further & higher education
local government

Lifelong Learning: Raising Standards of Adult Education

further & higher education

local government

08:45 - 16:40

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Central London, Central London

Coronavirus update: Inside Government has now postponed all its planned conferences, forums and training courses until June. We are in the process of scheduling new dates and will be in touch with all booked delegates. The health and wellbeing of our delegates, contributors and staff is at the forefront of our concern and we appreciate your support in taking this step and your patience in awaiting new dates. Please get in touch if you need any further information, at enquiries@insidegovernment.co.uk


This Forum provides an opportunity for participants to discuss strategies for enhancing the quality of adult education.  Following the announcement of the National Retraining Partnership, as part of the wider Industrial Strategy, education and training providers must prepare to upskill and retrain adults in an effective way to fill skills gaps across the country, particularly in light of skills shortages which are likely to widen as a result of Brexit. Policymakers and sector leaders will share policy updates for facilitating these efforts, while best practice case studies will share methods for ensuring training and learning opportunities are accessible to those who would most benefit and are in line with labour market needs.


This Forum is designed for Further Education Providers and Local Authorities. Typical job titles will include:

  • Principals
  • Teaching and Learning Advisers
  • Heads of Improvement
  • Curriculum Leaders
  • Corporate Directors for Education
  • Human Resources Managers
  • Lecturers
  • Course Directors
  • Directors of Curriculum Development
  • Employment and Skills Officers
  • Heads of Employer Engagement
  • Strategic Planning Managers
  • Infrastructure Delivery Managers
  • Heads of Talent Management
  • Apprenticeship and Training Managers
  • Careers & Apprenticeship Managers
  • Learning and Development Leads
  • Heads of Apprenticeships
  • Directors of Apprenticeships
  • Apprenticeships Managers
  • Apprenticeship Leads
  • People Managers
  • Directors of Employability

This Forum is also open to the wider Education Sector, Voluntary and Private Sectors to encourage discussion and networking.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Michael Carney, Policy Engagement Lead, Department for Education (DfE)
  • Alastair da Costa, Chair, Capital City College Group, and Member, Social Mobility Commission Board
  • Dr Catherine Manning, Head of Teaching, Learning and Assessment, Education and Training Foundation
  • Dr Fiona Aldridge, Director for Policy and Research, Learning and Work Institute
  • Dawit Asress, Assistant Principal, Quality and Student Services, Redbridge Institute
  • Ed Richardson, Senior Policy Adviser, The Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
  • Iain Murray, Senior Policy Advisor, The Trades Union Congress
  • Cllr Shaid Mushtaq, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Oldham Council
  • Gerald Jones, Head of Adult Learning, Lewisham Council and Chair, Local Education Authorities’ Forum for the Education of Adults (LEAFEA)
View the agenda and additional speakers

Nine in ten workers will need some form of re-skilling by 2030, according to CBI. Despite this, participation in adult education has fallen to record lows, with four million adult learners lost since 2010.

Government funding fell by 34% in real terms between 2010 and 2016. The result has been a trend of low-skilled workers being able to access training and development, with 82% of employers focusing on training opportunities for senior, high-skilled employees.

In response, in January 2019 the Social Mobility Commission revealed that 1 in 4 of the UK’s low paid-workers will never escape low pay. With low skill levels cited as the main reason for this, the negative impact is not only on the individuals but on the wider UK economy and production trends.

In a bid to tackle these alarming trends, the National Retraining Partnership has been established, first meeting in March 2018, as part of the 2017 Industrial Strategy, with the aim of improving and increasing adult learning and retraining. Industry leaders and trade unions are working together with policymakers and training providers to strategise ways to boost productivity, identify and reduce skills gaps, and grow sectors including artificial intelligence and creative industries, as well as construction.

£30 million is being invested in the retraining scheme to test the use of more innovative technology, to ensure those in training can make the most out of emerging digital developments. A further £34 million is being used to expand construction training programmes in particular, and fund innovative developments for manual labourers. This is in addition to a £5.75 million fund, led by Nesta and the Department for Education, which will be allocated to charities that demonstrate technical innovations that will equip adults with skills for future employment.

