Adult education classes in Somerset on hold owing to cash shortfall

  • 5 September 2017
  • From the section Somerset

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SS&L provides courses to 10,000 people across the county

Hundreds of people who signed up for adult education courses in Somerset have received letters informing them their courses have been postponed.

Course provider SS&L is facing a funding gap of nearly £3m following cuts in government money.

The organisation, which employs about 200 people, and provides courses to 10,000 people, said it was trying to “turn things around”.

The Department for Education has yet to comment.

SS&L, formerly known as Somerset Skills and Learning, was awarded £111,000 by the government to last from November to July next year.

Typically it receives about £3m for the period, its director of curriculum and business development, Kathryn Baker said.

‘Alarm bells’

Previously part of Somerset County Council, the company became a separate social enterprise in August 2015. The not-for-profit company was set up and run by the staff who were part of the council.

It offers a range of training courses at 10 centres across the county, from apprenticeships to adult education courses.

Its website currently offers 252 courses, from GCSEs to evening classes in jewellery making.

One course member, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I was told by the person who answered the phone that the government had cancelled their grant.

“I was told no refunds were being made – that’s when alarm bells started to ring for me.”

Jobs risk

SS&L director Kathryn Baker said: “Courses are being postponed while we try to turn things around.

“We have a phone call scheduled with the funding authority today (Tues) to try and find out more details”

A member of staff, who also wishes to remain anonymous, told the BBC they and their colleagues had been told they could all lose their jobs.

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