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Adult Education

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on recent changes in the (a) funding and (b) number of adult education courses, with particular reference to (i) basic skills courses, (ii) other vocational courses and (iii) non-vocational and community education. (79888)

Our strategic priorities for adult learning which I announced on 21 October 2005 are to: support adults who lack basic skills or the platform of skills for employability; ensure a wide range of opportunities at level 3; and, ensure the continued availability of a wide range of opportunities for personal and community development (PCDL). I reaffirmed our commitment to safeguard the funding for PCDL in mainstream further education and local authority funded adult education (adult and community learning) with a budget of £210 million in 2006/07.

Overall we have increased further education funding nationally by around £2.5 billion since 1997— equivalent to 48 per cent. in real terms. Our investment in adult learning will remain broadly stable at £2.9 billion but the nature of provision will change. Colleges will provide more publicly funded long courses to meet national skills demands including a new free entitlement to a first full level 3 qualification for young adults for which we are making available new funds of £25 million. Post-16 providers, including colleges, will provide around 3.5 million adult places in 2007/08, a reduction of around 6 per cent. compared to now.