The onus is now on all stakeholders to work together in utilising funding and new opportunities to ensure lifelong learning is accessible to all, raising the standard of adult education across the country. If the UK economy is to compete globally, the labour force must be able to develop and demonstrate skills fit for a modern, ever-evolving 21st-century market.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair’s Welcome Address

Professor Ewart Keep, Director of Centre for Skills Knowledge & Organisational Performance (SKOPE), University of Oxford (invited)


Morning Keynote: Expanding Adult Education Through the National Retraining Scheme and the National Skills Fund

  • Discussing the economic landscape and the need for re-skilling, as well as upskilling mature learners in light of industry advancements and Brexit
  • Sharing progress on the development and rollout of the National Retraining Scheme, the government’s programme to help adults retrain into better jobs
  • Offering guidance for education providers on how to access government funding to develop and enhance adult education programmes, particularly through innovative use of technology
  • Examining initial findings from the rollout of the ‘Get Help to Retrain’ programme as part of the scheme, which provides a digital service for adults to understand their skills, explore training opportunities and access support
  • Sharing insights into the development of the National Skills Fund, supported by 3bn of funding

Michael Carney, Policy Engagement Lead, Department for Education (DfE) (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Ensuring Adult Education is Accessible by All

  • Assessing the key outcomes from the 2019 Adult Skills Gap report and exploring the key barriers to adult learning for low-income adults with few qualifications
  • Highlighting how training for low paid workers is often overlooked for the training of highly paid workers and how this contributes to a lifetime of low paid work
  • Encouraging employers to upskill workers by providing opportunities to develop managerial skills, and how traditional training providers can support these efforts
  • Sharing recommendations to improve opportunities for upskilling for low paid workers, including initiatives to make retraining more accessible and flexible for learners

Alastair da Costa, Chair, Capital City College Group, and Member, Social Mobility Commission Board (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Interactive Panel Discussion: Working in Partnership to Develop High-Quality, Needs-Based Training

Delegates will have the opportunity to submit questions in advance of the forum to pose to the panel, as well as engaging with them on the day. Discussion topics will include:

  • The formation of the National Retraining Partnership and how this fits into wider Industrial Strategy plans
  • Strategies for boosting productivity and skills in sectors where a shortage has been identified including AI, creative industries and construction, with the help of £64 million in funding
  • How to ensure new opportunities meet the needs of all stakeholders, including employers, training providers, and low-skilled workers who typically miss out on continued learning

Ed Richardson, Senior Policy Adviser, The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) (CONFIRMED)

Iain Murray, Senior Policy Advisor, The Trades Union Congress (CONFIRMED)

Alan Fletcher, Head of Research and Enterprise Support (STEM), The Open University (CONFIRMED)

Arinola Edeh, Principal and Head of Service, Westminster Adult College (invited)


Case Study: Supporting Employers to Upskill the Local Workforce

  • Working with Careers Education Information and Guidance Swindon and Wiltshire to raise aspirations among young people and workers so sustainable careers can be built across local businesses
  • Sharing how the college utilises European Social Fund (ESF) funding to deliver free upskilling opportunities to local businesses and how this can be sustained post-Brexit
  • Collaborating with the Building Bridges programme, funded by the ESF and Big Lottery Fund, to help those in need of support access education, training and employment, including by encouraging those in the community to make referrals
  • Outlining how courses are tailored to employer and trainee needs, including in a taught classroom environment, workplace assessment and distance learning

Jo Grenfell, Director of Funding and Learning Resources, Wiltshire College and University Centre (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Supporting Adults Transitioning Through Life Stages to Access Adult Education

