Don't rush protection plan

It is heartening to read ("Plan to protect London colleges", FE Focus, Aug 11) that the Learning and Skills Council in London is calling for a "grown up" conversation about our "long established, good institutions, much loved by learners". And that it wants to do what it can to protect these four extraordinary "specially designated institutions" (Mary Ward, City Lit, Working Men's and Morley), from the impact of the cuts currently experienced across adult education.

Students, staff and governors at Mary Ward Centre are equally determined to protect the provision of the distinctive learning opportunities needed by Londoners. This is what the Mary Ward Settlement was set up to do over 100 years ago and has been judged excellent at doing ever since.

But one size will not fit all. In considering the future of the four SDIs (and other adult education providers), we will need to focus and deepen our conversations about London's learners themselves and how each provider can best meet their complex and various educational, social and economic needs.

It's essential that we all avoid superficial conclusions or hasty actions which could produce any more of the "unintended negative consequences", now commonly acknowledged to have resulted from recent funding priorities.

Ceri Williams


Mary Ward Centre

42 Queen Sq

London WC1N 3AQ

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