What is the key to ACE success?

Strong leadership and high levels of scrutiny are key factors in why ACE services are rated so highly by Ofsted, research finds

Kate Parker

Adult and community education, ACE, FETL, Further education trust for leadership, Dame Ruth Silver

Having consistent government policy and a strong leadership team are two of the key factors in the success of adult community education (ACE) providers, according to new research.  

Around 600,000 learners are trained in ACE annually, and, according to the research by the Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL), 88 per cent of them were rated good or outstanding by Ofsted in 2018.

To try to allow the education sector to learn from this success, FETL, together with adult education body HOLEX, is today publishing a review trying to shed light on what exactly made ACE services a quality leader.  



Considering ACE services provided in 53 councils, and  in-depth interviews, the research highlights four key areas: 

  1. Having a consistent government policy approach for community learning that has allowed services to develop and embed good practice;

  2. the enhanced scrutiny role of local authorities elected members and related governance boards;

  3. the actions and behaviour of leaders and managers, and the example they set;

  4. the small size of many of the services – which allows them to be agile – and in turn supports the local structure and ensures individual student needs are met. 

It also found that the determination and drive of SLTs in making sure their visions and values became the culture and ethos of their staff was a driver to success. 

“Not for the first time, adult community education points the way ahead,” said Dame Ruth Silver, president of FETL. 

“Adult community education is one of the most resilient and creative parts of the education system. It has survived swinging cuts to its public support, yet it continues to make its vital contribution to the social, civic and economic wellbeing of our communities, retaining its values and mission in spite of changing policy agendas and the hollowing out of local authority funding over the past decade.”

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

headshot KP

Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a schools and colleges content producer.

Find me on Twitter @KateParkerTes

Latest stories

New headteachers - here are 9 things you need to know

Headteacher wellbeing and sources of 'streth'

Former headteacher Chris McDermott set out to find out the true causes of leader stress and support – and in doing so coined a whole new term, as he explains here
Chris McDermott 2 Dec 2021
Transdisciplinary learning: how to embed it in your school

Why you need a transdisciplinary curriculum

At the Aspirations Academies, six hours a week are dedicated to applied transdisciplinary learning - but how does it work? And should you apply something similar at your school?
Steve Kenning 2 Dec 2021
Expert governors can now come and help schools and trusts

Why schools and trusts can now hire 'expert governors'

Providing access to expert governors for struggling settings - or those willing to pay £500 a day for their insights - could have a huge benefit across education, claims the National Governance Association
Emily Attwood 2 Dec 2021