RNIB) Education Centre

105 Judd Street
Helpline: 0303 123 9999
Email: helpline@rnib.org.uk

Educational courses and advice for the blind.


The Geoffrey Udall Centre
Beech Hill
Tel: 0118 988 5688
Fax: 0118 988 5677
Email: info@thrive.org.uk

Thrive are a national charity that aim to create positive change in the lives of disabled, disadvantaged and older people through the use of gardening. Thrive run courses for
children with learning difficulties right through to older people with dementia. They also have a national resource centre providing advice and support to local projects around the country.

Thrive also have a project specifically aimed at helping people “Carry on Gardening”. The website www.carryongardening.org.uk offers help and advice about how to adapt the garden and specialist tools and techniques for people who have had to give up gardening due to old age, illness or accident.

Refresh your driving skills

Dorset Driver Gold

Dorset Driver Gold provides drivers aged 65 or over (but younger drivers are welcome), with the opportunity to update their driving skills and knowledge, helping them deal with ever changing road conditions, and can reduce the risk of becoming involved in a road collision. The courses are held during the day, giving drivers an opportunity to discuss issues related to driving and receive help and guidance with things that may concern or worry them. The courses are delivered by Safewise tel: 01202 591330 http://www.safewise.org/.

There are two elements to Dorset Driver Gold:

Theory Session

This is an up to 3 hour course aimed at helping drivers update their knowledge and skills. No driving is involved.

Practical Course

You will be accompanied by an experienced driving professional, in your own car, on this 90 minute course. The route usually includes town and country driving; you can also ask the instructor for help with things that bother you, such as parking or reversing difficulties. The aim is to update and improve your driving skills to reduce the chance of you becoming involved in a collision.

Courses are held in Bournemouth and Weymouth areas. For further information about both courses and a list of charges contact: http://www.safewise.org/bookings/dorset-driver-gold/ or tel: 01202 591330, text mobile 07713 499 777, or email ddg@safewise.org . There is also a link from the Dorset County Council website: https://www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/roadsafety/driving/older-drivers


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