Section 86: Learning aims for persons aged 19 and over
95.Section 86 inserts three new sections and a new Schedule 1A into the 2000 Act. New section 4A places a new duty on the LSC to secure the provision of proper (rather than reasonable) facilities for education and training to enable adults who lack particular skills to obtain relevant qualifications. The qualifications will typically be those at relatively low levels of learning, which are designed to equip people with basic and intermediate skills for work and everyday living.
96.The broad standards of achievement (or “learning aims”) for this purpose are set out in Schedule 1A. They are level 1 literacy, entry level 3 numeracy and level 2. The Secretary of State may specify in regulations the qualifications to which the duty applies.
97.The duty will apply only to a learner’s first qualification at the specified level. For example, the LSC will not be under a duty to secure the provision of proper facilities for a learner with a level 2 National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Beauty Therapy who then applies for a level 2 course in Hairdressing. However, the Secretary of State may by regulations (under section 4C(1)) provide that, despite having a specified qualification, a person is to be treated as not having that qualification. This could apply, for example, where an individual had achieved a school leaving qualification in English or maths but was later identified, as a result of diagnostic assessment, as having skills below the basic levels of literacy or numeracy.
98.Facilities are proper if they are of a sufficient quantity and adequate quality to meet the reasonable needs of individuals. In performing its duty, the LSC must take account of a number of factors, such as the education and training needs in different sectors of employment, and of any guidance issued by the Secretary of State. The LSC must also act with a view to encouraging diversity in education and training and to increasing opportunities for individuals to exercise choice.
99.For example, in respect of courses for which there are high levels of demand fairly consistently across the country – such as NVQ level 2 in Health and Social Care – the duty would be satisfied if provision for learners were accessible widely across many institutions and with a good regional distribution. This position would differ where demand both for courses and for skills is more limited. For aerospace courses, for example, the LSC must have regard to proportionate expenditure; the duty may require a more limited offer of places concentrated in geographical areas with links to the industry. Learners seeking to access these more unusual courses may need to travel to take up courses or the offer of a course which is analogous to the aerospace qualification, for example, engineering.