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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting:  14 July, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Adult Services

                                                                                                                   

Adult Community Learning Service Restructure

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To propose a new staffing structure for the Adult Community Learning (ACL) Service reflecting changing policy priorities and reductions in funding, that allow the Service to continue to provide:

·           a targeted programme of learning to help support individuals and families to improve their skills and employment prospects;

·           a programme of Leisure & Wellbeing Learning that can be grown and developed through a sustainable cost recovery model;

·           tailored learning interventions to support other Welsh Government priority programmes such as Communities First, Flying Start and Families First;

·           support the Voluntary Sector with a programme of learning for volunteers; and

·           to ensure that the ACL Service is lean and efficient in order that it can sustain itself through the Central Government funding cuts and develop a progressive learning offer for the future.

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet approve the reconfiguration of the Adult Community Learning Service as set out in the report in order to comply with Estyn recommendations.

2.         That the report be referred to Scrutiny Committee [Lifelong Learning] for information.

3.         That staff members and relevant Trade Unions be consulted as a matter of urgency and that any adverse comments be reported to Cabinet as soon as practicable.

4.         That Cabinet receive updates on the operation of the Service on a termly basis for at least one year.

5.         That any proposed changes to reconfiguration of the service, premises and delivery models be report to Cabinet for approval before being implemented.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         The service must be reconfigured to adapt to financial challenges and to ensure the service is up to the standards expected by the Estyn Inspectors on their revisit in the Autumn of 2014.

2.         To ensure all members are aware of the impact of changes and the possible effects on learners and staff.

3.         To ensure Trade Unions are aware of the reasons for the change to the service and are able to collaborate with the Adult Services manager to mitigate effects on staff.

4.         To enable Cabinet to monitor the progress of the service post reconfiguration and to ensure that there is positive and proactive progress in meeting Estyn recommendations and expectations in the future.

5.         To ensure Cabinet is aware and in support of any change to the reconfiguration or changes to delivery premises before any further change is implemented.

Background

2.         The Welsh Government's "Delivering Community Learning for Wales" Policy document (Appendix 1) clearly identifies the priority groups for the ACL grant. These are: 'anyone aged 16 and above accessing an ACL Basic Skills and /or ESOL programme, including contextualised basic skills and citizenship courses, those who are not currently in education, employment or training and are in receipt of benefits or support (excluding state retirement pension) and those aged 50 plus who are not in full time employment'.

3.         Furthermore, it highlights the requirement to develop outcomes and interventions to support those priority groups into sustained education, employment and training. The purpose of the WG grant funding is to support the delivery of the targeted outcomes set out in the policy and this should now become the core business of the ACL service.

4.         The Adult Community Learning Service delivers Basic/Essential Skills (Numeracy Literacy & ITC) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) funded by Cardiff and Vale College (CAVC) through a franchise agreement. This funding covers the cost of tuition, qualification/ accreditation fees, hire of premises, crèche facilities and the management of the learning programme. Based at the Barry Open Learning Centre this strand of the service provides post 16 learners the opportunity to improve their skills for everyday life and increase their employment prospects.

5.         To meet Welsh Government requirements and for the ACL Service to be effective in addressing the recommendations of the February 2013 Estyn Inspection of the Vale's Adult Community Learning Partnership, it is essential that an outcome-based service delivery model is developed. The service must focus resources on subsidising the learning offered to the priority groups identified by the Welsh Government's Adult Community Learning Policy. 

6.         The Service has also developed a proactive and vibrant Leisure, Wellbeing and Arts Programme which is very popular across the Vale. The leisure learning offer can no longer be subsidised with the Welsh Government grant. Consideration has been given to an operational solution which does not diminish leisure learning services but also ensures the appropriate priority is given to targeted work.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         The wider benefits of ACL to community wellbeing are well documented.  In order to maintain a universal learning offer the ACL service must build on the success of its current leisure learning offer and develop a sustainable full cost recovery delivery model.

8.         The targeted provision will be planned in partnership with relevant stakeholder organisations and representation from the priority groups to ensure that it addresses the needs of learners from those groups.  Delivery will be planned to ensure that suitable progression routes and learning stepping stones will be in place to guide learners from initial engagement.  This will be achieved by learning taster sessions, leading to accredited courses and then into further education and/or employment, helping students to move out of poverty. This provision will for the most part be free to learners identified as being from the priority groups.

9.         Establishing two separate and distinct learning offers ensures that the leisure strand of the service would not form part of the externally, measured service.  This will be achieved by removing the non-priority learners from the data count and would also remove the requirement for "leisure learners," to complete complex government specification enrolment forms. New class fees and concessions were agreed by Cabinet on 16th June 2014.  Accreditation for this type of learning would be optional and would be subject to a further fee.  An internal quality monitoring cycle would ensure that standards are maintained and that the valuable soft outcomes and learner achievements are not lost.

