Agenda and minutes

Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee
Thursday, 25th April, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Oak Room, County Buildings, Stafford

Contact: Julie Roberts  Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


There were none at this meeting.


Minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 1 March 2019 pdf icon PDF 80 KB


RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 1 March 2019 be confirmed and signed by the Vice Chairman.


Community Learning Annual Self-Assessment & 2019-2023 Strategy and Priorities pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Learning and Employability

Additional documents:


The Committee considered the Annual Self-Assessment of the Community Learning Service.  Members were also asked to approve the Community Learning Strategy and priorities for the Service for 2019-2023.


Members were informed that the Skills and Employability Service focused on a range of education and training opportunities to meet the needs of learners, the economy and the wider community, and supported delivery of the LEP priorities.  The report to the Committee was about the Community Learning provision that the Service provided in Staffordshire.  The portfolio of work included Community Learning and adult classroom-based learning.  Members were asked to comment on the annual performance of the Community Learning provision, in order to further improve quality, outcomes for learners and in remaining a good learning provider.


Members were informed that the Service had engaged with 4658 learners over the past year, with a diverse range of providers around the County.  The quality of the provision was very good, with the Service’s own assessment based on the Ofsted framework, showing that 97% of the sessions were judged good or better.  Over the past few years the provision had had more of a leisure learning focus than the Service would like moving forward, and had been highlighted by the Committee the previous year.  The focus of the new Strategy was on the County Council’s Strategic Priorities, in particular assisting care leavers, adults with low skills particularly in English and Maths, working with people who had learning disabilities or mental health issues, those on state benefits and those from minority ethnic groups who struggled to access employment. A further focus was on families and family learning.  Another Strategic priority was around health and emotional well-being.


The Committee considered details of how funding would be used and noted that there was a shift to direct it towards the priorities outlined.  Leisure, health and wellbeing were now all grouped together, with the emphasis being on the health and wellbeing element.  There would be an investment of £6m from the ESFA over the four-year period. 


Members commented that they were pleased to see the Strategy aligned to the Council’s Strategic Priorities, specifically in relation to employment and better paid jobs and the focus on digital skills development but asked if the targets were challenging enough.  A member raised several questions in relation to Family English, Maths and Language and emphasised the importance of this for families where parents struggled to help their children.  It had been recognised that the Family Learning provision in previous years had been underperforming and it was acknowledged that while the number of enrolments were smaller for 2017-18 the quality of provision was now a lot better.  There was now a better relationship with schools, whereas previously the Service had relied on sub-contractors.  For the forthcoming year £200,000 would be invested in this area, which would expand the provision.  There were also more schools engaged with providing the courses and the intention was to increase this and encourage schools to interact more with their communities  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.


Career Learning Pilot Presentation pdf icon PDF 760 KB


The Committee received a presentation on the Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire Career Learning Pilot.  Staffordshire had been one of six pilot areas selected by the DfE to participate in the pilot, which was aimed at supporting the Government’s ambition for an adult education system that helps people upskill and reskill throughout their working lives.  It was intended to drive up skills levels of people in work and help to improve productivity.  It presented Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire LEP with an opportunity to test out new approaches to improving skills of the workforce in the LEP area.  Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire LEP and partners had worked together to develop and design the pilot to meet local labour and market needs.  The pilot qualifications (level 3 and above) could only be delivered by partners who already had Advanced Learner Loan facilities and premises in Staffordshire.  The key things the DfE wanted to test as part of these pilots were: how best to reach adults who are in work and low skilled, or close to returning to the labour market, this also included the use of face-to-face career guidance by the National Career Service; and whether reducing the cost of courses made targeted adults more likely to do economically valuable learning matched to local need.  Key target audiences were selected and key messages put out to those target groups.


Members received details of campaign activities; priority sectors, qualifications and discounts; delivery partners; delivery plan costs; risks and mitigations; and issues and barriers.  They were informed that the evaluation would focus on different outreach and engagement approaches.  Initial feedback had suggested that the pilot in the Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire LEP area had been one of the most successful.  The pilot in Staffordshire had tested the County Council being the lead marketing authority, whilst in other areas national bodies had been used to market the courses.  The success of the pilot in Staffordshire demonstrated that the local authority was a trusted messenger in our communities, as opposed to a national organisation without a good local understanding.  The pilot had shown that local marketing campaigns, using a broad range of different means, did have an effect in generating interest. A significant item of feedback was that cost was a key issue and people were very concerned about burdening themselves with debt in order to learn, so the offer to reduce the cost in order to encourage people to access training was key.


Members asked what the next steps would be, following the pilot. They were informed that the results would be available in September to indicate how many learners had actually completed courses.  Members commented that it was important for adults of any background to be able to engage with learning and that there are certain skills which were lacking in the County, such as money management.  They suggested the provision of simple courses which help people manage life better.  It was acknowledged that the skills agenda had many facets to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 183 KB


The Committee considered their Work Programme for 2018/19 and were thanked for their contribution to this.  Members were informed that the draft Work Programme for 2019/20 would be brought to the next meeting, but that this currently reflected a considerable range and volume of work.  Consequently they were encouraged to consider innovative ways in which this might be managed, for example via a number of Working Groups, to ensure that thorough and effective scrutiny would take place. It was agreed that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman would meet with officers in the near future for initial discussions on this.



a)    The Work Programme for 2018/19 be noted;

b)    The Chairman and Vice-Chairman will meet with officers for initial discussions on the draft Work Programme for 2019/20; and

c)    The draft Work Programme for 2019/20 will be brought for consideration to the next meeting of the Select Committee in June.