Council to bring in-house its adult education courses

Brighton & Hove City Council is bringing its adult and community learning offer in-house as of 1 August 2020.

We are committed to ensuring an inclusive and high-quality learning offer is available for all adults in Brighton & Hove. This adult learning has a focus on supporting people with few or no qualifications, on low incomes, unemployed or low or semi-skilled, to develop the confidence, skills and qualifications to progress in the city.

The Friends Centre currently delivers most of the council’s adult and community learning offer. The centre provides a range of daytime and evening courses, including arts and crafts, creative writing, English, ESOL (English as a second or foreign language), family learning, Information Technology, modern foreign languages and personal development.

It oversees approximately 1,100 learners each year at their two main learning centres in Brighton at Isetta Square and Ivory Place and in a range of community venues, including children’s centres and community hubs based on estates in the east of the city.

The move to bring the adult learning offer in house follows anticipated changes in national funding and the council’s commitment to providing in-house services where possible.

The service is mainly funded by the government’s Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA). The funding allocation for next year is expected £569,988. Additional council funding of £101,030 has been agreed to deliver the service for the year ahead, 2020/21, with service provision continuing without interruption from 1 August 2020.

Providing continuity

The plans involve leasing Isetta Square to provide continuity for adult learners in a suitable learning environment.

The Friends Centre has given its full support to the council’s decision.

Eligible staff from the Friends Centre will transfer to the council to support delivery in the new academic year.

The Friends Centre’s principal, Helen Osborne, said: “We are delighted that through the new arrangement our staff will be able to support the city’s learners”.  

A highly inclusive learning environment

The service was recently rated ‘good’ by Ofsted. Inspectors praised the ‘ambitious’ curriculum and the ‘highly inclusive’ learning environment.

The council will continue to work in partnership with other adult education providers to ensure that residents are able to access a broad range of courses across the city.

Councillor John Allcock, chair of the council’s children, young people and skills committee, said: "We absolutely need this service in our city, as its vital to sustain and develop adult skills.

“The Friends Centre has done a fantastic job in the city for many years delivering invaluable training and support for thousands of our residents.

“This decision shows our enthusiasm for making sure our city retains the expertise of those currently delivering the service as we look at how best to support our adult learners.”

The issue was discussed recently by councillors at committee. The Adult and Community Learning report and committee outcomes can be read on the council website pages for Housing Committee and Policy & Resources committee.