Merton Names New Adult Education Providers

Service is being contracted out as part of cost-cutting measures

Merton council has announced the providers of its adult education service following controversial cost-cutting plans to contract out the service.

It will commission South Thames College to provide the lion’s share of adult education courses in areas such as English for Speakers of Other Languages, English and Maths, Creative Arts, Modern Foreign Languages, Information Technology and vocational courses.

Employability skills such as CV writing and job interview techniques and family learning courses such as English and maths and healthy living, will be provided by Groundwork London, a charity that has been delivering accredited skills training in London for over 10 years, often to those who face the greatest barriers to employment.

Merton Council will now be working with the new providers to finalise the courses that will be on offer for the academic year 2016/17. The curriculum will be published in the late spring.

Learners will be able to meet the new providers and visit the South Thames College Merton campus at special drop-in sessions which will be organised over the coming months. The council said that discussions will also now take place with staff working for the current service.

The service has been contracted out as part of council plans to save £32m in the next four years. It also remains to be seen what will happen to the Whatley Avenue centre, where Merton Adult Education Service is currently based.

The council said it is continuing to work on securing a provider with expertise in delivering education to people with learning disabilities. It is also working on finalising the provider of apprenticeships. The council said it will to announce these providers shortly.

Merton Council’s cabinet member for education Councillor Martin Whelton said: “South Thames College and Groundwork London have been chosen for their individual areas of expertise and their ability to provide our adult learners with a comprehensive range of courses and great facilities. We look forward to confirming who will be the provider for adults with learning disabilities and apprenticeships.

"We will do everything possible to ensure the transition to the new providers is as smooth as possible. The new contract for adult learning in Merton will allow us to continue to provide a rounded and quality adult learning service within Merton that is good value for our taxpayers in the context of the reduced funding of £500,000 from the government’s Skills Funding Agency in the past five years.

“Providing a service for people with learning disabilities is a key part of the adult learning opportunities we want to create in Merton and so far we have received no suitable bids from providers. It is important we get the model right so that adults with different needs can benefit from a comprehensive adult education service. We are continuing to work on attracting bids from providers specialising in high quality education services for those with learning disabilities to ensure provision is in place.”

Sue Rimmer OBE, Principal and CEO of South Thames College, added: “South Thames College has a long history of providing adult courses to our local communities and we are looking forward to extending this provision in Merton.

“We will be finalising the course details with Merton Council over the next few weeks and welcoming our first cohort of Merton adult learners to the college in September.”

Graham Parry, Groundwork’s Director of Youth, Employment & Skills said: “We look forward to working with local partners in Merton and delivering a programme of high quality employability skills training and support to adults in the borough. Our expertise lies in supporting and enabling people to develop the skills confidence they need to achieve their personal goals and progress into sustainable employment.”

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March 9, 2016