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Focus on Results - City Lit welcomes new report

20 September 2021
Posted in: News

New Report by Learning and Work Institute and the Association of Colleges

Learning and skills are vital to economic prosperity and social justice, securing the post pandemic recovery, and ensuring fair opportunity across the country. The Government argues that an increased focus on the outcomes of learning can help improve impact. It proposes a performance dashboard including a new Skills Measure looking at things like progression to high value jobs, and Accountability Agreements with providers showing how they will meet local and national economic need. This report explores the case for this, other countries’ experiences, and makes proposals for England.

— Drawing on examples from Australia, Canada, Ireland and US, it proposes five recommendations:

  • Focus on core economic and social outcomes, including narrowing inequalities in participation and outcomes.
  • Ambitious Labour Market and Skills Agreements, devolving greater responsibility to local government based on outcomes.
  • Introduce outcome agreements for colleges and providers, with scorecards showing delivery of economic and social outcomes.
  • Take an open data approach, including developing a Skills and Employment data lab and a public-facing outcomes website.
  • Be ambitious in simplifying funding and maximising freedoms and flexibilities, to ensure colleges and providers have the tools to deliver improved outcomes.

Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute said:

“Increasing participation in learning is crucial for recovery from the pandemic and building a prosperous and inclusive society. That requires greater investment but also a different approach to how we invest. We need longer-term planning and greater focus on the outcomes we want to achieve.

The Government’s proposals head in the right direction but we need to go further. We want to see social outcomes included alongside economic outcomes, a more joined-up approach across learning, skills and employment funding, and greater ambitious for devolution where that will improve results.”

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges said:

Colleges work hard to achieve the best outcomes for every learner – whether that be progression in learning, moving into work or wider outcomes – so it is appropriate to design an accountability system which addresses those outcomes. However, we know that achieving a fair system for colleges in different labour markets, with different subject mixes and with different cohorts of students is far from easy.

That’s exactly why this report is so important. It helps us to learn from other countries, looking at how they have approached this and how it has worked. The fundamental pitfall that I hope the Government avoids is to look solely at wage outcomes, as if that does anything to measure the impact of colleges. Working with colleges and other stakeholders in developing a new approach is essential to get this right.

Colleges deliver significant social outcomes including health and wellbeing, citizen participation, community cohesion and tolerance. A system which looked across these and the learning and economic outcomes and which recognised the different context for each college combined with simplified, multi-year spending and joined-up policy making would lead to high quality opportunities for all, stronger communities and better economic growth.

We urge the government to be ambitious with the funding and accountability reforms, ensuring that simpler funding and accountability are delivered hand in glove. Doing that will maximise the impact of public investment in learning.”

Phil Chamberlain, executive director external engagement at City Lit said:

We welcome this month’s new report by Learning and Work Institute and the Association of Colleges, which explores how social and economic outcomes could contribute to England’s learning and skills systems. Here at City Lit, we believe that outcomes of learning such as improved confidence; better communication skills; improved wellbeing; removing isolation and loneliness, are as important to our national recovery as developing skills that support economic recovery. These life skills outcomes are essential underpinnings to economic aspirations and employability, and we hope the government will recognise this.

A core purpose of lifelong learning has always been to give people purpose through new experiences and knowledge and by connecting them with other like-minded individuals. Alongside other institutes for adult learning, City Lit works hard to ensure that all adults, whatever their age or stage in life, can receive high-quality education and learning throughout their lives. We work hard to ensure that everyone is enabled to learn and improve themselves as well as to hold roles and responsibilities within their communities. These institutions also provide pastoral support to many, on top of meeting the educational needs of their students.

The recovery after Covid is a huge challenge and adult education clearly has a vital role to play.”


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About City Lit 

City Lit is Britain’s leading adult education college. We currently offer courses online and face-to-face in our flagship building in Keeley Street, Covent Garden. For over a hundred years, City Lit is where marketers learn a new language; people in recovery learn skills vital for employment; barristers come to learn the piano; pensioners learn how to get onto the internet and connect through social media; counsellors and fitness professionals improve their skills; and young adults learn a craft with which to start their own business. 

About Learning and Work Institute 

Learning and Work Institute is an independent policy, research and development organisation dedicated to lifelong learning, full employment and inclusion. L&WI researches what works, develop new ways of thinking and implement new approaches. Working with partners, they transform people’s experiences of learning and employment. What they do benefits individuals, families, communities and the wider economy.

About Association of Colleges

The Association of Colleges is the national voice for further education, sixth form, tertiary and specialist colleges in England. The AoC is a not-for-profit membership organisation established in 1996 by colleges, for colleges. Their members make up almost 95% of the sector - transforming 2.2 million lives each year. Acting as the collective voice, the AoC represents and promote the interests of colleges, and provide their members with high-quality professional support services, including training, events, and recruitment.