Collab Group


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Adult Education Budget and Devolution in England

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the Adult Education Budget in England and how the introduction of devolution to some English regions will impact further education providers.

This paper is the product of interviews with Collab Group Principals from devolved and non-devolved regions and with officials from Combined Authority areas. The core findings are:

  1. Many of the interviewees identified positive aspects emerging from devolution, including the potential for more significant funding flexibility and opportunities to strengthen local partnerships and increase collaboration.

  2. Despite the positive effects in devolved regions, there were concerns about the knock-on effect that devolution could have on non-devolved areas. There is an emerging concern that the changes in funding could lead to a two-tiered system for adult education in England. Provision in devolved regions has become more streamlined, generally focussing on giving preference to local providers. These developments have negatively impacted some providers who have historically delivered provision into combined authority areas from outside.

  3. Interviewees were also concerned about the capacity of some combined authority areas to manage devolved funding, with some highlighting concerns that bureaucracy and administration may divert funding from front-line teaching and learning.

  4. During the interviews, we encountered a broad range of dissatisfaction with existing ESFA rules for funding national adult education provision. We are calling for the ESFA offer more flexibilities in non-devolved areas to avoid a two-tiered system.