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					                      Paper 3 – Adult Access to Technology for Learning Proposal
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Paper 3 – Adult Access to Technology for Learning
1.       This paper is to engage the Board in a ministerial commission for a programme to give
         adults technology for learning. This is in effect a version of Home Access for the
         further education (FE) system . It reflects a growing interest in technology for learning
         in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).
2.       The paper describes the broad aims and operation of an „adult access‟ programme
         (paras 6-12); looks at funding and learner numbers (para 15/Annex C); sets out next
         steps (paras 13-14); and raises some key issues (para 16).

3.       Adult Access would help adults (particularly the disadvantaged) to access the
         technology which research shows would support their learning. Becta has been asked
         to develop it by Bill Rammell, Minister for Lifelong Learning, FE and HE. Our initial
         proposal which is still at an early stage, is based on Home Access. In discussion the
         Minister has expressed real interest in the work to date. He has formally invited Becta
         to run a trial and to work with DIUS on a bid for a national programme, like Home
         Access, in the next Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) (his commission is at
         Annex A).
4.       It is important to note that, while it is very encouraging, the Minister‟s support does not
         mean that Adult Access will in the end go ahead. DIUS cannot make a commitment at
         this stage, particularly when public finances are getting tighter. The Board should
         therefore treat the contents of this paper with discretion.
         The Board is asked to note this commission and to comment on the developing
         proposal and the issues raised.

How did the Adult Access proposal come about?
5.       Mr Rammell invited Becta at a recent meeting to consider how to help adults –
         particularly those at a disadvantage - access technology to support their learning and
         thus to benefit from the increased motivation, achievement and progression which we
         know follow. This is partly because of the Minister‟s awareness of Home Access and
         partly because of his increasing familiarity with the “technology premium” now that
         Becta has regular meetings with him.
6.       In response, Becta has developed a proposal which draws on the Home Access model
         but which will also be appropriate to the needs of adults and the FE environment. The

    Access to technology in HE is felt generally to be less of an issue than in FE.

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        Minister‟s interest does not mean that Adult Access will necessarily go forward. There
        is for one thing a great deal of work to do to develop, test and refine the proposal; for
        another the Government investment required would be considerable in a time of
        straitened public finances. However, it is good news that, following discussion, the
        Minister has invited Becta to run a small-scale trial this year and to work with officials
        to develop a bid for the next CSR. It is also worth noting that Jim Knight has expressed
        support for Adult Access and that the proposal supports current cross-Government
        work on „digital equality‟ (ie, bridging the digital divide).

What do we want to achieve?
7.      We want to help adult learners to learn where, when and how they choose with the aid
        of effective and secure technology. We have an opportunity similar to that afforded by
        Home Access to make a real difference to those who have not yet been able to benefit
        from the online delivery of public services. The Adult Access proposal is innovative in
        that, while there is an element of traditional public sector intervention, it is (like Home
        Access) grounded in the telecommunications market.
8.      We would aim to prioritise financial help and support to those most excluded from the
        labour market so that they have a clear route from below Level 2 to full Level 2 and on
        to higher level skills. We recognise that while in an ideal world all adult learners might
        benefit, we might have to target particular groups. However, tackling such priority
        groups will benefit the whole system. This intervention is about changing behaviours;
        for learners to take up the technology offer to benefit from the „technology premium‟,
        for providers to respond to the opportunities presented by universal connectivity for
        learners and for industry to respond - as they have for Home Access.

What would Adult Access mean?
9.      Depending upon personal circumstances, adult learners would be eligible for a
        technology package including a laptop (or similar), a year‟s connectivity2, access to
        their provider‟s IT systems and ongoing support or training. Disadvantaged learners
        would receive a (capital) subsidy. We would build on and share systems, where
        appropriate, with Home Access (we are already flexing the arrangements for Home
        Access to allow for this) and seek links with Skills Accounts, fee remission and learner
        income levels. Annex B offers a more detailed description.
10.     We hope that FE providers would support and promote Adult Access, assess the
        technology needs of learners at induction and allow remote access to learning
        platforms etc. We hope too that employers would take (some) financial responsibility
        for the technology used by Train to Gain learners and apprentices.

    We have alerted telecoms companies to the Adult Access proposal and had no negative feedback.

