Community Education

Community education is where local, independent education organisations, who are committed to social change, provide all kinds of support and learning opportunities for people in their communities, helping people to become empowered through learning.

Community education helps people who want to return to education or learning, but may not have the confidence or opportunities to do this in a formal setting like university or further education.

It is rooted in values of equality, justice and empowerment.

It creates a voice for those who are furthest from the education system.

It is based on what people need and is driven by communities.

Community Education is non-formal in nature and courses or classes can be short and part-time. They can be a first positive step back to education. It can lead to many possibilities for adult learners and communities, including building confidence, meeting new people, having a greater involvement with your local community, and possibly progression to further education or employment.

AONTAS Community Education Network (CEN)

The Community Education Network (CEN) was established in 2007 by AONTAS. It is a network of over 100 independently-managed community education providers who work collaboratively, sharing information and resources, engaging in professional development and working to ensure that community education is valued and resourced.

The Community Education Charter was launched in 2021 as a resource for all community education providers. It outlines the values of those who practice and engage in community education, including seeing learning as valuable in itself and not just as a route to employment or further education. It also means being inclusive of everyone - regardless of their experiences, age, or abilities. Click the link below to view the Charter and read more.


CEN membership

Membership of the Community Education Network is free for AONTAS members. Please note CEN membership is subject to criteria. All members must be local, self-managed, independent community education organisations committed to social change.


AONTAS Policy Day:
Issued in March 2022

AONTAS Policy Day: "Community Education - Working Together to Address Educational Equality"

VIEW PDF (4.35 MB)
A reflective view of the impact of the second round of Mitigating Against Educational Disadvantage Fund (MAEDF). Published on the AONTAS Policy Day, as part of the Adult Learners' Festival 2022