Learndirect is a large provider of adult education and training under contract to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). It also provides services to other government departments, including the professional skills test for prospective teachers for the Department for Education, the ‘Life in the UK’ citizenship test for the Home Office and the work programme for the Department for Work and Pensions. In all it delivers training for around 80,000 people a year, and tests for more than 150,000 people. Our priority is to protect those learners and avoid disruption to testing services.
In order to protect provision for learners and ensure an orderly rundown of contracts, all existing Adult Education Budget (AEB) contract holders who did not participate in the recent procurement or who were unsuccessful have been offered a contract extension for the period 1 November 2017 to 31 July 2018. The extensions are equivalent to 49% of their 2016/17 allocation. Learndirect Ltd originally submitted a bid for this procurement but withdrew it before its conclusion, so were offered an extension on this basis, which equates to £29.19m. All providers offered this extension are not able to secure any further extension after July 2018.
We have agreed to extend Learndirect’s contract for adult education in order to protect the large number of learners and avoid disruption to other government services delivered by this provider. This decision also reflects the fact that Learndirect’s adult education provision, and their leadership and management, was graded 3 by Ofsted at the recent inspection. Learndirect’s provision will be subject to regular monitoring arrangements during the rundown, and if we have any concerns about the quality of delivery we will take action. If we had not agreed to extend Learndirect’s contract in this way the large number of learners currently on courses and other government services could have been at risk. The ESFA will closely monitor Learndirect’s performance during the extended contract and will take action if there are any concerns.
AEB funding levels for 2017/18 for individual contract-based providers were determined either by the outcome of the procurement, or the standard methodology that applies to run down contracts that is set out above. There were separate arrangements in place for allocating funding to grant-based providers, which includes most colleges.
In order to ensure continuity of provision for learners, all existing AEB contract holders, including Learndirect Ltd, were issued with a three-month contract extension for the period 1 August to 31 October 2017 to bridge the period between the end of the previous funding year and the commencement of the period after the procurement. All providers were offered the same percentage (26%) of their 2016/17 allocation. For Learndirect Ltd this equates to £15.96m.