Merton Council is to work closely over the coming weeks, with learners and carers of those learners with special needs, on shaping a new financially resilient adult education service for Merton.
Following the decision to move to a commissioned service, the council has already spoken to a number of adult education providers about their capacity to deliver what would potentially be required. The council also set out to ensure that a proposed service would meet the council’s commissioning principles and would benefit as wide a range of learners as possible.
Further work to develop the council’s requirements for the new adult education service will be done in conjunction with learners and other interested parties. Discussions with those who use the adult education service will give learners the opportunity to make sure issues such as special needs, pricing policy and breadth of course types are addressed before the council decides on which provider(s) to commission.
In line with the 13 commissioning principles agreed at cabinet in February, the council plans to invite bidders to tender for the adult learning contracts in the early autumn.
The new provider(s) will replace the adult education service, currently delivered directly by Merton Council, from September 2016.
The council is committed to ensuring adult education remains in the borough and that a new service should provide at least the same breadth and variety of courses as is currently offered.
Existing subject areas such as employment skills will be a key element included in the council’s requirements of a learning provider. ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), health and wellbeing, creative arts, languages and IT and computing will also be specified as requirements to potential bidders.
Cabinet member for education Councillor Martin Whelton has asked for these commissioning plans to go to Cabinet in September to make certain that they are in line with the agreed commissioning principles.
Councillor Whelton said: “We are committed to ensuring that our residents have a first class adult education service that is delivered within the borough. We’re looking forward to working with our learners to ensure we develop a service that meets the requirements of as many people as possible. We are also keen to involve scrutiny in our development of the service to ensure we consider all aspects ahead of the autumn cabinet meeting. Providing continuity, support to learners and skills which will help people gain employment are all part of what we’ll be looking for in a provider. And as a business-like council, we will make sure the adult learning service is both affordable for the learners and provides good value for money to all Merton’s taxpayers.”
The council will be keeping residents updated throughout the commissioning process. Anyone interested in taking part in the process of developing the service is welcome to contact Merton Council at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
Merton Adult Education Is launching its prospectus for 2015/16 in early July. Courses will be available as usual through to the end of the academic year in July 2016. New providers will take over for the 2016/17 academic year.