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Why should Adult Access go ahead3?
11.   We note that evidence from Home Access suggests that an adult version would
      support economic and social PSA targets. In Home Access the total financial costs to
      government, industry and parents would be between £0.5bn and £1.4bn; benefits
      could be around £1bn to £2.5bn and include educational benefits for pupils, work
      benefits for parents and wider benefits for society. We note too, in a different context,
      that rather than being a simple extension Adult Access would complement Home
      Access in reducing social and digital exclusion by giving relatives other than parents
      (and carers) the opportunity to upskill and thus support learning across the family.
      Adult Access would also support DIUS and DCSF policies generally (Skills Accounts,
      14-19, Every Child Matters).

What next?
12.   We are planning a small trial in 2008-09 funded by Becta (approx £360K)4 from its own
      resources. This will help define targets, assist in programme design, probe potential
      risks, refine costs and undertake an impact and economic benefit assessment. At this
      stage we propose that the trial will support 250 learners (125 apprentices and 125 from
      Foundation Learning Tier provision5). The trial will give us and DIUS the chance to
      prove the concept without making any longer term commitment. To support the trial,
      we will commission detailed impact and benefits analysis and set up a stakeholder
      group. We will also discuss with DIUS the possibility of a ministerial announcement at
      some point. If all went well we would hope to roll out the programme at a national scale
      perhaps a couple of years into the next CSR period. Depending upon funding, the
      larger-scale pilot we hoped DIUS might fund may still be a possibility before then.

13.   We have had an initial discussion with DIUS officials about the CSR bid but cannot do
      much more until a spending round is announced by HM Treasury.

How much would Adult Access cost?
14.   We estimate that the trial will cost £362K for 250 learners and have identified the funds
      for this from within existing resources without impacting in a major way on plans or
      targets. We plan to refine our initial estimates but consider that a pilot might cost
      around £14m or a full year £96m for, say, 200,000 learners. The majority of funding is
      capital. We would expect costs to reduce as we refine numbers etc (eg, by removing
      all learners whose children benefit through Home Access). We could also look to

  We plan a full impact assessment.
  Costs are discussed in para 15 and Annex C. In discussions with DIUS, we sought funds (approx
£14m) for a larger pilot in 2009-10 but DIUS budgets are already too heavily committed.
  We have chosen Apprentices and FLT learners to give us variety in types of provision/provider and
in the circumstances of learners. We intend that a national Adult Access programme would be open to
a much wider range of learners.

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      reduce costs by targeting the programme at particular groups only. More detail is given
      in Annex C.

What are the issues?
15.   There are clearly many issues, very different in nature. They include:
           Refining funding and learner numbers, to include deadweight and net present
            value calculations. We need to develop modelling to fully understand the financial
            aspects including:
               learner numbers linked to poverty and fee remission for LSC funded training
               data analysis (learner, Skills Account number, household, training provider,
                LA, region, England)
               targeted groups (Foundation Learning Tier, apprentices as priority and for the
                proof of concept with modelling also for additional learner groups)
               learner numbers in need of assistive technology and additional support
               other indices such as gender, ethnicity, age, full-time, part-time, eligibility for
                fee remission, % level drop-outs, digital inclusion with data as available from
                LSC data fields
               allowing for UHA learners to be identified and excluded from AATL
           Security, safeguarding, incidences of fraud
           Understanding existing patterns of learner drop-out and determine consequences
           Sustainability of the intervention, measuring changes in behaviour of learners,
            providers and industry during the intervention and when the connectivity subsidy
            ends after one year
           Engaging (in different ways) the technology industry, FE providers and
            participants‟ employers
           The governance structure. We are planning to establish an advisory group with
            key stakeholders including DIUS, LSC (National Apprenticeship Service and
            Foundation Learning tier), Niace, UK Online Centres, DWP, National Learner
            Panel, ALP and AoC
           The operational arrangements including how to keep a close alignment to Home
            Access and FE business systems (Skills Accounts, learner information and data
           Measuring and demonstrating impact on departmental PSA targets and emerging
            digital inclusion priority areas.

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Annex A: Text of invitation letter from Bill Rammell

Jane Williams
Executive Director for FE, Regeneration & Delivery
Millburn Hill Road
Science Park

                                                                            19 August 2008

Dear Jane

I promised that I would come back quickly about the possibility of DIUS funding for a
pilot of the Adult Access to Technology for Learning proposal which Becta developed at
my invitation.

I am sorry to say that we have not been able to identify funds for a pilot for next year.
This is, as I know you appreciate all too well, a time of particular financial pressures,
and the budgets which would have been appropriate for this purpose are already fully

I realise that this is not the news you hoped for. As you are aware, I found a lot to
commend in the proposal and so share the disappointment I am sure you feel. I would,
however, very much like Becta to continue with the proposed trial (funded from your
budgets), and I have asked my officials to develop the proposal, with your help, as a bid
for the next CSR. I can make no commitment, of course, but I think that an Adult
Access programme would make a good fit with our work around the developing
demand-led environment and make a contribution to the achievement of our PSAs.

Please let me know, via John Landeryou (whom I know you are to see soon), if Becta is
willing to go forward on these terms. I would also be grateful if you would pass on my
thanks to Stephen Crowne, Tony Richardson and other Becta colleagues who have
contributed to the development of the proposal, which I think is an impressive piece of

I hope you enjoy the rest of the summer and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Yours sincerely


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Annex B: Description of Adult Access

    Adult Access would enable adult learners to: (i) get vocational information,
     advice and guidance; (ii) research and study; (iii) use a wide range of online
     learning resources and/or tools; (iv) collaborate and share work with others; (v)
     capture progress and achievement, including digital assets for assessment; (vi)
     communicate with other learners, teachers etc; (vii) get feedback on their
     progress; (viii) access online public and private services and communications.

    In and out of scope: We would rule out of scope those who would benefit from
     Home Access, including: (i) all learners in state-maintained education aged 5 to
     19, including full-time 16-19 year-olds in colleges6; and the adults in the
     immediate families of the learners benefiting from Home Access. Adult learners
     whom we propose at this stage should be in scope are set out in Annex C.

    How Adult Access would work: Learners would, as part of their induction, receive
     information about Adult Access and have their needs assessed and agreed.
     What a learner got (including the level of subsidy) would depend upon their
     personal circumstances. We do not propose to describe the many permutations
     in detail here. But by way of illustration, there would be some who already have
     their own computer and broadband and so would need only access to their
     provider‟s systems; others would lack skills, equipment and finance and so
     would need financial support to buy equipment and connectivity and also need
     ongoing support and initial training.

    Those who were disadvantaged and therefore entitled to a degree of subsidy
     could be identified through means of the fee remission data field of the individual
     learner record (ILR). Learners entitled to full fee-remission would be eligible to
     100 per cent subsidy but would need to pay for connectivity after the first year.
     Subsidy levels would follow those being considered by Home Access:

       a learner earning less than £10K per year and/or eligible for full fee remission
        would attract a 100 per cent subsidy on capital
       a learner earning between £10K and £15K per year and/or eligible for full fee
        remission would attract a 75 per cent subsidy on capital
       a learner earning over £15K per year or ineligible for fee remission would
        have no subsidy but would still benefit from access to an advantageous deal
        in the market
       all learners would benefit from support systems.

 We are discussing with DIUS and DCSF whether part-time 16-19 year-old learners in the FE system
will be covered by Home Access.

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        Annex C: Estimated learner numbers and costs
* The pilot year will built into the next CSR period.

 Learners targeted for subsidy:
                                                     Trial                 Pilot*        Full year
 Capital Costs
 Average funding to learner - capital incl.
 one year bundle of connectivity where
 appropriate                                         £450                  £375          £350
 Group 1: Engaging new learners
 Foundation learning tier                            125                   12,500        100,000
 Skills for Life                                     0                     1,000         10,000
 ESOL                                                0                     0             0
 Adult Safeguarded Learning                          0                     500           10,000
 Developmental Learning                              0                     0             0
 Group 2: Level 2 and above (not employer
 Full Level 2                                        0                     500           10,000
 Full Level 3                                        0                     500           10,000
 Group 3: Level 2 and above employer
 Apprenticeships                                     125                   12,500        60,000
 total number of learners                            250                   27,500        200,000
 Adjustment at 20% of learners for assistive
 technology - additional £500                        £25,000               £2,750,000    £20,000,000
 Total cost capital and connectivity =
                                                     £137,500              £13,062,500   £90,000,000
 Revenue costs
 Procurement                                         £150,000              £250,000      £750,000
 Next Generation Learning Campaign                   £0                    £50,000       £500,000
 Programme management                                £50,000               £150,000      £1,200,000
 Evaluation                                          £25,000               £100,000      £550,000
 Learner support                                     £0                    £500,000      £3,000,000
 Total revenue =
                                                     £225,000              £1,050,000    £6,000,000

 Grand total =                                       £362,500              £14,112,500   £96,000,000

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