Adult education can improve health and wellbeing, skills and employability, and increase community cohesion and civic partnership. 1

Summary

Adult education services in Merton are provided mainly by South Thames College and Merton Adult Education Service (MAES), a division within Merton Council’s Community and Housing Department.

MAES operates out of three main centres and a number of venues such as libraries, children’s centres and other community locations across the borough 2. MAES delivers courses annually to over 5,000 learners. Programmes are delivered under three distinct contracts: Adult Skills Budget (ASB); Community Learning; and 16-18 Funding. Programmes are assessed against the Ofsted inspection framework, with self-assessments performed on a regular basis. The 2011 Ofsted inspection report2 graded MAES as good.

MAES has identified the following gaps:

  • Unfulfilled need for services
    • English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) courses; MAES is unable to meet the current demand for these courses.
  • Areas for improvement
    • Progression and destination capture.
    • A need for a community learning strategy document.
    • Areas of provision that fell below minimum performance levels.

The Ofsted report2 highlighted the following needs:

  • Further develop recent strategies to improve retention, and so success rates, particularly for accredited provision.
  • Improve the quality and use of individual learning plans by ensuring that targets give students meaningful goals that teachers use to plan effective lessons.
  • Ensure that the service has more effective and comprehensive measures in place to gather and respond to users’ views across the provision.

Key commissioning recommendations (MAES)

  • Respond to Ofsted recommendations.
  • Develop closer links/commissioning related to health and prevention, identifying opportunities to embed health issues in existing courses.
  • Expand ESOL classes to meet unmet demand.

Key facts on adult education services in Merton

Adult education services in Merton are provided mainly by South Thames College and Merton Adult Education Service (MAES), a division within Merton Council’s Community and Housing Department.

South Thames College

South Thames College provides Adult and Higher Education Services in Merton. Adult education courses are available in:

Vocational and professional training, including:

  • MBAs
  • Accountancy qualifications
  • Plumbing
  • Access to nursing courses.

Leisure courses, including classes in:

  • Business
  • Languages
  • Fitness
  • Cookery.

English and maths courses, including:

  • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
  • GCSE English and maths
  • English for International Students
  • Basic English and maths.

Higher education courses; including:

  • Art, Craft and Graphic Design
  • Business and Administration
  • Childcare, Health, Care and Science
  • Computing and IT
  • Engineering
  • Games Design and Development
  • Hair, Beauty and Complementary Therapy
  • Hospitality and Catering
  • Music and Performing Arts
  • Sport
  • Teaching and Training
  • Travel and Tourism.

Merton Adult Education Service (MAES)

MAES operates out of three main centres and a number of venues such as libraries, children’s centres and other community locations across the borough.3 MAES delivers courses annually to over 5,000 learners. Programmes are delivered under three distinct contracts:

Adult Skills Budget (ASB): Qualification programmes based on a formula related to the number of learning hours generated. First Steps courses are short non-qualification courses designed to support progression into further education.

Community Learning: Non-qualification courses, including Personal Community Development Learning, Family Leaning, Family English and Maths, and Neighbourhood Learning for Deprived Communities.

16-18 Funding: Qualification programmes for 16-18 year olds. The service offers a broad range of programmes across 10 subject areas, available six days a week and over four evenings. Around four fifths of provision is non-accredited adult safeguarded learning. MAES receives around three quarters of its funding from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), the remainder deriving from course fees and project funding.2

The objective of MAES is to increase the skills, knowledge and educational attainment of adults through the provision of a range of accredited and non- accredited courses. The course offering is developed in response to both government priorities and emerging local needs.3

Programmes are assessed against the Ofsted inspection framework, with self-assessments performed on a regular basis. The 2011 Ofsted inspection report2 graded MAES as good.

 

Key statistics for MAES (SAR 2011-2012):4

Total enrolments6,915 
Total learners3,533 
16-18 learners27 
Accredited learners (ASB)1,185 
Non accredited learners (CL)2,766 
Income generated learners30 
Total new learners1,121 
New accredited learners374 
New non-accredited learners912 
   
Male75321%
Female2,78079%
   
Non-white1,16633%
White2,32666%
   
Under 252447%
25-592,73477%
60+55516%
   
Total staff154(121 tutors

Student profile by programme

ASB qualification student profile

  • 36% of learners live in a disadvantaged ward
  • 70% of learners are non-white
  • 21% of learners are Eastern European
  • 63% of learners are looking for work.

Community Learning (Non-qualification) student profile

  • 27% of learners live in a disadvantaged ward
  • 45% of learners are non-white
  • 14% of learners are Eastern European.

What are the gaps?

MAES has identified the following gaps:

  • Unfulfilled need for services
    • ESOL courses; MAES is unable to meet the current demand for these courses.
    • ESOL courses; MAES is unable to meet the current demand for these courses.
  • Areas for Improvement
    • Progression and destination capture
    • A need for a community learning strategy document
    • Areas of provision that fell below minimum performance levels:
      • RHS – what is this?
      • Mind and Body
      • Skills for Life.

The Ofsted report2 highlighted the following needs:

  • Further develop recent strategies to improve retention, and so success rates, particularly for accredited provision.
  • Improve the quality and use of individual learning plans by ensuring that targets give students meaningful goals that teachers use to plan effective lessons.
  • Ensure that the service has more effective and comprehensive measures in place to gather and respond to users’ views across the provision.

Key commissioning recommendations (MAES)

  • Respond to Ofsted recommendations.
  • Develop closer links/commissioning related to health and prevention, identifying opportunities to embed health issues in existing courses.
  • Expand ESOL classes to meet unmet demand.

 

Other sources

Cutler, D. and Lleras-Muney, A. (2006). Education and Health: Evaluating Theories and Evidence. NBER Working Paper No. 12352; issued in July 2006.

Dolan, P., Fujiwara, D. and Metcalfe, R. (2012). Review and Update of Research into the Wider Benefits of Adult Learning. BIS Research Paper Number 90. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Feinstein, L., Budge, D., Vorhaus, J. and Duckworth, K. (2008). The social and personal benefits of learning: A summary of key research findings October 2008. Institute of Education.

Grossman, M. and Kaestner, R. (1997). ‘Effects of education on health’, in: J. Behrman & N. Stacey (eds.), The Social Benefits of Education, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, pp. 69-123.

Lleras-Muney, A. (2005). ‘The Relationship between Education and Adult Mortality in the United States’. The Review of Economic Studies; Vol. 72, No. 1; pp. 189-221. Oxford University Press.

Sassi, F., Devaux, M., Church, J., Cecchini, M. and Borgonovi, F. (2009). Education and obesity in four OECD countries 2009. OECD Health Working Papers, 46. OECD.

References

1. ^ Dolan, P., Fujiwara, D. and Metcalfe, R. (2009). Review and Update of Research into the Wider Benefits of Adult Learning. BIS Research Paper Number 90. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

2. ^ a b c d e f g Ofsted (2011). Merton Adult Education Service (MAES): Inspection Report.

3. ^ MAES Community Action Plan, Sept 2013- Aug 2014.

4. ^ MAE Self-Assessment Report (SAR), 2011-12.