10.      Several other local authorities in Wales have already adopted this two strand delivery approach with the full backing of Welsh Government and Estyn. The further education sector has been operating this type of learning model for a number of years with many colleges utilising commercial courses to subsidise adult basic education learning.

11.      The service will do all that it can to ensure that there is provision available for all learners including those who may not be within the priority groups but cannot afford  to access the leisure provision.  A number of short (5-10 week)  courses will be offered which will allow progression opportunities for current learners and a wide range of learning opportunities will be offered in conjunction with a range of partners. The ACL service will also encourage the development of learning clubs and ensure self-funded local groups are well supported. The service will continue to work closely with the third sector.

12.      To ensure the service is effectively managed and that external and internal grant criteria are met, current management team roles in the service need to be reviewed.  The service would place an increased emphasis on targeted and inclusion services.  The Adult Community Learning Manager will monitor progress of both service programmes, ensuring quality standards are applied across the services, outcome agreements are met and that key performance targets are attained.

13.      There are currently four substantive managers or area development workers in the service and it is expected that under the new programmes specific roles would need to be created. To effectively respond and to realise the strategic objectives of Welsh Government and those of the council  a reconfiguration of the service establishment, working arrangements, staff roles and responsibilities will need to be progressed and  consulted upon. The specific details on the existing and proposed structure and associated information are appended to the Part 2 report.

14.      It is proposed that the service discontinues the provision of Welsh Government funded courses from Barry and St Cyres Comprehensive Schools which would reduce rental costs significantly.  A review of the rental and tutor costs of such courses compared to the fees paid by learners shows that these courses are not cost effective and are therefore unviable. It may, however, prove feasible to develop a cost recovery learning programme for the new Penarth Learning Community development. The service will also need to make far more use of existing community facilities such as Libraries, Jobcentres and Community Centres etc. to ensure that it can engage effectively with priority learners within familiar settings.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

15.      With effect from the academic year 2014/15 (1st September 2014), the WG ACL grant of £378,353 will be reduced by £141,882 (37.5%) and franchise funding of £195,300 from Cardiff and the Vale College will be reduced by £68,275 resulting in a total reduction in funding of £210,157. Notification has been received from Welsh Government of the likelihood of a further 10% cut in grant funding from the academic year 2015/16 which equates to £23,647.

16.      If approved, the proposals would generate estimated savings of £172,987 leaving a shortfall of £23,401in the financial 2014/15, increasing by £37,416 to £60,817 in financial year 2015/16. These shortfalls can be met from an ACL provision set aside for this purpose in each of these financial years.  However, further work will be undertaken to ensure that the full saving requirement is met. The service is currently working with Cardiff Council to identify opportunities to rationalise service delivery through collaboration.

17.      Any transitional costs of progressing the restructure will initially be met from existing budgetary reserve provisions.

18.      Subject to the approval by Members of the recommendations within this report and those set out within the Part 2 report and supporting appendices, these proposals will form the basis of an immediate consultation exercise with the relevant trade unions and staff.

19.      As part of the consultation exercise the Director we will seek to progress the proposals having regard to the responses received during the process of the consultation  to mitigate where possible adverse employment implications within the Service in accordance with the Statutory provisions and relevant council policies and procedures

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

20.      The reconfiguration of the service into two programmes would enable universal services to be sustained whilst developing more targeted provision as required by the WG.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

21.      The restructuring process will involve employment law implications.  The process is being undertaken with input from Human Resources.  Employment Law advice will be taken as and when necessary.

Crime and Disorder Implications

22.      Priority learners will include access to learning by ex-offenders and members of the community who have family learning or parenting orders.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

23.      The reconfiguration of the service into two distinct and unique learning offers will ensure that resources are targeted at priority learners and will also enable a wide range of learning opportunities to be made available to other learners.

24.      An Equalities Impact Scoping Exercise and a full Impact Assessment has been carried out (Refer to Appendix 2 and Appendix 3). Inevitably, any change in service provision will have implications which will vary across protected groups. On the basis of the information available, the Equality Impact Assessment, identifies both the benefits and adverse implications of these proposals and the corresponding mitigating actions.

Corporate/Service Objectives

25.      This report addresses Objective 2 of the Learning and Skills Service Plan 2014/18:

To meet the needs of learners by providing a range of suitable and accessible learning opportunities

Policy Framework and Budget

26.      This is a matter for Executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27.      Consultation will be carried out with the relevant Trade Unions and staff. Consultation has been carried out with stakeholders on the curriculum and service delivery options.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

28.      Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

Phil Southard, Adult Community Learning Manager

 

Officers Consulted

Andrew Borsden, Lead officer Youth and Community Learning

Paula Ham, Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

Reuben Bergman, Head of Human Resources

Evelyn Morgan, Employment Lawyer  

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Director of Learning and Skills

 

 

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