Change is constant

Keeping ahead of all the changes in our sector can feel like a never-ending challenge.  One of these key changes is the devolvement of adult education funding to combined authorities. It now seems to be picking up some pace in some areas, yet many questions remain unanswered.

Director of Business Development and our resident funding nerd, Paul Saunders, explains the situation in London and Manchester.

Greater London Authority

The Greater London Authority will be a delegated authority with £311 million adult funding to manage.  That’s a third of the current national Adult Education Budget (AEB) pot and the largest of all devolved areas so all eyes are on the London mayor’s office.

It appears that FE Colleges and London councils will be protected with AEB being grant funded without the need of tendering.  It is uncertain whether they will be able to tender for an additional AEB on top of the grant funded allocation.  Taking this into account £130 million of AEB will be procured.  It will be split into two lots with 75% going towards to supporting unemployed adults with the remaining to upskilling existing London workers.

You can read more about the GLA’s plans and how to access the procurement documents on the Greater London Assembly – Adult Education Budget webpage.

Transport for London (TfL) is managing the procurement via the ProContract portal.

Outcome measures have been mooted as part of the GLA AEB requirements and we shall have to wait and see the detail of this.  For those of you familiar with delivering ESF contracts, outcomes measures are nothing new.  This doesn’t remove the need for qualifications and/or units as they provide a structured framework towards the learners’ progression outcome.

Originally the tender documents should have been available on Friday 12th October which has been updated to week commencing the 22nd October, but still no sign at the time of writing this on Friday 26th.  The contracts are planned to be awarded in April 2019 ready for delivery in August 2019.

UPDATE: The tender documents have been published, and Paul takes a first glance through them here.

Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester released its AEB commissioning draft this week and they have some similar plans to London.  FE Colleges and local authorities will be grant funded leaving £20 million out of the £81 million AEB for contracts.  These contracts will initially only be for one year with the option to extend by a further two years; I suspect based on how the provider performs.  The contracts will be split in two with the majority supporting unemployed learners.  There is an additional £5 million for community grants.

The commissioning draft is very explicit that the AEB will support Greater Manchester residents, so I expect learner eligibility will be based on a learner’s home postcode rather than the delivery location.  It is also clear they want local providers delivering to local people and this will impact any out of area providers who currently deliver in Greater Manchester as primes or as sub-contractors.

There is still some detail to be confirmed but Greater Manchester want to utilise the AEB to;

  • fully fund learners up to and including first Level 2, where the cost of co-funded learning would be a barrier.
  • equip learners with all the skills they need to progress, using a mixture of regulated, non-regulated, and entitlement provision, as well as units at higher-levels (Level 3/4).
  • be flexible around licences to practise (LtP) and work experience where these are needed to support progression into higher level learning, employment or an apprenticeship.

you can register your interest on the ProContract procurement portal to find out more about the GM plans.

Supporting You

If you are planning to respond to any of the adult devolved funding contracts, we have an extensive range of qualifications and units with a flexible approach to assessment to support adult learners. Our Business Development team would be happy to discuss plans and help you shape a programme that meets the needs of your learners and your funding contract.