It was a cold morning in central London when I arrived at the inner city adult education centre in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The centre reminded me of an old school, with exposed brick corridors of classrooms, high ceilings and the humdrum of shoes pounding the tiled floors.
I was met by a member of staff at the centre, perhaps one of the most organised individuals I'd ever come to meet. She knew, from memory, every class that was taking place, in every room, at what times. She showed us around and explained where best we might like to film our case study.
For the first scene, we sat in a classroom. It was your fairly traditional classroom set up - files in the corner, desks and chairs, whiteboard and the obligatory spider plant. As we set up for our first take, I got chatting to our organised helper. She worked in the marketing department at Hammersmith and Fulham and chatted openly and candidly about how our MIS system, Tribal ebs, made her life easier as a marketer responsible for recruiting and enrolling new students. Hearing someone talk so passionately about a product Tribal created made my day, but it was about to get a whole lot better.
Our first interviewee was David. He was the Head of MIS at Hammersmith and Fulham. David was a cheery chap with a smile that lit up on camera. We spoke at length about the work he and his team did and he openly waxed lyrical about how Tribal's data management team supported him. At one point, I'm sure we both forgot the camera was rolling, the conversation was natural, spontaneous and you could feel the genuine warmth for Tribal that exuded from David, in everything he said. His smile said it all when I asked him 'what's the best thing about working with Tribal's data management team'. He smiled and simply said, "I can sleep at night. Especially when we had Ofsted in. The way we use data now has heavily improved the quality of the service we can give our learners." As an expectant mother, I am beginning to realise you can't put a price on a good night's sleep.
"I can sleep at night. Especially when we had Ofsted in. The way we use data now has heavily improved the quality of the service we can give our learners."
After our first interview, the camera crew and I took a walk around the building and were struck by the diversity of learners. All abilities and ages walked the halls, all of them had chosen to be there, yet all of them had a different reason as to why. We were lucky enough to film some of the learners in their classes. We spoke to a few of them too. One woman we spoke to admitted to 'starting again' with education after falling through the educational cracks at a younger age. Another had dreams of setting up her own business and was learning the skills to do so. Another said they appreciated the sense of community the centre gave her and the friends she'd made. Whether it was fulfilling dreams, helping people out of a life they no longer wanted, or simply giving someone hope - I suddenly felt a surge of passion for centre's like Hammersmith and Fulham - they were unsung heroes - spreading positivity across individual lives. As the software and services provider empowering them to do this, I felt incredibly proud.
Our second interview of the day was with Eamon. He was David's boss. We filmed Eamon in the woodwork lab. The smell of wood shavings, the high stools and the battered benches took me right back to Mr Draper’s class in 1995. I never could master the dovetail joint. However, now, here I was, talking to a man who'd worked in education his entire career and to say he knew a thing or two about adult education would be an understatement. Eamon knew his learners inside and out. He knew what they needed and how best to provide it to them. He talked about the borough in general and how centres like his were helping to improve lives, both for the community and the individuals themselves. Eamon was really positive about Tribal too. He admitted to seeing Tribal's data management service team as part of their team at Hammersmith and Fulham.
Eamon was really positive about Tribal too. He admitted to seeing Tribal's data management service team as part of their team at Hammersmith and Fulham.
Carla, who heads up the data management service team at Tribal describes her team as 'the human beings behind the data'. Data is necessary for funding, reporting, and organisation. But it's these human beings, and many more like them, that strive to personally help to take the headaches away from data and empower education providers, just like Hammersmith and Fulham, to transform lives.
After such an inspirational day, I went home and instantly Googled 'adult ed: short courses near me'.
Watch the video here: