Optimism over fate of Norfolk’s adult education service

Wensum Lodge in Norwich, where the adult education service is based.

Wensum Lodge in Norwich, where the adult education service is based. - Credit: Archant

The threat of closure to Norfolk County Council's adult education service is 'very serious', councillors have admitted, but stressed they are on the right track to turning it around.

The service was branded 'inadequate' by Ofsted last month, following a week-long inspection. And, if watchdogs are similarly unimpressed when they re-inspect the service next year, then the Education Funding Agency could pull its money and the service would have to close.

However, Paul Smyth, chairman of the communities committee at Norfolk County Council, said efforts to improve the service would reap rewards.

He said: 'It is very serious. Closure is an option if a second report is bad and confirms the failures of the first.

'But we have set up a steering group and have been able to talk through the improvements we need to make.' He set an advisor from Ofsted was acting as a 'critical friend' and that the country's further education commissioner had drafted a report.

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Mr Smyth said: 'He has some concerns which we are alive to, but he also said what is in the pipeline is looking good. But it will not be until next year that we know.'

Services offered through adult education include apprenticeships, programmes for 16-18-year-olds after leaving school, and work to help people gain skills to boost their job prospects, as well as courses on yoga, needlecraft and foreign languages.

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