Top

Top

Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 6 October, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Adult Services

Adult Community Learning Service Restructure

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To report on the feedback from the consultation on the proposed 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;

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

·           make 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

·           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.

2.         To agree the restructure of the service.

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet approve the reconfiguration of the Adult Community Learning Service.

2.         That Cabinet receive updates on the operation of the Service on a regular basis.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         The service must be reconfigured to adapt to financial challenges and to ensure the service meets the standards expected by Estyn as no major objections or alternative suggestions to the restructure have been raised during the consultation.

2.         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.

Background

3.         The Welsh Government's "Delivering Community Learning for Wales" Policy document 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'.

4.         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.

5.         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.

6.         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. 

7.         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

8.         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.

9.         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.

10.      Cabinet considered proposals to re-structure the service on 14th July 2014 and approved the recommendation to commence consultation. The proposed restructure (Appendix 1) if implemented would result in the following changes.

·           The ACL current FTE staffing level will be reduced from 29.08 to 25.29 FTE.

·           This will include a reduction the number of Managers/Area Development officers    from four to three with new job descriptions that reflect the changes to service delivery.

·           One of the remaining Area Development Officers will be funded by Cardiff City Council's  ACL Service with a remit to increase partnership working opportunities and realise further efficiency savings.

·           A reduction in the part time ACL tutor pool resulting in a smaller more professionalised tutor team working more hours with appropriate professional development opportunities.  

·           Fewer part time administrative posts with some posts being combined and regraded.

·           The removal of the Assistant Area Development Officer posts in line with the reduction in delivery premises.

 

11.      The consultation response was in general very positive with some constructive suggestions that have been taken on board and will certainly influence longer term thinking. There were understandably a few concerns regarding both the impact on learners and individual job roles. A great deal of thought had been given to these matters during the planning of the restructure enabling reasoned and reassuring responses to be provided. The issues raised during the consultation and the response provided to staff is shown in Appendix 2

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

12.      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.

13.      If approved, the proposals would generate estimated savings of £172,987 in a full year, leaving a shortfall of £23,401in the financial 2014/15, increasing by £37,416 to £60,817 in financial year 2015/16. The 2014/15 shortfall was based on the reorganisation commencing from 1st September 2014, so this will now increase slightly.  However the overall shortfall can be met from an ACL fund set aside for this purpose and if required any additional funding will be identified from other areas of the service.  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.

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

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

15.      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)

16.      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

17.      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)

18.      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.

19.      An Equalities Impact Scoping Exercise and a full Impact Assessment has been carried out. 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. This was considered by Cabinet in July.

Corporate/Service Objectives

20.      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

21.      This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

22.      Consultation has been 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

23.      Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

24.       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

Adrian Unsworth, Operational Manager, Human Resources

Evelyn Morgan, Employment Lawyer  

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Director of Learning and Skills

 

 

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook