Spending review: Funding 'must follow the learner'

The government must 'be bold in coming forward with reforms to benefit employers and learners', says the AELP

Kate Parker

Government spending review: FE funding must follow learner, says the AELP

Funding within the further education system should follow the learner, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has said. 

Ahead of this afternoon’s spending review, the AELP has urged ministers to “be bold in coming forward with reforms to benefit employers and learners”.

However, when it comes to apprenticeships, the AELP says that the system needs “only some fine-tuning” after significant reform. It asks for apprenticeship funding to be put on a long-term sustainable footing, for levy payers to be able to use funding “freely”, and for a standalone budget for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 

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The AELP is also calling for “appropriate funding” for level 2 provision, greater investment in the adult education budget and a move towards a more responsive provider market. 

It asks ministers to “recognise the whole range of providers in the system, including the value of independent training providers (ITPs), and play on their individual strengths rather than trying to manufacture a system through institutional bias”.

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AELP managing director Jane Hickie said: “These priorities would be much the same if the pandemic hadn’t taken place, but Covid’s impact on jobs and young people have underlined the need to act now.

“The lockdown has starkly illustrated that learning can be delivered well in a classroom, a workplace, online, blended, full-time or part-time, according to the needs and circumstances of the individual. No one can claim that a particular way is the best way any more. Running away from the principle of the individual exercising choice over their preferred mode of learning is an outdated option.

“Success in reforming FE is intrinsically connected to the role that ITPs are allowed to play in any reform plans. In AELP’s view, the greater the role, the greater the chances of success, but the overriding principle should be that the size of that role is determined by the choices made by employers and individual learners and not by policymakers.”

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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