Levelling up Adult Community Education – What Does the Data Tell Us?

This report, commissioned by Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL) reviews what has been articulated in recently published reviews on Adult Community Education and provides a detailed examination of the unpublished Individualised Learner Record base data collected by the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

The report sets out the priority themes for adult education and describes the adult community education landscape in England, including student demographics, highlights delivery shortfalls and geographical hotspots and establishes the level of investment required to ensure the levelling up agenda improves the lives of adults with low and intermediate skills.

The project has also provided a tool for ACE services/centres and colleges to benchmark themselves and support their own local levelling-up agendas and suggests how adult
community education could support the acceleration of the post-Covid-19 recovery plan.

Download the report

Below is an extract of some of the key findings and recommendations made in the report for Government

Key findings

Through this work we have been able to:

  • – Pinpoint the 10,000 places from which adult education is delivered;
  • – Determine where in England there is little adult education offered;
  • – Report on where there is a delivery imbalance;
  • – Demonstrate that the public pound does go to learners from the most deprived areas of England;
  • – Detail the initial impact of Covid-19 on adult education learners;
  • – Identify the need for a new annual injection of £5.2 billion to fund a basic and intermediate skills levelling-up plan.

Recommendations for Government

Develop in consultation with the sector a government wide Levelling-Up Lifelong Learning Plan that highlights how learning new skills as an adult supports the economy, improves productivity, facilitates integration and improves personal wellbeing. This strategy should become the framework for devolution of skills and education budgets and support for the post Covid-19 recovery.

  1. Underpin this plan with new government-wide strategies for basic skills including ESOL, health and wellbeing, digital and skills retraining.
  2. Ensure there is an adult education and skills component as an integral part of all new employment initiatives.
  3. Establish a branded adult education centre in every town. Planning rules should promote multi-use community centres which can be used as outreach posts for adult education.
  4. As well as these main centres, create a network of adult education centres which are co-located with other services, for example, adult education with libraries and the arts, social housing and learning centres, early years settings for family learning and schools and colleges for evening adult education classes.
  5. Give access to capital funding from the new DfE capital fund to adult education providers and use new initiatives such as Levelling Up Communities (LUC).
  6. DfE should protect the future delivery infrastructure by providing assurance that adult community education providers’ base allocation for 2021/22 will be at 2019/20 levels.
  7. Ensure adult learners have access to any new digital infrastructure for communities and education.
  8. Rapidly establish a support programme for industries seriously impacted by Covid-19 such as hospitality and the arts. Allow furloughed and redundant workers to up their skills levels by taking subject-related master classes to improve their digital skills, and, where necessary, prioritise retraining.
  9. ACE providers, via their Local Authority, should become the funding vehicle for the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).
  10. DfE, via the Education & Training Foundation (ETF), should support the ACE sector by providing development funding for leadership training and CPD for all those who work in the sector.
  11. DfE should support levelling up by rebalancing spend by prioritising basic and Level 2 adult education, injecting £5.2 billion into the system and providing a 10-year budget that breaks the cycle of low skills, which in turn will pay for itself through a boost in productivity.
  12. Facilitate adult education growth by moving funding from those providers who find recruiting adults problematic to those who are can.
  13. Further work should be done by DfE on adult education data, which should be analysed and made public by DfE at least annually.
  14. Develop new official measures to understand and track the economic and social contribution of adult community education and report on these annually alongside the Longitudinal Education Outcome data.
  15. Collect and manage comprehensive and comparable data from government departments about what funding goes where, and what outcomes are delivered.

Download the report