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In the News

AEB contracts extended as tender results delayed further

The delay to results for the Adult Education Budget (AEB) tender will last until the end of July, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has said this afternoon. Independent learning providers had been told last October that they would need to re-tender for around £110m of the Adult Education Budget for 2017/18. The tender took place between January and February of this year, with the expectation the results would be shared on the 19 May.  Since then, providers have been desperate to know if they will have any funding from August. The ESFA finally changed their “in due course” response this afternoon, saying that tender results will now be shared with applicants “at the end of July”, and in the meantime 2016/17 contracts will be extended “for a three-month period, until 31st October 2017.” The ESFA message to relevant providers said in full: “Following our earlier messages issued on 9th May and 13th June regarding the impact of the General Election on our planned communications, please note that notifications of contract award will now be made at the end July 2017. “As a result, the ESFA will now be extending the existing 2016/2017 contracts for Adult Education Budget (AEB) services for a three-month period,...

Area review ignored as central London set for second mega-college merger

A London college that had been set for a ground-breaking partnership with an adult learning provider has announced plans for an alternative merger. Kensington and Chelsea College emerged from the central London area review with a recommendation to merge with City Literary Institute, a specialist designated institution. But today (June 28) the college announced it plans to join forces with Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College instead, with a planned merger date of 2018. Michelle Sutton, interim principal at KCC, described the college’s new partner as “very strong, well-respected and successful”. “This announcement is the result of a long and careful process to ensure the best future for students of all ages in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, ensuring good provision in the borough while at the same time drawing on the resources of a larger organisation,” she said. Garry Phillips, EHWLC principal, said he was “truly excited” about the benefits of the merger for “both students and businesses in the area”. The opportunities offered by the merged colleges “will prepare students for the very best chance of career success, help secure the future of further education across London and make a significant contribution to the economic development...

Recipe for confusion concern as IfA seeks up to 150 expert advisers

A call for up to 150 industry experts to join new Institute for Apprenticeships advisory panels, has prompted concerns over a lack of “joined up decisions” with similar bodies planned for technical education. Adverts seeking unpaid panel members to join 15 “prestigious employer-led groups” to help shape the future of the apprenticeship programme were posted by the IfA on Friday (June 23). It aims to recruit “up to 150” industry experts to form the panels that will help to “ensure the quality of apprenticeships”. But FE Week has learned that the IfA panels are separate from those being set up by the Department for Education to advise on T-levels – even though the 15 occupational routes are the same. They advertised for more than 100 paid panel members for these new bodies in January. Now Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, has warned that that the situation is “a recipe for a lack of joined up decisions and inconsistent outcomes, and further evidence of potential divergence rather than coherence”. “AELP fully supports the government’s desire to have a coherent approach to high quality skills, but struggle to see any indication of this in the...

Learndirect : One in ten staff could face redundancy at nation’s largest provider

The nation’s largest training provider is consulting on a new wave of redundancies – with its chief executive admitting around one in 10 staff could be affected. Learndirect employees were told the devastating news yesterday. It is understood that hundreds of for example sales and operational staff working on apprenticeships, employment related services, European Social Fund, and adult education contracts could be affected. When asked about this, Andy Palmer, group chief executive, told FE Week this morning: “We are in a consultation process. Approximately 10 per cent of the workforce could be affected.” He added: “As a result of uncertainty relating to the outcome of the adult education budget procurement process, and a business decision to focus on levy-only apprenticeship delivery in the future, Learndirect Ltd and Learndirect Apprenticeships Ltd have initiated a restructuring programme. “Sadly this will mean some colleagues will leave the two businesses in the coming months. “During this time our focus is on continuing to meet the needs of our thousands of learners, apprentices and employers, and we do so with the full support of our funders and other partners.” It comes at a troubled time for Learndirect, after FE Week reported on a first wave...