Adult education changes to mean no more KCC funding for ‘leisure’ courses with focus now on employment and ‘equipping parents’

Arts and craft courses will no longer be subsidised as leisure courses

Changes to funding rules for adult education will mean a focus on skills for employment and to “equip parents and carers with the skills to support their children’s learning.”

Kent County Council (KCC) says changes in funding rules from the Department for Education means a new Adult Skills Fund will no longer be able to subsidise courses for ‘leisure’ such as creative art and crafts and language courses.

Community Learning and Skills (CLS) is KCC’s internally commissioned department to deliver education and training to adults and young people over 16.

It delivers core subjects like English and maths, and has a long history of a creative arts curriculum as well as languages, fitness and humanities.

KCC say: “The new Adult Skills Fund will support learners to gain skills which will lead them to meaningful, sustained, and relevant employment, or enable them to progress to further learning which will deliver that outcome.

“KCC will no longer be able to use money from the Adult Skills Fund to subsidise courses for which the primary purpose is leisure.

“Kent’s Adult Education will have an increased focus on core subjects, helping Kent residents to improve their employment prospects, health, and wellbeing, and to equip parents and carers with the skills to support their children’s learning.”

Impact on staff and property?

The funding changes are expected to come into effect from Thursday, August 1, but staff will continue to support learners whose courses will no longer be subsidised as KCC prepares for the switch-over.

There will be an impact to CLS staffing, particularly for tutors in the biggest impacted creative courses, and KCC documents also say there will be a reduction in property assets that “will be vital for CLS to return to financial viability.”

The service is expected to move to short-term community-based venues.

The cut to creative courses and statement that the focus will include course to “equip parents and carers with the skills to support their children’s learning” have been slammed by County Councillor Karen Constantine (Labour) who is a representative for Ramsgate.

She said: “One thing that would assist Thanet residents to achieve their life goals, whether in employment or in personal terms, would be if KCC did their job properly, and delivered statutory education, health and social care services to the residents of Thanet in a timely and professional manner.

“Far too often I support residents as they struggle to get answers to basic questions from KCC, and as they wait – as if in suspended animation – for vital and much needed services to come on tap.

“I find the idea of Kent Adult Education delivering courses that ‘equip parents and carers with the skills to support their children’s learning’ laudable but somewhat laughable.

“Far too many Thanet parents are resorting to home education because of a tardy or inflexible education system. Some parents cannot get their children into the schools of their choice. Some parents are concerned that KCC isn’t meeting SEN needs. “Some children, for whatever reason are not ‘school shaped’ and therefore home education becomes a necessity. The answers to these issues won’t be achieved by training parents! Also, youth provision, slashed by the ruling Kent Conservatives is a valuable avenue of support for our young people.

“Likewise if Thanet residents received social care earlier than they currently do, then they might not become even more ill – requiring them to depend on even more social care. I have seen this happen far too often.

“The delivery of adult education should be expansive and allow people to follow their interests – whatever they are. There’s a lot to be said for vocational training for its own sake. This decision represents an unpalatable narrowing down of opportunities and a cynical attempt by KCC to blame the very people it badly lets down.”

‘New funding rules’

KCC’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Rory Love, said: “Helping Kent residents develop the skills and knowledge they need for the jobs to which they aspire is at the very heart of what our adult education service is all about.

“Learning is a lifelong skill that can benefit people in so many ways, from having the confidence to go for that next job, to being better able to support children in their own education.

“There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained, whether by learning a new language, strengthening English, maths, or digital skills, or by improving wellbeing by taking one of our creative or fitness courses.

“The proposed changes are needed for our Adult Education service to meet the requirements of new funding rules from the Department for Education.”



    • It’s a pity you didn’t have an arts education it might have improved your naturist photography which frankly errs on the side of ‘Reader’s Wives’.

      Has Ms Pink put her clothes on?

      • Indeed, the two books on my photography sold purely on their own merits/lack of merits, and I’m not overkeen on them myself these days (that said, the original print runs did quickly sell out, and are being resold for considerably more on sites like ebay). This doesn’t distract from the fact that public funds are limited, and should be prioritised.

    • I’m sad to see the end of so called ‘leisure’ classes with Kent Adult Education Services. For many years I I taught creative writing classes with many mature students going on to earn from their writing. Even then the powers that be turned their noses up people who wanted to learn how to write. They were more interested in ‘English as a second language’. I would notify them of successes and be ignored. So much so that after one incident I walked away from running classes with them. Students got in touch and requested I taught them in another environment. I did just that and to this day I celebrate their successes. Kent has a lot of talented writers, with no thanks o the KCC and KAES.

  1. Has KCC never heard of transferrable skills?

    What jobs do they have in mind?

    It just goes to show the paucity of education and understanding that some of these politicians have.

    So art/cultural practices, and education is finally being demoted by KCC as ‘leisure’?

    They’ll be burning books next!

  2. Very, very sad.
    There’s a huge number of folk who rely on this type of course for any sort of social interaction.
    I know that funding is tight, due to a decade of Tory poor governance, but this is a big mistake.

  3. This is a really damaging decision by KCC. The loss of art classes in the broader sense- i.e. not just classes in painting and drawing- can, and often does, cause or exacerbate depression and loneliness for the people who attended them.

    • This is not about funding for Art and Art Galleries per se.
      It’s about the scores, possibly hundreds, of courses which provide a life-line to thousands of people throughout Thanet and Kent.
      There really is more to life than making money.
      Many people achieve fulfillment though learning another language, practising pottery, portrait or still life painting, working with textiles or ceramics, singing, learning to play an instrument.
      Discontinuing these courses will leave a huge hole in many folks’ lives. And the cost won’t just be measured in £££.

    • Art in the broad sense produces plenty of desirable things for its makers- interest, enjoyment, satisfaction, pleasure.

    • I may only be a Master of Fine Arts myself, but I can tell you that the government estimates that creative industries, i.e. the arts and humanities, generated £126bn in gross value added to the economy and employed 2.4 million people in 2022. Have you ever read a book, watched a film, been to the theatre?

      • I’ve a library of 100’s of books, and I also, quite successfully, research, write, edit, proof-read, publish and promote my own books – all without ANY funding or free/cheap courses. Now, if I can do this, someone who left school with zero qualifications and whose main career for years was as a labourer on building sites, then so can anyone with a little determination and talent.

        I DO get that it’s often as much a social thing as anything, but where do you suggest cutbacks are made instead? Charging an entrance fee to Turner Contemporary, perhaps?

        Incidentally Karen, I know I often disagree with your comments, but with your local knowledge and commitment to the area, I feel you could’ve made an excellent MP. Let’s hope Polly Billington turns out OK… and complains in the strongest terms to KCC.

        • Peter Checksfield. Are your books published by the Big Five, or come to that other major publishers? Potential writers need to be nurtured and inspired as well as educated on the publishing world. They got that in bucketloads from my adult education classes.
          attendees have paid for classes so its not as if these classes were free. Perhaps cut some of the managers in the education services?

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