Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Apprenticeship and Skills,
Department for Education,
20 Great Smith Street,
26 March 2020
COVID-19 Requests – Keeping England Learning
Thank you for your letter of 23 March 2020 setting out the government’s response to COVID-19 in relation to the Adult Community Education (grant funded) providers and independent/ private providers. HOLEX members, who are in the main grant funded providers, are grateful to have confirmation that the ESFA will continue to make scheduled 16-19 and AEB monthly payments for the remainder of the year and that allocations for 2020/21 will have been confirmed by the end of March, and payments will be made as scheduled.
However, your letter is silent about whether the funding tolerances will remain and there is still no reassurance that where performance has dipped because of COVID-19, retrospective funding clawback will not be used.
We also note that support measures offered to general FE colleges in the SofS letter of 20 March have not been made available to Adult Community Education (ACE) grant funded providers in the same way.
ACE services up and down the country performed incredibly last week, ensuring their diverse learner base was fully supported. They have moved many learners to online learning, kept open centres for high needs and vulnerable learners, kept and expanded their creche facilities for key workers, expanded their online family learning facilities for schools to take part and redeployed staff to areas of high need. However, they need our help to carry on.
If the following could be implemented it would remove some of the burden and stress and allow them to continue to make a valuable offer to students, especially the new unemployed.
Please could you consider:
- Removing the burden: Cessation of unnecessary reporting requirements and performance management systems for assured providers.
- Budget certainty: Confirmation there will be no retrospective funding claims on providers for March to August.
- Emergency funding: Creation of an emergency fund to cover loss of fee income.
- Parity of support: Parity between grant funded providers so they all have the same level of support.
- Resources: Establish a Capital Technology fund to support providers in expanding online provision.
- Continuing with frameworks: Announce that existing Apprenticeship frameworks, where no replacement standard is in place, will be allowed to continue.
- Clarity over assessment: Clarity over Functional Skills, ESOL qualifications and assessments and other vocational qualifications.
- Planning: A skills analysis which reviews unemployment and the jobs available.
- Growth funding: Consideration be given to the establishment of new programmes of classroom and blended learning for the unemployed and young people who cannot get an apprenticeship in the autumn.
We appreciate how hard everyone is working in these unprecedented times and we are very grateful for the way Officials have worked with us and listened to our requests and concerns, but we do believe it is now time for action to secure the future of adult learners.
Pat Carrington MBE, Chair HOLEX