Adult Education cuts

PUBLISHED: 12:30 18 November 2008 | UPDATED: 22:36 15 June 2010

AXE Valley students and teachers fear adult education could be coming to an end after many courses were cut from the timetable. Teachers at St Clare s in Fore Street, Seaton were sent an e-mail showing a new syllabus was being introduced, with more emph

AXE Valley students and teachers fear adult education could be coming to an end after many courses were cut from the timetable.

Teachers at St Clare's in Fore Street, Seaton were sent an e-mail showing a new syllabus was being introduced, with more emphasis on exam-based courses.

Spanish teacher Josefina Gori and French teacher Linda Jackson believe Devon County Council is making the move in a bid to reduce the services offered and save money.

They are concerned, not only will they be left without work, but that older students will lose out both educationally and socially.

Mrs Jackson said: "Why should it be that an older person doesn't have the same right to government spending? I feel aggrieved and it's totally short sighted. Not making provisions for older people will have a knock on effect. Older people flourish when they can keep up their social connections and keep their brains alive, and be fully functionally members of a community.

"I feel I have betrayed my students who have come in with an expectation to do another course but now we have to say sorry about that but we have nowhere to go."

Student Charles Lulham, aged 66, from South Street in Colyton, was disappointed his two hour sessions of French would no longer be available.

He said for many people it offered stimulation and a brief reprieve from the daily challenges older people face, such as loneliness or looking after a sick partner.

He said: "I feel they're closing adult education down by the back door. It makes me feel sad that a great educational opportunity is going to be lost. And once it's lost it's not going to come back. The only opportunity to take action to avert this calamity is now."

Mrs Gori, who has been teaching for 28 years, said she has seen students aged 84 and 74 pass A'Levels in Spanish.

She believes learning keeps the mind active in old age and for one woman it helped her cope with grief after the death of her husband.

A spokesman for Devon's Adult and Community Learning agreed there was more emphasis on exam based courses and said they were fighting for fairer funding which would allow flexibility.

He said: "We are totally in the hands of the government's Learning and Skills Council (LSC) with regards to the type of courses we provide because we are funded entirely by them.

"Our main funding relies on us providing courses that lead to qualifications because this is the government's priority. We get very little funding for non-qualification courses, and even that is being cut significantly year on year.

"The LSC give us a target for the number of qualification courses we must provide and they remove funding if targets are not met. While we would like to provide more courses that do not necessarily lead to qualifications, we simply do not have the government funding to do so."

* There are three prices quoted in the adult education brochure: a standard price, a price for people over 60, and a price for people on a Means Tested Benefit, such as income support.

ends


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