FE commissioner's warning over adult education devolution plans

Richard Atkins says in order to compete in a global market place, adult education provision needs some national direction

George Ryan

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The FE commissioner has said plans to devolve the adult education budget must not lead to a fractured system across England.

Richard Atkins was giving evidence to the House of Lords economic committee on Tuesday which was looking at questions of funding in further education.

He said: “I would say you need really strong local and regional stakeholding but you don’t need lots of different systems all over England for things like qualifications, funding, inspection, intervention. I think there is a whole load of issues that would need to remain national.

Eight devolved adult education budgets

“You need very very strong stakeholder involvement, with local authorities and combined authorities a big part of that, as are employer groups. But in a global marketplace, we couldn’t have entirely different systems operating, I would suggest, all over England.”

The government plans to devolve the adult education budget to several combined authority areas from 2019, a year later than planned.

These areas are Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City, London, Sheffield City, Tees Valley, West Midlands, and the West of England. 

Northern Powerhouse

Last week the Northern Powerhouse Partnership recommended handing over the 16-18 vocational education budget to Northern mayors as part of its vision to raise educational attainment.

In response to a written question in parliament, skills minister Anne Milton said yesterday the DfE had no further plans to devolve other areas of skills provision other than the devolution of the adult education budget in 2019-20.

She added: “We recognise the importance of maintaining a consistently high quality 16- to 19-year-old education system to help promote social mobility.

“In addition, the department is working collaboratively with local areas to ensure people can gain the skills that meet both local and national needs including setting up Skills Advisory Panels to further inform local areas about the need for skills.”



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George Ryan

George Ryan

George Ryan is a further education reporter for tes

Find me on Twitter @GeorgeMRyan

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