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Agenda Item No. 11

 

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING): 08 SEPTEMBER, 2014

 

REFERENCE FROM CABINET:  14 JULY, 2014

 

C2393        ADULT COMMUNITY LEARNING SERVICE RESTRUCTURE (AS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – LIFELONG LEARNING) –

 

Cabinet were apprised of a new proposed staffing structure for the Adult Community Learning (ACL) Service reflecting changing policy priorities and reductions in funding.

 

The Welsh Government's "Delivering Community Learning for Wales" Policy document attached at Appendix 1 to the report clearly identified the priority groups for the ACL grant. These were: '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 were in receipt of benefits or support (excluding state retirement pension) and those aged 50 plus who were not in full time employment'.

 

Furthermore, it highlighted 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 was to support the delivery of the targeted outcomes set out in the policy and this should become the core business of the ACL service.

 

The Adult Community Learning Service delivered 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 covered the cost of tuition, qualification/ accreditation fees, hire of premises, creche facilities and the management of the learning programme. Based at the Barry Open Learning Centre this strand of the service provided post 16 learners the opportunity to improve their skills for everyday life and increase their employment prospects.

 

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 was essential that an outcome-based service delivery model was 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. 

 

The wider benefits of ACL to community wellbeing were 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.

 

The targeted provision would be planned in partnership with relevant stakeholder organisations and representation from the priority groups to ensure that it addressed the needs of learners from those groups.  Delivery would be planned to ensure that suitable progression routes and learning stepping stones would be in place to guide learners from initial engagement.  This would 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 would for the most part be free to learners identified as being from the priority groups. 

 

Establishing two separate and distinct learning offers ensured that the leisure strand of the service would not form part of the externally, measured service.  Several other local authorities in Wales had already adopted this two strand delivery approach with the full backing of Welsh Government and Estyn. The further education sector had been operating this type of learning model for a number of years with many colleges utilising commercial courses to subsidise adult basic education learning.

 

A number of short (5-10 week)  courses would be offered which would allow progression opportunities for current learners and a wide range of learning opportunities would be offered in conjunction with a range of partners. The ACL service would also encourage the development of learning clubs and ensure self-funded local groups were well supported. The service would continue to work closely with the third sector. 

 

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

 

There were currently four substantive managers or area development workers in the service and it was 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 would need to be progressed and consulted upon. The specific details on the existing and proposed structure and associated information were appended to the Part 2 report.

 

It was proposed that the service discontinued 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 showed that these courses were not cost effective and were therefore unviable.

 

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

 

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

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the contents of the report be noted and be considered with the Part II report on this matter later on in the agenda.

 

Reason for decision

 

To note the contents of the report.

 

Attached as Appendix – Report to Cabinet – 14 July, 2014

 

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