For several months, the Department for Education has been working alongside adult education practitioners to develop a new funding framework. The Skills for Jobs White Paper had set out the intention to have a funding framework, which was linked to the outcomes that learners can be expected to achieve from their courses.  

The WEA and others had been concerned - based on earlier announcements - that the framework could be too narrowly designed around employment outcomes only. In particular, an announcement made last year that the Department would not fund “leisure learning” courses raised concerns that many arts and humanities courses could be defunded.  

Last week better news came through an update on the framework, which said that funding can be used “to support wider purposes of learning, including building confidence, and improving well-being”. 

Although the Department continued to state that courses would not be funded where they were “primarily or solely for leisure purposes”, this new announcement should enable a broad range of courses to remain within scope for funding. Certainly, the WEA’s impact report shows that many courses lead to confidence and well being outcomes for many learners. 

In response to the announcement, WEA CEO Simon Parkinson said: 

"The WEA welcomes the Department for Education's decision to continue funding courses for adults that promote well-being and confidence building. This can include creative arts courses and many other subjects.  

“A great strength of community adult education has been the range of different subjects it can offer. This gives adult learners the chance to find the course which best suits their needs - which could be to build their confidence, improve well-being or make better connections within their community. 

“ We are pleased that the Department has listened to the evidence from the adult education sector and has not restricted funding only to employment outcomes.  

“This broader approach will help to increase participation and achieve a positive impact for a greater number of adult learners. We hope that Mayoral Combined Authorities with devolved budgets will follow suit and also fund a broad range of courses." 

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