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Colleges say 'swathe of cuts' threatens adult education

(38 Posts)
Gracesgran Wed 25-Mar-15 08:54:27

So after 21 you could no longer have the opportunity to improve your career? What are the government thinking?

Martin Doel, the AoC's chief executive, said the cuts "could mean an end to the vital courses that provide skilled employees for the workforce, such as nurses and social care workers".

"Cumulative cuts of this magnitude are extremely difficult to absorb, and mean that those colleges and other providers who have a strong focus on adult learners may either go out of business or be forced to re-focus their attention on younger, pre-19 students."

"Once they hit 21 there won't be any support left.

"That is not a great scenario for a society in which people are living longer and wanting to contribute to society and work longer too."

I am afraid in many areas this is the start of what the next five years could bring.

Jane10 Wed 25-Mar-15 09:04:27

Might this mean that Universities could step in and increase their range of more practical courses? Distance learning? Different ways of acquiring the education that people need beyond going to a set location? I'm thinking out loud here. Is this a response to greater use of internet style courses? I certainly noticed a major push towards online learning in my last few years in the NHS.
The colleges have a lot to lose but maybe they haven't moved with the times? There's no way there wont be education available for adults after 19 it just could be delivered in different ways. I'm not for or against either view. I've accessed a huge variety of adult education over the years up to and beyond post graduate level and have experienced a wide variety of delivery methods. I have to say that access to the internet has massively increased my options.

Lilygran Wed 25-Mar-15 09:20:10

Jane colleges are the almost totally ignored success story of education. Most policy-makers have never had any direct experience of colleges. They and their children go to school, then university. Colleges, as someone said, are the poor cousin where poor people go.

Lilygran Wed 25-Mar-15 09:22:40

And recent governments have all decided that for poor people, 'education' actually means vocational training, English language, literacy and numeracy and a bit of IT.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 25-Mar-15 09:27:32

But, aren't we talking about courses for the over 21s? The funding will still be there for further education.

Seems reasonable to me. As Jane says, there are now courses available on the internet. The cuts have to be somewhere. There is no money tree.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 25-Mar-15 09:28:48

Oh that's not true Lillygran. There is still wide ranging education available at secondary schools.

annodomini Wed 25-Mar-15 09:29:21

The last part of my career in FE was teaching Access students. These were able people who, for one reason or another, had missed out at school. They had enormous enthusiasm for education and were, for the most part, very well read - a pleasure to teach. On my last day at college, one of our former students arrived to tell us that he had just gained a first class degree in psychology - this, in spite of being dyslexic. Even if this had been our only successful student it would have been a perfect argument for retaining Access courses, but there were many others.If this lifeline is withdrawn from the over-21s, there will be a terrible waste of talent, ability and enthusiasm. A dreadful false economy.

soontobe Wed 25-Mar-15 09:33:16

That is awful.

And parents who currently home educate, and say that learning can be done at any age, may find it all particularly difficut.

soontobe Wed 25-Mar-15 09:35:43

Where does that idea come from Lilygran?

grannyactivist Wed 25-Mar-15 09:36:14

Having had no choice but to leave school at the age of fifteen the Access course at my local college was my only option of getting back into education some years later. Without it I can't see how I would have had the opportunity to go on to university. I feel sad that for those people like me, whose educational opportunities when young are blighted by their home situations, there will be fewer options for continued learning.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 25-Mar-15 09:36:16

But, to be fair, today's children are mostly offered a good education, along with good pastoral and career advice, at school.

Maybe some adults who did not take full advantage of education in their youth, could be welcomed back into the classroom along with the sixth formers. They could then get the necessary preliminary qualifications to enable them to go onto the online courses. (With telephone back-up)

Lilygran Wed 25-Mar-15 09:48:31

anno and grannya make the same important point. And jingl, may be true for many but not for all. Just dreadfully shortsighted to cut the sector with most and most varied students, doing the widest variety of courses, at all levels and most economically.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 25-Mar-15 09:51:12

But - if the money just isn't there? Online courses?

