Councillors and committees

Agenda item

Kingston Adult Education

1 - To transform the existing Council-operated Kingston Adult Education service in the

short to medium-term, in order to ensure key outcomes are met and to make the service

operationally more efficient and flexible.

 

2 - To scope and understand the potential for provider(s) to deliver adult education for

Kingston in the medium-term, with Committee approval to undertake a scoping exercise of

potential providers and opportunities.

Decision:

Resolved that -

1.            Officers take forward proposals in the short to medium-term to make the current Kingston Adult Education service more efficient and to continue to deliver effective learner outcomes (ref para 25 of the report);

2.            a scoping exercise can be undertaken to understand adult education provider(s) for Kingston adult education over the medium-term; and

3.            a detailed report with the findings is submitted to this Committee by June 2019 (subject to timeframes).

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report about transformation of the existing Council-operated Kingston Adult Education service in the short to medium-term, in order to ensure key outcomes are met and to make the service operationally more efficient and flexible.  The proposal is to scope and understand the potential for provider(s) to deliver adult education for Kingston in the medium-term, seeking Committee approval to undertake a scoping exercise of potential providers and opportunities.

The Kingston Adult Education service (KAE) supports 2,832 learners a year (equating to around 6,000 enrolments) and generates a surplus of circa £300K per annum. It plays an important role in supporting healthy, independent and resilient residents. Outcomes for learners include gaining qualifications, improving employment skills, reducing social isolation and improving the mental health and wellbeing of individuals.

KAE is financially valuable to the Council, generating annual income of £2m and costing £1.7m to run. The service currently makes a controllable surplus of approximately £330K annually, which is less than the budget target of £560k, leaving a £230k gap.  The gap is partly due to the removal of the apprenticeship grant by central government, for which KAE will receive growth of £150k in 2019/20.

The service can achieve £100K of savings over 2 years (£80k in 2019/20 and a further £20k in 2020/21) by continuing to deliver effective learner outcomes, reducing management costs and making service efficiencies, to close the remainder of the gap.

To make it a more dynamic, flexible and efficient service it is acknowledged that KAE needs to make changes to how it operates and delivers provision.  In the short to medium term we will seek to achieve this by transforming the service to make it more efficient and modern, with digitised processes.

However, it is also important to explore other options for the longer term.  One of the ways in which other councils have successfully delivered adult education in terms of outcomes for learners and efficiency, is through specialist providers to provide a service that also has the potential to save on management and accommodation costs.  A first step in understanding the viability of this option is to undertake a scoping exercise of potential providers and opportunities.

The following approach is recommended:

a. 2019/20 and 2020/21 – To transform the existing service. To continue to deliver effective learner outcomes and refine and digitise processes to make the service more efficient. To remain aligned with national, regional and local needs. To ensure assets are used to their full potential. To deliver savings through efficiencies.

 

b. 2019/20 - To undertake a scoping exercise of potential providers and opportunities whilst continuing to transform the service.  Future options will then be developed depending on the results of the scoping exercise.  A business case will be brought back to the Committee with the findings of the scoping exercise which explores the benefits of external providers versus continuing as a Council-delivered service.  Options and opportunities will be explored; it is anticipated that future options may involve delivery of adult education provision from different sites across the borough.  An appraisal of potential sites will be included as part of the future options development.

Resolved that -

1.            Officers take forward proposals in the short to medium-term to make the current Kingston Adult Education service more efficient and to continue to deliver effective learner outcomes (ref paragraph 25 of the report);

2.            a scoping exercise can be undertaken to understand adult education provider(s) for Kingston adult education over the medium-term; and

3.            a detailed report with the findings is submitted to this Committee by June 2019 (subject to timeframes).

Voting - unanimous

Supporting documents: