Agenda item

Community Learning Self-Assessment Report 2022 - 2023

Report of Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills


The Committee considered a report of the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills regarding Staffordshire Community Learning Service’s Annual Self-Assessment for 2022/23 (schedule 1 to the signed minutes).


The Service provided a range of formal and informal education and training opportunities to meet the needs of learners (aged 19 years and over), the economy and wider community across Staffordshire. Their work was funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) through direct grant totalling £1.6 per annum. However, an additional £4.2m (over a three year period) had been secured in 2022 to deliver the Multiply Programme which aimed to help adults improve their numeracy skills.


Learning programmes were delivered by both the Direct Delivery Unit and various Partner organisations who targeted and prioritised vulnerable adults with barriers to learning.


The four main strands of delivery during the year were:- (i) Community Learning Framework 2019-2023; (ii) Community Learning Trust Responsiveness Fund; (iii) Wider Family Learning Grants and; (iv) Direct Delivery (Accredited Provision – Adult Skills), with courses being provided through a combination of classroom based, online and hybrid/blended learning.


The Service’s Annual Self-Assessment was based on service-wide data and other evidence including:- (i) learner feedback; (ii) information on learner destinations; (iii) course documentation and; (iv) quality monitoring reports. The process involved benchmarking against an internal Quality and Performance Framework together with Ofsted’s Education and Inspection Framework (2019) which defined the criteria for high quality provision and continual improvement and monitoring.


OFSTED had introduced a new Education Inspection Framework in 2019 according to which Staffordshire achieved an overall rating of ‘Good’ for 2021/22. In addition, a full inspection of the service was undertaken between 31 January and 2 February 2023 which had resulted in an Overall Effectiveness score of ‘Good’.


However, measurement of performance against Key Performance indicators for the year, by the Service, had identified the following areas for improvement:- (i) significant rapid improvement in outcomes for learners of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and digital courses, especially for Black and Minority Ethnic Learners; managers must implement relevant strategies to support and improve attendance; (ii) effective information and advice and clear progression pathways; (iii) personalised learning goals and outcomes to provide sufficient challenge, especially for more able learners, to demonstrate the progress learners make on-course and towards longer term aspirations and; (iv) use of effective initial and diagnostic assessments to develop appropriate English and Maths learning outcomes. It was hoped that significant improvement in the above-mentioned areas could be achieved by December 2023.


During the full and wide-ranging discussion which ensued, Members gave detailed scrutiny to the work of the Service and results of the annual Self-Assessment, asking questions, seeking clarification and raising issues of concern as necessary, including:- (i) the various measures being implemented to mitigate against slower learner recruitment; (ii) the timing of courses having regard to learners’ potential work commitments and the need to improve recruitment/accessibility; (iii) how the long term aspirations of learners were being met through the provision of additional support by the County Council; (iv) attendance rates during the current term; (v) how the KPIs could be reconfigured to better capture data relating ethnicity and gender; (vi) involvement of employers in the delivery of courses and engagement with learners; (vii) benchmarking Staffordshire’s performance with that of comparable Authorities; (viii) take-up of courses by learners with SEND and how the service offer could be better tailored to suit their needs and; (ix) engagement with people not in education, employment and training (NEETS).


RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted;


(b) That the ‘Good’ performance of the Community Learning Service during 2022/23 be welcomed.


(c) That the Cabinet Member continue his efforts to address the above-mentioned areas of weakness with a view to achieving significant improvement by December 2023.


(d) That the Cabinet Member consider reconfiguring future Self-Assessment reports to the Committee to include Key Performance Indicators listed by gender.


(e) That the Cabinet Member consider reconfiguring future Self-Assessment reports to the Committee to better illustrate learners by ethnicity so that any inequalities highlighted can be addressed, as appropriate.

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