Policies - Buckinghamshire Adult Learning

Policies

Policies

Below are our main policies, please read them carefully before enrolling onto an Adult Learning course. Please contact us on 01296 382403 if you wish to find out about our other policies and procedures.

Terms & Conditions

  1. By enrolling on a course, you are agreeing to pay the total price for the whole course and annual registration fee, including all outstanding balances, should you withdraw. This applies to all courses, including those funded by a Learning Loan
  2. To secure your place, either full payment must be made at enrolment or the required deposit received and the completed direct debit paperwork returned within ten working days (see paragraph 4 below).

Cheques should be made payable to “Buckinghamshire Council”.

A fee of £30 will be charged for dishonoured cheques.

  1. Any additional costs for exam fees will be shown on the course information sheet. Certificates in relation to any exams passed will only be provided once the full tuition and exam fees have been paid. We may not allow you to sit an exam where fees are outstanding.
  2. To help you spread the cost of your learning, direct debit is available for course fees over £150. Where the course is more than 25 weeks, a 34% deposit is due, followed by two equal direct payments due on 15 November and 15 February. In all other cases, a 25% deposit is payable followed by three consecutive monthly direct debit payments.

If the mandate is not returned within ten working days, the full fees become immediately payable. We will telephone you to obtain a debit or credit card payment. If you have failed to adhere to these terms and conditions in the past we reserve the right to refuse the option of paying by direct debit in the future. If you would like to discuss direct debits in more detail, please call 01296 382403.

  1. Where fee concessions are claimed, you will need to provide the necessary documentary evidence to demonstrate eligibility for this fee reduction. Should this not be received within two weeks of the enrolment date, the full fees become payable. We will contact you in order to obtain payment via debit or credit card.
  2. Where there are outstanding fees, other than agreed future direct debit instalments, we may refuse entry to the class until such fees have been paid.
  3. Overseas learners – please note that learners who have not been living in the UK or EU residents who have not been living in the EEA for at least three years, will need to pay the overseas student rate for any course which is £11.50 per hour.

Refunds/Transfers

  1. If you change your mind and wish to withdraw from a course before it begins, we will process your request as follows:
  • If the request is made within five working days of enrolling, and before attending a session, a full refund will be given
  • If the request is made at least 15 days before the course begins, a full refund less £35 to cover administration will be returned to you
  1. For a language course, if you decide by the end of the third session that the level is not appropriate and you notify us of this within two working days we will transfer you to another language course of your choice. For all other courses, if after one session you decide that the course is unsuitable and you notify us of this within two working days, we will transfer you to another course of your choice. If you request a transfer to a different course in any other circumstances, an administration fee of £25 will be charged. In both cases, further costs may apply if transferring to a course of a higher fee.
  2. If you withdraw from a course, you will not be eligible for a refund. However, in exceptional circumstances and at our discretion, we may be able to offer some credit against a future course. In this case an administration fee of £25 will be charged. All requests for a credit should be made within two weeks of your last attendance.
  3. If it becomes necessary to either cancel or close your course within the first three weeks, for example due to low numbers, we will refund your fees in full. Where courses are closed after the first three weeks, a pro-rata refund will be made to any student attending at that time who has attended at least 80% of their sessions. We will endeavour to let you know as soon as possible.

All cancellations will be confirmed to you in writing or by email.

  1. It may occasionally be necessary, for reasons beyond the control of Buckinghamshire Adult Learning, to change the course tutor, make slight changes to the timing or content of the programme, or move the course to an alternative venue within a reasonable distance of the advertised venue. Refunds will only be given in exceptional circumstances. Please be aware we are unable to confirm tutor details.
  2. Where a session is cancelled, for reasons beyond the control of Buckinghamshire Adult Learning, for example, if a staff member is unwell or extreme weather conditions, we will try to offer an additional class at another time. We will promptly contact you if this happens. If the majority of the students are able to attend the alternative session then no refund will be given for the missed session.
  3. The minimum number of students for most of our courses is nine. If a class does not reach its minimum number, we may close the course or offer you the opportunity to reduce the number of weeks with no corresponding reduction in fee, or we may increase the fee to the small group rate of £9.10 per hour as an alternative to closing the class.

Course Fees

  1. Some courses may involve additional costs for materials. These will be outlined on the course information sheet you receive on enrolment. Unless specifically stated, you are advised not to buy equipment, materials or books prior to the first session. We will not refund you for any equipment, materials or books bought in advance.
  2. Please note, an annual £10 registration fee applies upon enrolment for all courses that are longer than six hours in length.

Data

  1. The personal information you provide is passed to the Chief Executive of Education and Skills Funding Agency (“the Agency”) and, when needed, the Department for Education, including the Education Funding Agency and the European Social Fund (ESF) to meet legal responsibilities under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, and for the Agency’s Learning Records Service (LRS) to create and maintain a unique learner number (ULN). The information you provide may be shared with other partner organisations for education, training and employment-related purposes, including for research. Further information about use of and access to your personal data, and details of partner organisations are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/education-and-skills-funding-agency

The Education and Skills Funding Agency and OFSTED both run learner surveys and we are required to invite you to take part in these. In addition, we are expected to provide details about the effectiveness of the training we provide, which may require us to contact you after your course has finished to find out how your course has helped you. These surveys and follow-up enquiries may be carried out by a third party.

