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MPs put spotlight on adult learning in Lyme Regis
THE work of LymeNet’s adult teaching came under the national spotlight at Commons question time last week.
The adult community learning centre in Lyme Regis had written to several MPs about the continued cuts in funding and one of LymeNet’s learning advisers met Stephen Timms MP to explain their work.
As a result of the letter West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin has also scheduled a meeting in November with LymeNet centre manager Lucy Campbell and Marcus Dixon, chief executive of Lyme Regis Development Trust.
It was Mr Timms who sang the praises of the enterprise during the parliamentary debate last week, saying: “LymeNet was set up in 1999.
“I saw their great work on visiting the Axminster Methodist job club over the summer. Rural areas can’t afford the loss of community learning which is now on the cards.”
Matthew Hancock MP, Business Innovation and Skills Minister said in difficult fiscal times the budget for community learning has been protected by the government.
Ms Campbell said: “Unfortunately, both Mr Timms and Mr Hancock, both referred to cuts in a specific funding pot called, ‘Community Learning’, which hasn’t been cut yet – and we were talking about a different funding pot. “Nevertheless, we were very pleased to have been mentioned and that our story had been taken to the Houses of Commons.”
Since the debate LymeNet has been contacted by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills wanting to know more about its situation and has asked for more written detail.
Ms Campbell added: “There are no promises being made but we are just pleased that somebody noticed our letter and made comment on it. We are really pleased that someone listened. We are quite unique.
“A lot of other adult learning comes through big colleges or is run by the local authority and we are a bit different to that. They wanted lots of information about what it was like on the ground, how we deliver and how we get contracts.”
The department said they could not promise policy change but wanted feedback about changes government makes and what happens on the ground, she said.
One of the things Ms Campbell explained was the devastating effect cuts made by the Skills Funding Agency for adult numeracy, literacy and IT qualifications in the last year.
She said funding had not been cut in the current year but still remained at the same low rate that did not remotely cover the costs.
She said: “For example the amount for a numeracy qualification was cut per learner by 59 per cent and for IT by 44 per cent.
“That cut was a big blow but was just one cut out of many, many things that have been reduced over the years.”