City of Learning?
By Rose Roberts
Despite being described as a “city of learning”, cuts to Liverpool's Adult Learning Service of around £1.6 million are being made. One hundred sessional tutors and 17 permanent staff will be made redundant.
The cuts will potentially also affect hundreds of adult learners, who are frequently from underprivileged backgrounds. The city council have claimed that one reason for the cuts is a “need for change” within the service, which failed an OFSTED inspection last year. However, significant cuts to Family Learning have been made – the only area that passed the inspection, receiving a grade 2 (good). Also, it is unlikely that cutting funding will improve the quality of the service. Adult learning in Liverpool already suffers from low funding. This means that most adult learning tutors are on sessional contracts, with no job security and fewer employment rights than permanent staff. Sessional tutors did not even receive a pay rise for ten years. Even after the last pay rise, the most a sessional tutor (working full time) can earn is around £12,600 – about half the salary of a schoolteacher.
Although adult tutors are typically highly motivated and committed to adult education , the relatively low wages and lack of job security has a negative effect on the quality of the service.
The council have also claimed that the cuts have to be made to accommodate Learning Skills Council (LSC) cuts in funding. The Adult Learning Service has failed to meet Learning Skills Council (LSC) targets, who have reduced their funding to the service as a penalty. Also, LSC funding for adult learning has been cut across the country, following a change in government policy that prioritises 14-19 year olds. Funding is being diverted from adult learners to this group.
However, three other councils (Nottingham, Durham and Leicester) have previously been able to find other sources of funding after LSC cuts. Liverpool City Council, however, have (reportedly) made little or no efforts to find other sources of funding. Perhaps learning in Liverpool is not valued as highly as the council claims.Printer friendly page