Skills agenda has hit adult classes, ministers admit

Courses for adults with learning disabilities are being sidelined due to training priorities, the government has admitted, while pledging to tackle the issue.

The Learning and Skills Council, which funds and plans further education, should fund new courses for the group and other disabled people as a “priority”, a cross-government strategy published last week proposed.

Last year, education leaders warned that the government’s focus on courses leading to level 2 qualifications, equivalent to GCSEs at grades A* to C, meant some courses for adults with learning disabilities that did not meet this requirement were being cut by colleges. This was exacerbated by the prioritisation of education for 16 to 18-year-olds in 2006-7, leading to cuts in adult education budgets.

David Congdon, head of campaigns and policy at learning disabilities charity Mencap, welcomed the proposals and said that it was the first time the government had admitted to the problem.

“It recognises at last that they need to do a lot better in terms of courses that don’t provide level 2 qualifications,” he said.

He added that a “clearly identified and sufficient funding stream” for the courses now needed to be developed otherwise there was a danger that colleges “won’t make it happen”.

Under the plans, the government will also produce guidance on where responsibility lies for funding for different services for disabled adults, in particular for placements in residential services which offer both education and care. Last October, it announced plans for councils and primary care trusts to contribute to such placements with the Learning and Skills Council would be in place by 2007, in response to calls from the LSC, which also threatened to withdraw the funding.

Further information
Progression Through Partnership
Information on people with learning disabilities
A Life Like Any Other campaign

Contact the author
 Amy Taylor

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