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 25-Mar-15 09:53:07

What do people get from going to college in person rather than learning from a computer, books, and occasional telephone mentoring?

Lilygran Wed 25-Mar-15 09:56:46

Online courses cost money as well! The material has to be designed by someone and kept up-to-date and the website has to be maintained, the work done by students has to be marked and discussed. And the learner has to have some IT expertise and confidence, access to the Internet and a computer. Some parts of the UK still can't get access to the Internet!

rosequartz Wed 25-Mar-15 10:00:06

The picture accompanying the article shows a very elderly person - so is it really necessary for the Government to be funding adult education lessons for those in their 70s and 80s?
(ducks for cover)

This would seem to be a politically biased article and perhaps a complete rationalisation of further education is needed to sort out what this country needs for the future of both young people and the country.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 25-Mar-15 10:07:46

But cheaper surely than college courses where a building and staff have to be maintained in addition to the make-up of the course itself?

Bez Wed 25-Mar-15 10:32:03

I personally think that 'going' to a college to study keeps people far more focused and also I. So beneficial in many ways - debating the subject, hearing the views and ideas of others. To be studying alone just in front of a screen would be nothing like as good or comprehensive. Even people working at home because they can do all on line is not proving beneficial to all of them. What it costs in lost opportunities and also for people who cannot afford the latest equipment to down load the necessary paperwork etc - and have a good printer/scanner and whatever - that is what matters and is at stake. Money is not the be all and end all - many people in Govt have not struggled or know people who have to really understand circumstances.

annodomini Wed 25-Mar-15 10:56:24

Bez, you have made the points I would have made. My mature students found it beneficial to bounce ideas off one another. They had life experience to bring to my courses in Literature and Cultural Studies. I could say that I learnt a good deal from them too. In addition, we functioned as personal tutors who would help our students to overcome situations which they might see as barriers to learning. It's staggering, for example, how many people fall at the first hurdle because they have never had a dyslexia assessment. After this has been diagnosed they realise that they aren't as thick as they were made to believe as teenagers, and they are able to take advantage of specialist tuition alongside the subjects they are studying. On-line courses? Not for these students.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 25-Mar-15 11:00:32

why doesn't the government grow one of these

soontobe Wed 25-Mar-15 11:05:54

Doing courses online can be a hard slog.

soontobe Wed 25-Mar-15 11:06:31

And a bit pot luck as regards tutors.

janerowena Wed 25-Mar-15 11:10:28

It can, and also most adults need the classes to be in the evenings as they are trying to work at the same time as study.

A now-empty school in our area (due to new academy being opened) is now virtually fully used by evening classes and groups. It's amazing what goes on there. It's only been going for a year, I think there will be an awful lot of very upset people.

Gracesgran Wed 25-Mar-15 11:39:04

I posted the OP early and then got called away so I am pleased to find with the exception of JBF that you seem to be as concerned as I am.

Jane10 said "Might this mean that Universities could step in and increase their range of more practical courses? Distance learning? Different ways of acquiring the education that people need beyond going to a set location?"

My feeling would be that the courses so many people need for to their jobs or for continued education will only be available from private companies. It seems to me to be likely that this is more privatisation by the back door.

Sadly, if these colleges close the offering to 16 to 19 year old student will be diminished too as the college courses will have to be offered by schools.

It may work, we may need changes, but I doubt that it has been thought through with the students in mind.

NotTooOld Wed 25-Mar-15 12:16:58

I too taught at an FE College for many years and tutored several Access courses along the way. Anno is right, they were a brilliant way for people who missed out at school to gain confidence and, in many cases, a university place and in case anyone is thinking they must have been a doddle to teach, they were not! The pastoral care required of the tutor was a major part of the workload although the end results could be very rewarding.

Years ago, government withdrew the funding for adult non-vocational courses which I always thought was a huge shame as they provided a brilliant service for the poor, the retired and anyone else wishing to learn a new skill. Now it seems vocational courses for older people are going the same way. How very sad.