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Learn Devon Strategic Plan

Foreword – Cllr Roger Croad

Devon County Council has a strong tradition of helping adults continue to learn throughout their lives, research shows that this results in individuals who are healthier, happier and have greater self-esteem and confidence. Adult learning helps people stay active, develop new or existing skills and get back into work as well as contributing to the improvement of society, community and the economy.

Adult learning can also support communities to grow and develop, enabling them to have the skills and confidence to shape their own future. It can help local businesses identify and develop the skills they need for today and tomorrow and can increase the employability of individuals, in particular young adults through the provision of apprenticeships and traineeships.

I would encourage people to take the opportunity to develop their skills towards employment or volunteering, broaden their interest or simply add a new experience and meet new people. Simply visit the Learn Devon website to take a look at the courses we have on offer or talk to a member of staff who will be pleased to help, our contact details can be found at the end of this document.

Our Aim

To deliver high-quality learning experiences to support the personal, social, health and economic development of individuals and communities, thereby contributing to the corporate vision of creating a safe and healthy place where people have choice, control, and good employment opportunities.

Introduction

National context

Learn Devon is externally funded by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and Education Funding Agency (EFA). The core central government strategy document on which this funding is based is ‘Fixing the foundations: creating a more prosperous nation’ (HM Treasury, July 2015).

Characteristics of Devon

Devon, excluding Plymouth and Torbay, is the third largest county in England and has the fourteenth highest population with around 773,000 residents. The population is growing, with a rise in the number of older people living in the county and with around 12,100 adults in care (or supported to live at home). 

Population is mainly centred on the 28 Devon market and coastal towns and the city of Exeter. However, the large rural nature of the county does present particular problems in ensuring that learning opportunities are directed at those most in need.

Learn Devon as an organisation

Learn Devon is hosted by Devon County Council, funded primarily through the Skills Funding Agency, Education Funding Agency and learner fees, according to agreed national priorities and guidance on how this funding can be used.

Learn Devon has provided Adult and Community Learning courses and nationally accredited qualifications in Devon for more than 20 years. We operate through a bank of over 350 qualified, experienced teaching professionals together with formal arrangements with a number of partner organisations offering specialist expertise in certain disciplines.

As part of the Council we provide access to, and benefit from, a range of services that further support the learners with whom we work.

As a registered training provider, we work to Further Education standards set by Ofsted. Learn Devon currently has an Ofsted rating of “2: Good”. Key findings from the most recent Ofsted report are as follows:

  • Learners develop very good personal and social skills.
  • Teaching, learning and assessment are good.
  • Learners are very well supported.
  • Most learners are achieving their learning goals.
  • Information advice and guidance are very good, ensuring that learners are on the appropriate courses and are able to move on to further learning at DACL (now Learn Devon) and elsewhere.
  • The management of subcontractors is very effective with some excellent partnership work in the community.

Governance

Learn Devon has a Governance Board comprised of:

  • Devon County Council Elected Member: Adult and Community Learning Portfolio Holder (Chair).
  • Devon County Council Elected Member: by appointment.
  • Senior Officer: Head of Economy, Enterprise and Skills.
  • Senior Officer: Learn Devon Operations Manager – to represent the service and senior management.
  • Staff Representative – one by election of staff group.
  • External governors – two by appointment.

The Board provides strategy and scrutiny, including the approval and monitoring of an annual business plan.

Our priorities

Learn Devon has a wealth of experience working with some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our communities to improve their employment and career opportunities, health, well-being and independence, as well as working with families to support the development of their children alongside improving their own skills.

Over the past few years we have responded to public sector finance reductions and other pressures on the adult learning environment by streamlining and modernising our service delivery and by focusing our programme of activity on those most in need of our support.

In this strategic plan, we set out how our priorities support Devon County Council’s aims for Devon’s communities to be resilient, healthy, prosperous, connected and safe (Strategic Plan, 2014-2020: ‘Better Together’).

We also set out how our work supports some of the desired outcomes highlighted in ‘A Prospectus for Prosperity’, a proposal by the Heart of the South West, Local Enterprise Partnership, to government for devolution of powers in March 2016.

Supporting young people

Devolution for the Heart of the South West: Key Productivity Outcomes

  • Every young person in education, employment or training.
  • Apprenticeship starts increased by 400%.

Devon County Council’s aims

  • Prosperous – where Devon’s economic growth becomes stronger and benefits all.
  • Safe – where everyone feels secure and confident to enjoy life and thrive within a safe county.

How we are working to help achieve these outcomes

We support young people to improve their academic qualifications, employment skills and vocational skills across Devon.

Reaching the disadvantaged and vulnerable

Hair @ the Academy are one of several subcontractors who work with Learn Devon to enable us to reach those learners who would not otherwise access learning.

Hair @ the Academy deliver a programme of vocational courses to people who are vulnerable, disadvantaged and in need of support to enable them to complete their course.

They have great success rates with both adults and young people, and the course is designed to encourage participants to move into work, often setting up as self-employed hairdressers or barbers.

We offer:

  • A range of apprenticeships for those ready to develop a career.
  • Traineeships to provide valuable work experience with employers that often lead to employment and further training.
  • Supported distance learning for those aged 16-19 who are unable to engage with the traditional school environment and are seeking Further or Higher Education routes.

Supporting the unemployed

Devolution for the Heart of the South West: Key Productivity Outcomes

  • 163,000 new jobs.
  • Additional tax revenue for the Treasury of £113million per year.
  • Apprenticeship starts increased by 400%.
  • £1billion per year welfare benefits savings as more people enter employment.

Devon County Council’s aims

  • Prosperous – where Devon’s economic growth becomes stronger and benefits all.

How we are working to help achieve these outcomes

We support the long-term unemployed, those on sickness benefits and those who are furthest from the employment market to improve skills, confidence and knowledge, enabling them to enter employment for education and training.

  • We work with the homeless delivering English, Maths and IT qualifications or supporting them to improve their confidence and business skills.

Helping those who are hardest to reach

Learn Devon’s programme working with the homeless and vulnerably housed population in Exeter has had some significant results.

Working closely with other agencies such as Rise recovery, Bournemouth Churches Housing Association and Julian House, we are helping people re-engage with society, build their self-esteem and remain in accommodation.

We have taught people to read and write, enabled those recovering from substance abuse to find employment and provided meaningful occupation for those at the beginning of their recovery journey. Our personal yet professional response to those hardest to reach is breaking new ground, offering stability and continuity to people living with chaos and uncertainty.

  • We work with the long-term unemployed to help them gain English, Maths and IT skills leading to qualifications, and support them in accessing employment. In addition, we offer friendly, bespoke support to those who are experiencing personal difficulties, often working with other agencies to address these in a holistic manner.

Training the long-term unemployed for jobs

When Tesco built a new store in Tavistock, part of the planning criteria was that they trained and employed 30 people who were long-term unemployed.

Learn Devon put together a package of training that included customer service and food-hygiene qualifications with additional signposting to maths and English courses. Working with the Job Centre and Tesco, we were able to recruit learners for this training.

The outcomes were that the learners who attended all of the training were guaranteed a job at the end of the training. There was a celebration ceremony to present certificates and uniforms for the new staff.

This was a very successful collaboration between a corporate business, Job Centre Plus and Learn Devon.

Upskilling the workforce

Devolution for the Heart of the South West: Key Productivity Outcomes

  • Infrastructure that supports Heart of the South West’s ambitious plans.
  • Wage levels higher than the national average.
  • Additional tax revenue for the Treasury of £113million per year.

Devon County Council’s aims

  • Prosperous – where Devon’s economic growth becomes stronger and benefits all.

How we are working to help achieve these outcomes

We support a range of learners to improve their skills and knowledge enabling them not only to perform effectively in their current role but also to improve their opportunities for promotion.

  • We deliver social care qualifications to staff in both community and residential settings, building on existing practice to ensure they meet national standards.
  • We deliver English and Maths to employees, ensuring they have the central skills to work effectively in the workplace.
  • We deliver ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) provision to employees and those seeking work, supporting employment and improving community cohesion enabling individuals to engage more fully in the communities in which they live and work.

Support families and developing communities

Devolution for the Heart of the South West: Key Productivity Outcomes

  • Additional tax revenue for the Treasury of £113million per year.
  • £1billion per year welfare benefits savings as more people enter employment.

Devon County Council’s aims

  • Safe – where everyone feels secure and confident to enjoy life and thrive within a safe county.
  • Prosperous – where Devon’s economic growth becomes stronger and benefits all.

How we are working to help achieve these outcomes

We support individuals in playing a more positive role in families and communities by developing social and functional skills

  • We support community learning projects, enabling individuals to engage more fully in community social life and promoting civic engagement and community-led decision making.
  • We work in children’s centres to help families in supporting their children to achieve their potential at school. Parents gain self-esteem and confidence in supporting their children with English and Maths, while at the same time improving their own skills.
  • We work with other agencies to support parents’ return to work when their children start school.

Learning for individuals with disabilities or learning difficulties

Devolution for the Heart of the South West: Key Productivity Outcomes

  • Additional tax revenue for the Treasury of £113million per year.
  • £1billion per year welfare benefits savings as more people enter employment.
  • Apprenticeship starts increased by 400%.

Devolution for the Heart of the South West: Key Health and Care Outcomes

  • People all ages are encouraged and supported to make healthy lifestyle choices and manage their own care, promoting independence.

Devon County Council’s aims

  • Resilient – where the resourceful people and communities of Devon can become even stronger and more self-sufficient.
  • Safe – where everyone feels secure and confident to enjoy life and thrive within a safe county.
  • Healthy – where people can lead active and independent lives in Devon’s outstanding environment.

How we are working to help achieve these outcomes

We work directly with those with learning difficulties or physical disabilities and with carers to support independent living, community engagement, social activity and a return towards employment.

  • We support and develop the skills of adults with learning difficulties so that they can live independently and engage in local communities. Learners are supported with discrete learning plans to progress their individual living and employability skills and also participate in our public programme of courses. We work with adults with physical disabilities to develop their skills, confidence and abilities in a range of subject areas.
  • We work with carers to develop the skills and develop a support programme for those with learning difficulties or physical disabilities; with a view to assisting a return to employment or volunteering.

Improving mental health

Devolution for the Heart of the South West: Key Productivity Outcomes

  • £1billion per year welfare benefits savings as more people enter employment.

Devolution for the Heart of the South West: Key Health and Care Outcomes

  • Better physical and mental health outcomes.
  • People of all ages are encouraged and supported to make healthy lifestyle choices and manage their own care, promoting independence.

Devon County Council’s aims

  • Healthy – where people can lead active and independent lives in Devon’s outstanding environment.

How we are working to help achieve these outcomes

We work with both employed and unemployed learners to improve mental health to support entry or re-entry into the labour market. We provide, together with our partners, both bespoke courses and supported access to our public programme.

  • We are part of a national pilot looking at the impact of community learning and mental health. We have worked with mental health charity MIND, St Loye’s Foundation – a charity that provides support to people with disabilities and mental health issues ­– and Exeter College to deliver a range of interventions that have been clinically evaluated to demonstrate an improvement in mental health.
  • We provide bespoke art courses supporting learners in improving their confidence and wellbeing.
  • We offer counselling courses through our partner organisations. Many learners progress to employment as a result.

Supporting strategies

The work of Learn Devon is underpinned by supporting strategies that help us to achieve our goals.

Excellent customer service

  • To resolve customer problems at the earliest opportunity
  • To provide clear information, advice and guidance (IAG), through national IAG standards, signposting to learning opportunities within and beyond the service.
  • To improve learner experience monitored through learner surveys and experience.
  • To ensure our web pages provide current and accurate information.
  • To engage with communities and user groups to develop and inform future service delivery.
  • To maintain and develop our new Management Information System (MIS) and to improve quality monitoring procedures in order to streamline processes, support staff and provide consistency in service delivery.

Recruit, develop and retain high-performing staff

  • To recruit staff who are innovative, motivated and positive about delivering an excellent learner experience.
  • To continue to support continuous professional development and to support staff in becoming competent across the range of functions necessary to reflect the requirements of our evolving structure.

Maintain a sound financial base and provide better value for money

  • A fees structure that reflects the service user’s ability to pay. In broad terms our course fees are based on the guiding principle that those who can pay should pay.
  • An infrastructure strategy that facilitates an accessible, first-class, modern learning experience in the most cost-effective manner possible.
  • To measure outcomes and impacts to demonstrate the value of our work to individuals and communities.
  • To continue to seek improvement and efficiency savings through the use of new technology and innovative methods of service delivery.
  • To continue to develop partnership working with an emphasis on delivering local outcomes in line with corporate objectives.
  • To actively seek additional funding from alternative sources including options to maximise income though its various services to the business and wider community.

Successful learners and continuous improvement

  • To achieve learner success rates above national benchmarks.
  • To provide quality of teaching and learning to a level that Ofsted judges to be outstanding.
  • To ensure appropriate progression routes into further learning or employment.
  • To provide excellent learner support, progression and funding opportunities.
  • To provide learning facilities which are recognised as first class.

Key performance indicators

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