County council still falling short on adult education

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West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is still not doing enough to manage education for adults and young people.

The service, which the council sub-contracts to education charity Aspire Sussex Ltd, was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted last year – and a recent monitoring inspection found some concerns had not been addressed.

Records of safeguarding incidents had been judged as weak. In his report, published on February 17, lead inspector Bob Cowdrey said: “At this visit it was apparent that WSCC managers had done little to remedy this weakness. It is important that issues raised are resolved appropriately.”

Mr Cowdrey also noted that, although senior WSCC managers were represented on Aspire’s board of trustees, the council continued to “take insufficient responsibility for managing the contract”.

A council spokesman said a robust improvement plan had been developed since the last inspection and would be discussed by the children and young people’s services select committee on March 9.

She added: “Whilst some work has already taken place, we realise there is still more to be done.”

The spokesman pointed out the service had been rated ‘good’ in three areas, including the quality of teaching.

Mr Cowdrey acknowledged improvements in the teaching in English and maths and said more students were staying on their courses than in previous years.

He also recognised the work carried out to protect learners from the risk of radicalisation or extremism, but said it was too soon to judge whether these actions have made an impact.

Councillor Chirs Oxlade (Lab, Bewbush and Ifield West) called the report “condemning” and “very embarrassing for West Sussex”.

He added: “Aspire have done their best under very difficult circumstances with very little leadership or management of the contract.

“Without the leadership of WSCC to manage the service, it’s a downward spiral.

“The buck stops at the county council and it’s clear in the Ofsted report that that’s who they hold responsible.”

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