On 29 September, the Prime Minister, announced the expansion of Government support for adult education, with the aim of improving the training and skills system and aiding the country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The package of measures, available from April 2021 in England, includes:
- Lifetime Skills Guarantee – adults without an A-level or equivalent qualification will be entitled to a fully-funded college course to help with retraining and upskilling. This will include flexible learning options with various locations and times to choose from.
- Education Loans – a flexible lifelong loan entitlement for four years of post-18 education, allowing learners to break up study into segments and transfer credits between colleges and universities.
Bishop Tim was unable to speak to the rescheduled Government Statement read in the House of Lords this week due to other commitments, but he welcomes the statement:
“I welcome the measures introduced by Her Majesty’s Government, especially the commitment to levelling up Further Education in this country, introducing greater flexibility and increasing opportunities for learners of all ages.
At a time when the Further Education sector has a particularly crucial role to play in the rebuilding of our post-Covid society, this is of strategic importance as we progress through the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Further Education forms a significant part of Education provision in Hampshire and East Dorset, with 13 Further Education and Sixth Form Colleges spread across the Diocese of Winchester, serving more than 33,000 students. One of these is Basingstoke College of Technology, with a major focus on digital technology: they provide the specialist vocational and technical training required for a strong future society, in areas including construction, engineering, media, sport and computing.
I look forward to the Government’s longer-term commitment to invest in Adult Education and Skills, in the forthcoming Further Education White Paper. I hope that the Paper outlines an approach demonstrating the value the Government places on vocation and the unique contribution of Further Education to all areas of our communities and society.
We still have more to do to raise the profile of FE and its ongoing significance for adult education. The Church of England recognises that it needs to contribute to a new appreciation of FE. We recognise that as a national Church we have little involvement in the FE and skills sector and the key role it plays in society, so we are developing a Further Education Vision focusing on the themes of vocation, transformation and hope. Our aim is to raise awareness and show our support for FE Colleges across the sector.”