Funding adult learning in Scotland: the non-formal sector

Neil Findlay, Member of the Scottish Parliament

Neil Findlay, Member of the Scottish Parliament

Neil Findlay, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Lothian, is an inveterate poser of written parliamentary questions. In contrast to the debating chamber, where ministers typically score smarty-pants points off any MSP who challenges them, written questions must be answered. And fortunately, Neil Findlay – a member of the Cross-Parliamentary Group on Adult Learning, is interested in adult learning – presumably because he thinks it an area where the Government is vulnerable.

So far this year he has posed four questions about adult learning, four of them concerning funding. They include this one on Government funding for ‘non-formal adult learning’. Overall, it looks at first sight as though Government has been relatively gentle on this part of the sector. Looking more closely, though, this budget has not changed in cash terms since 2005, and a ten-year standstill in cash terms represents a significant cut in real terms.

New Picture

Incidentally, I ought to make it clear that I have not written this post as a supporter of Mr Findlay’s party, which is Labour. Those who have read earlier posts on the blog know that already, but I don’t think party allegiance counts in this context – adult learning should matter to MSPs from all parties.

A Parliamentary motion supporting adult learning

Most people who come across this blog will already know that adult learning is in crisis across Britain. Politically, we have not yet managed to win the kind of consensus in support of adult learners that has seen off previous attempts to slice the adult learning budget.
New Picture
It was good to see this motion in support of adult learning in the Scottish Parliament. Although supported mainly by Labour MSPs, it is also signed by Jean Urquhart, the independent Member for the Highlands and Islands who convenes the Cross-Parliamentary Group on Adult Learning, and Liam MacArthur of the Liberal Democrats.

So some policy makers see the value of a second educational chance. Perhaps the tide is now turning?