New Holex chair: Adult education needs to be more "innovative" in face of funding constraints

The new chair of the adult learning body says providers need to be more resourceful to "drive the agenda forward"

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Adult education and community learning providers need to become more "innovative" with the financial resources they are given, Pat Carrington, the new chair of Holex, has told Tes.

Ms Carrington, who is currently principal of City College Peterborough, said in her first interview as chair that the main challenge for adult education was to "have the funding to deliver that’s required", but that providers also needed to take a more resourceful and "holistic" approach to their budgets.

She said: "Funding can come in many different shapes and sizes. There is a history, I think, of recognising funding as being what comes [from] government directly in terms of the adult skills budget...it’s about saying, 'let’s take a holistic approach to the skills agenda', and let’s have a look at how, collaboratively, with different funding pots, with different income streams...we can actually drive this agenda forward."

“I think we can be very innovative as a sector and we can respond very quickly," Ms Carrington added. "For me, it’s about how we harness that and drive a direction where we grow the skills agenda locally with what resources we have. At any time we’re always welcome to have future funding but we know the constraints that are there on funding, so we need to be innovative in the ways that we actually make a difference with the skills agenda."

When asked if she felt the adult education provision needed to be more resourceful, Ms Carrington replied: "absolutely".

“No use in harping in the past”

Ms Carrington said she was “delighted” to be taking up the role as chair of Holex, and that despite challenges she remained upbeat about the future of adult education. 

“I’m always optimistic. For me, it’s about working with what you have to make things happen,” she said. “There is no use in harping in the past of what could have been. It’s a case of [saying] we are where we are, we have a very inspiring sector, we are very creative and we make things happen – so let’s share best practice together, let’s build on each other’s experiences and let’s make a difference.”

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