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Shas Sheehan suggests a Task Force to look at adult education services in Merton

March 6, 2015 6:59 AM

An alternative vision

MAE - handing in petition

Thousands of residents have signed petition to save the Whatley Avenue Centre for adult education

Shas Sheehan has written to Cllr Alambritis, the Labour leader of Merton council, to suggest an alternative to axing Merton Adult Education services at Whatley Avenue Centre and other centres around Merton including Wimbledon library and Vestry Hall.

Shas suggests that a more innovative and progressive approach would be to explore other ways of providing MAE services. A task force should be set up to undertake this work - made up of staff, students, Merton council and other community leaders, to look at the feasibility of an adult education service tailored to local needs.

On Merton's border we have the example of SCOLA, Sutton College of Learning for Adults. This forty year old student and staff led institution has an excellent reputation, with upwards of 13,000 enrolments (50% of which are new each year). It enjoys a phenomenal 98% satisfaction rates in student surveys and employs 320 staff.

The college is rooted in the borough and sees its mission as serving all communities, providing opportunities for residents ranging from apprenticeship to arts and crafts.

Thousands of people have signed a petition against the closure of Merton Adult Education services. They know that Merton council's plan to commission services from other providers will leave adult education as an afterthought and provide classes that do not meet the needs of returning learners or people with disabilities.

Closure of the Whatley Avenue Centre is short-sighted and will ultimately lead to more elderly and disabled people being left alone and isolated in their homes. With a little imagination and determination in Merton we could instead have an innovative and progressive programme to rival that of Sutton.