Adult Education: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 16th September 2020.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to help ensure the safety of adults with additional needs (a) travelling to and (b) taking part in activities at adult education centres during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

It is our priority to make sure that all students return to education this September as this is the best place for their education, development and wellbeing. Colleges are making every effort to ensure students and staff are as safe as possible for face to face teaching and are confident they will achieve this.

The department has published guidance which sets out how further education colleges can reopen safely for all learners, including those that are older or vulnerable. The guidance has been developed in close consultation with sector and medical experts from Public Health England. It sets out in detail the steps colleges should take to protect their staff and learners with a requirement to undertake full health and safety COVID-19 risk assessments and implement the September reopening protective measures. The full guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision/what-fe-colleges-and-providers-will-need-to-do-from-the-start-of-the-2020-autumn-term.

In many areas, students make extensive use of the wider public transport system, particularly public buses, to travel to education. Students and staff using public transport should refer to the Department for Transport’s safer travel guidance for passengers which can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers.

Further education providers are being advised to work with their local authority to consider the transport needs of students with special educational needs and disabilities and those with an education, health and care plan and to identify when it might be necessary to take steps to manage demand on public transport or to arrange additional transport. Local transport authorities have received additional funding for school and college dedicated transport to support students in their region return to further education providers. More information regarding this funding is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/multi-million-pound-funding-package-for-school-transport.

The 16-19 bursary fund offers financial support for students who need additional support in a range of areas including accessing digital learning, and other forms of support. For adults we are introducing changes to the Adult Education Budget funding rules for the 2020 to 2021 academic year. This is to enable providers to use learner support funds to purchase IT devices for students aged 19 plus and to help them meet students’ IT connectivity costs, where these costs are a barrier to accessing or continuing in their training.

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