  • Sharing findings from the Learning at Life Transitions Report, 2019, which explores the motivations and barriers to adults re-engaging with learning at key points in their lives, such as preparing for retirement and returning to work after caring for children
  • Discussing how practitioners can make learning more accessible and attractive to adults within these transition stages, for example by ensuring flexible and suitable childcare provision or clear communication about how learning can enhance retirement
  • Sharing recommendations to enhance update and quality of adult learning, including providing a curriculum that aligns with the goals and interest of adults across a range of life stages
  • Considering the next steps to be taken to enhance adult education opportunities, including proposals for a national lifelong strategy and an entitlement to career reviews for adults at key points of transition

Dr Fiona Aldridge, Director for Policy and Research, Learning and Work Institute (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Utilising the Professional Standards to Improve Adult Education Provision

  • Summarising the core components of the ETF Professional Standards, including values and attributes, knowledge and understanding, and skills, and the role these must play in delivering adult education
  • Discussing how to implement the Professional Standards Framework in different settings, including traditional further education college as well as independent training providers that work to deliver on the specialist needs of the employer
  • Discussing methods for constructively challenging staff, teachers and employers, to evaluate their practice and methods for motivating learners

Dr Catherine Manning, Head of Teaching, Learning and Assessment, Education and Training Foundation (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Delivering Outstanding Adult Education Training – The Role of Universities

  • Sharing guidance on how universities can enhance their education programmes to create a generation of high-quality adult education lecturers who can deliver outstanding teaching
  • Discussing what constitutes outstanding adult education teaching and how universities can embed this into their education programmes
  • Assessing how universities and further education providers can work closely together to ensure that course curriculums are tailored and students have the opportunity to experience adult education teaching prior to completing their degree
  • Analysing how students can be supported throughout their course of study to tackle the challenges of adult education training, including engagement of disadvantaged adults and meeting business needs

Professor Norbert Pachler, Pro-Director: Teaching, Quality & Learning Innovation, Institute of Education, University College London (UCL) (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Developing an Outstanding Curriculum to Deliver Award-Winning Adult Education

  • Sharing insights into how Redbridge Institute became the first local authority adult education service in London to achieve an outstanding Ofsted grade and one of four top providers in the country
  • Developing highly effective regional partnerships to inform a tailored and community-focused curriculum aligned to local and regional priorities and offering guidance on collaborating with local partners
  • Providing outstanding support to learners, including a high proportion of learners from deprived backgrounds, to develop crucial skills, widen employment opportunities and achieve consistently high grades
  • Offering guidance on raising the standards of teaching and learning and how this has improved the quality of adult education provision, resulting in the Institute having no areas of improvement according to Ofsted

Dawit Asress, Assistant Principal, Quality and Student Services, Redbridge Institute (CONFIRMED)

Winners of the Adult and Community Learning Provider of the Year Award at TES FE Awards, 2019


Case Study: Delivering Outstanding Lifelong Learning - A Local Authority Approach

  • Outlining what makes Oldham Council’s Lifelong Learning Services Ofsted ‘outstanding’ and makes the service a national leader in the field
  • Offering informal adult education to over 10,000 people every year: Resourcing, financing and implementing
  • Highlighting how the council reduced barriers to participation, resulting in outstanding engagement with disadvantaged learners
  • Sharing guidance on successful partnership working between learners, communities and partners to ensure services are able to meet needs and the demand whilst delivering high quality learning
  • Achieving an overall qualification rate of 94% and 98% of learners recommending the service

Cllr Shaid Mushtaq, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Oldham Council (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Interactive Presentation: Embedding Vital Modern-Day Skills into the Curriculum

This session will share insights into the development of the National Outcomes Framework for Adult Education, which captures the multiple values and benefits of adult education. Participants will analyse the Curriculum for Life, which assesses the skills, attitudes and capabilities that workers will need to flourish in the 2020s, and how these can be taught in all subjects.

Delegates will then work in small groups on an activity to share strategies for embedding these skills within the curriculum.

Gerald Jones, Head of Adult Learning, Lewisham Council and Chair, Local Education Authorities’ Forum for the Education of Adults (LEAFEA) (CONFIRMED)


Chair’s Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change

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