Just reading the Exec Summary and recommendations of the Wolf Report led me to wonder if there are implications for adult education.
As has been said, her report proposes:
- a radical simplification of the FE funding mechanism funding students not qualifications
- Much greater freedom for institutions to decide what they teach and a reduced role for government and quangos
- Greater emphasis on a core vocational curriculum with Maths and English as central
- Confirmation of a high quality vocational education route from 16 alongside apprenticeships and A levels
It's pretty scathing on a number of fronts - particularly about the use of qualifications as a proxy for skills. Professor Wolf has been a long time critic of the vocational strategy since the Leitch Report and the ill-fated 'demand-led' approach of the last few years characterised by Train to Gain. This report argues that the current system has failed thousands of young people. Does that have anything to do with adult education?
It certainly questions the notion that qualifications, in themselves, are the answer to anything. Moreover, it recommends funding for 16-18 year olds to be on a programme basis rather than by qualification or learning aim code. It withdraws any obligation for vocational qualifications for 16-18s to be in the Qualifications & Credit Framework (QCF) and it offers an entitlement to people who don't complete their education before 19 to have it credited when they are an adult (there is a rather optimistic suggestion that Unique Learner Numbers 'should make this straightforward').
The focus is much more about the whole programme, including valued qualifications and its impact. This includes the recommendation that local employers in the assessment and awarding process.
So, do the recommendations throw doubt on the post 19 funding system which is driven by learning aim codes entirely (from next August) within the QCF? Does it encourage thinking about whole programmes of education and training situated within local circumstances with well recognised qualifications embedded within them? Many have welcomed the recommendations to allow QTLS to be recognised in schools but, within these recommendations there must also be messages for adult learning around the purpose of learning programmes, where they fit in peoples lives, communities and workplaces and that qualifications mean nothing if they're not in a context where they can be applied or lead to progression.