Adult Education

MQT on 2017-01-18
Session date: 
January 18, 2017
Question By: 
David Kurten
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


How will the devolution of Adult Education to City Hall affect the provision of post-16 education in London?


Answer for Adult Education

Answer for Adult Education

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you for your question, although I did thank the last Assembly Member for his question and it just went downhill from there. 


I want to ensure that all Londoners and London’s businesses can access the skills they need to succeed and that Londoners of all ages can progress in learning and work to reach their full potential.  I am pleased to have secured the offer of devolution of the adult education budget from the Government to London from 2019/20.  This budget covers learned aged 19-plus but does not yet, unfortunately, despite the wording of your question, include funding for learners aged between 16 and 18.


Devolution of the adult education budget is an important first step in enabling us to better address the skills needs of London’s economy and to reduce unemployment, but we need to go further to take a truly strategic approach to post-16 skills.  That is why I will continue to make the case to the Government to also devolve skills funding for 16-to-18-year-olds.  I will also work to secure a coherent and integrated all-ages careers information, advice and guidance offer for London, as well as strategic influence over 14-to-19 vocation investments, alongside London’s existing further education (FE) capital responsibility.


In the meantime, I will be producing a London Skills Strategy, overseen by my Skills for Londoners Taskforce, which will set out London’s skills priorities based on the needs of Londoners and London’s businesses.  This will include details on plans for the adult education budget.  Skills for Londoners will also work with skills training providers to ensure that all programmes and funding streams across the public, private and voluntary sectors work in concert to secure the best outcomes for all Londoners.


Finally, as a member of the GLA Education Panel, I am sure you will be scrutinising the delivery of my education and skills policies moving forward and I look forward to working with you on this vitally important issue for London.


David Kurten AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  Looking at how it is going to be implemented, it is from the 2019/20 financial year.  There does not seem to be at the moment on the Government’s website too many details of which institutions it is going to affect or even which budget is going to be transferred to you.  Some of the information I have seen still refers to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (DBIS), which does not exist anymore.  It is now the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (DBEIS).


Is it a fact that it is the funding from the Skills Funding Agency that is going to be devolved to you?  Is that the case?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  You are right to ask me the question.  There is some vagueness because we are still to work out the details.  As you will be aware, there is currently a review taking place in relation to FE colleges in London.  We are working closely with the Skills Funding Agency, with the Department for Education (DfE) and with other Government departments to work out how the devolution will work.  That is one of the reasons why I have not been critical of the Government going to 2019/20.  It will take us some time to work out the landscape.  In the meantime, the good news is that it gives us a chance to lobby for 16-to-18s as well.


David Kurten AM:  Do you know which institutions are going to be affected by this?  Is it going to be sixth form colleges or FE colleges or just adult education colleges?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  At the moment it is just adult education and so post-19.  At the moment the Government is not willing to give devolution for below-19.  It has not closed the door completely.  What it has said - and this is me being generous, I hope, to both sides - is, “Persuade us”.  There is a phrase that the Government has used more and more about “earned autonomy” and it may well be that we do not get 16-to-18 before we start 19-plus in 2019/20.  It may be that we start 19-plus from 2019/20 and, as we go forward, we earn the autonomy to do 16-to-18.


That does not stop us being ambitious with Skills for Londoners.  The funding we have from the Government in relation to the new London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) will mean that we are going to use that to get Skills for Londoners off the ground as soon as possible.


David Kurten AM:  With that, if you do not get 16-to-18 and you just get 19-plus, will it mean that some institutions are partly funded by you and partly funded by the DfE?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes.  There will be lots of different pots of money that adult education and 16-to-18 education will be bidding for going forward.  For 16-to-18 at the moment I have no locus and we are trying to get locus in relation to that.  From 2019/20 onwards, there will be different pots of money, different Government departments and different LEAPs that monies will be sought from to fund adult education.


David Kurten AM:  One of the things that concerns me that I have heard is that there will be more possibility of these colleges going bankrupt because there will not be the support for them and they will be more financially accountable.  If they mismanage their money at the moment there is a safety net, but there is a greater possibility that some colleges - through misappropriation of funds, bad financial management or whatever - might then be able to go bankrupt and go out of business.


Is that something that concerns you and do you have any plan to stop that and safeguard against that happening?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am a very proud former governor of an FE College, South Thames in Tooting in south London, and I know the challenges FE colleges are facing.  There is currently an area review and recommendations that will determine the future of some of these FE colleges and they are very worried.  There have been mergers in the recent past.  FE colleges are working incredibly hard to use economies of scale to try to make savings, but there are challenges.  I do not want to cast aspersions on FE colleges around bankruptcy or financial irregularity.  What I do know is that these are uncertain times for the FE sector.  One of the things that I hope we can give them is optimism with devolution to London from 2019/20 onwards.


David Kurten AM:  I have one final question, which is about apprenticeships.  I have heard figures this week that came out about the number of higher apprenticeships that have been taken up in London.  There are about 2,700, which is only 6% of the total in the whole of the United Kingdom (UK).  London has 14% of the UK’s population and so, really, as a proportion, we need far more people doing higher apprenticeships.


What I hear from businesses is that they are crying out for people who have level 4 or 5 higher apprenticeships, which is a little bit higher than A‑level but not quite as high as a degree, with technical skills particularly in construction and engineering.  Do you have any plan with this devolution of money to increase the number of higher apprenticeships that Londoners can do?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We have.  One of the reasons why I was keen to set up a Business Advisory Board was to hear from businesses what their needs are.  We are doing work and the LEAP is doing work and Jules Pipe, the Deputy Mayor for [Planning, Regeneration and] Skills, is doing work in relation to this.


The criticism is legitimate.  It cannot be right that we have Londoners whose potential is untapped and unfulfilled because of lack of opportunities and we can provide the opportunities.


David Kurten AM:  Thank you.