Thursday, 26 June 2014

Concern over adult learning cuts

I have expressed concern about Dundee City Council cuts in adult learning provision that has left the West End without a dedicated adult learning worker, which is a highly detrimental move.

The City Council has advised me :
As a result of the savings we have  reduced the number of Adult Learning Teams from five to four with a reduction in our staff complement by  one Senior Adult Learning Worker and two Adult Learner Worker posts.  This follows year on year reduction in staffing, as a result of the savings, and  as such we are no longer able to sustain the level of provision that was previously offered by Adult Learning.  Therefore, we have had to look at a full scale review of the service which involves a reconfiguration of both the staff structure and areas of provision.
There is no longer the capacity within the Adult Learning Section to deliver a universal city-wide Adult Learning provision.  In line with the Prevention Framework for Dundee Partnership, the outcomes set in the Single Outcome Agreement and within the context of the CLD Strategic Guidance, it is the intention to refocus Adult Learning within the Prevention Framework as targeted prevention and early intervention work.  In effect this means geographic targeting at community areas in the 15% most deprived within the following Wards:  Lochee, Strathmartine, Coldside, Maryfield, East End and North East. 
In addition to this target based approach there is the recognition  to retain  literacy and ESOL provision on a referral based approach ; having a central resource at Mitchell Street working in partnership with key agencies/voluntary organisations. 
This means there will be no staff deployed geographically to target communities within the West End area.  However, people from the West End will still be able to access literacy and ESOL services through Mitchell Street and we have given the commitment to support Adult Education Associations, which means if HERA look to re-form once the new Harris premises are completed, then we would help support this development.
The admission that the Adult Learning Section can no longer deliver a universal city-wide Adult Learning provision is a pretty concerning state of affairs.    Adult learning is key to helping people into employment and, for example, constituents have commented how useful courses are, including assisting people for whom English is their second language.     I am particularly concerned at the lack of a dedicated worker to the West End - this is bad news.

I am meeting the council's Adult Learning Manager to discuss my concerns as I feel that it is vital that Adult Learning across the city is not compromised.   I also raised the matter at yesterday's City Council Scrutiny Committee.

I spoke on Wave 102 News yesterday about the issue - you can hear the interview by clicking 'play' below: