Adults left out in the cold;Local authorities

12th March 1999 at 00:00
Sarah Cassidy and Nicolas Barnard report on the latest assessment of England's education authorities

DESPITE New Labour's commitment to lifelong learning, some local authorities have abandoned adult education.

Five urban authorities - Sheffield, Doncaster, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Wirral and Haringey in London - spent nothing on adult education in 199798, the Audit Commission found.

Elsewhere, spending ranged from almost pound;25 per head of adult population in the London boroughs of Sutton and Lambeth to just 3p in Darlington. Average spending in the capital was, at pound;10.29 per head, three times that in the rest of the country. Spending nationally fell 5 per cent on the previous year.

Take-up also varied widely. In Sutton, more than a quarter of all adults took a course, with nine out of ten completing it. But only four people in every 10,000 enrolled on a local authority course in Walsall in the West Midlands. Nationally, enrolments rose by 2 per cent.

The data include all adult education provided by local authorities, from basket-weaving and other recreational courses to vocational training and access courses such as computer studies or basic literacy.

Amanda Ariss, the commission's associate director of audit support, said:

"With the emphasis on lifelong learning it raises questions of whether people in some areas will be able to take part."

Inclusive society? 32-35

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