  1. All new learners will be allocated a Unique Learner Number (ULN). This ULN is the education equivalent of a National Insurance Number and is used for life. ULNs are issued to most learners from age 14 and they are used in schools, further and higher education, and particularly when entering exams or accessing the National Careers Service.

Attendance

  1. If you do not hear from us to the contrary, please assume that your course will be running.
  2. Under the terms of our student charter, all learners are required to be punctual for their class and to attend regularly. If you are unable to attend a session, please let us know.

General

  1. All learners are required to sign a learning agreement at the beginning of their course and complete an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) for each course as a record of their learning and progress.
  2. All learners are required to show respect for staff and other learners and to behave responsibly and safely at all times.
  3. We are unable to accept responsibility for any damage to or loss of student property (including motor vehicles) or work.
  4. Learners must be aged 19 or over on 31 August 2020, at the start of their learning for all non-accredited courses.

All information correct as at June 2020

General Student Information

Students' Charter

For information on what you can expect from us and what we ask of you, view our Students’ Charter.

Learner Support

Buckinghamshire Adult Learning works with a variety of partners to provide a flexible and co-ordinated range of local, part-time learning opportunities. The aim is to help all people who live and work in Buckinghamshire to develop the habit of learning throughout their lives. To achieve this we ensure that the particular needs and interests of individuals within all sectors of the community are considered when planning and delivering the curriculum. Provision is offered across a wide range of Local Education Authority owned and community based sites. Systems are in place to provide, wherever practicable, equality of opportunity for all adults, regardless of age, race, gender, disability or any other special factor.

Buckinghamshire Adult Learning is committed to identifying and removing barriers to access. We aim to improve our opportunities and encourage wider participation by adults with a disability.

We aim to give you the support you need to learn with us. If you have a disability or learning difficulty and may need extra support, please let us know by ticking the relevant box on the enrolment form. If you would like further information, please email our learning support team in confidence: aldisability@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

Your Rights and Responsibilities

We expect all our learners to accept and abide by the requirements of the Students’ Charter. Failure to fulfil these conditions may result in action being taken and/or student disciplinary procedures being applied where appropriate. The following are examples of behaviour which are considered as misconduct and may result in exclusion from an Adult Learning course:

  • Behaviour or language which is racially or sexually offensive or which is offensive to those with disabilities
  • Consistently poor attendance
  • Drunkenness or the illegal use of drugs
  • Failure to follow the reasonable instructions of a member of staff
  • Interference with software belonging to or used by the Service, or misuse of computer facilities
  • Plagiarism

For more information please download our Learner Code of Conduct and Equality Opportunities policy.

Site accessibility

Many of the buildings we use have good access, and some have lifts, special parking and toilets for people with disabilities.

For more information please download our Access to buildings document.

We may be able to help you with:

  • A helper to support you in class
  • Learning materials that suit your needs – for example large print
  • Someone to interpret, read or sign for you
  • Support equipment, for example, a hearing loop, surround sound, special computer equipment or software
  • Support for dyslexia
  • Extra time for exams
  • Changing the room to give you better access

Equality opportunities

Respect, Safety and Learning for All

We treat everyone with respect. We promote and provide equal opportunity to learners and staff in a safe, supportive and welcoming environment.

We believe that all have a right to equality of opportunity, whatever a person’s age, gender, race, disability, colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or belief, gender identity, marital status, background or personal circumstance.

We expect all staff and learners to play an active part in promoting respect and challenging any form of discrimination or abuse.

For more information please see our Equality opportunities policy.

Disclaimer

While every effort has been made to ensure that the information on this website and our brochure is correct, Buckinghamshire Adult Learning cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. We reserve the right to make changes to the courses, services and locations we offer without prior notice.

Concession Policy

Other Policies

Plagiarism

Buckinghamshire Adult Learning follows strict accreditation guidelines on plagiarism. If you are required to submit coursework for assessment, you must be aware that you should not copy anything word-for-word from another source, or try to pass off another writer’s opinions as your own, without acknowledging the source. Action will be taken if plagiarism is suspected.

For more information please download our Plagiarism Guidelines.

Buckinghamshire Adult Learning also aims to ensure that all assessment decisions are valid, fair and consistent. However there may be occasions when a learner wishes to appeal against a decision that has been made. You may only appeal against assessment decisions or against conditions imposed by the Course team as laid down in the Appeals Procedure.

For more information please download our Appeals Procedure.

Computer Use and Internet policy

When using our computers you need to observe the following conditions:

  • You must not access material which is obscene or violent or which may be offensive to other users
  • Use of Chat Rooms is not permitted
  • Anyone found abusing the system or behaving in a manner likely to offend other customers or staff will be asked to leave
  • In using the service you are responsible for complying with the law. In particular the law relating to Copyright which means you cannot copy any material (this includes music, lyrics, photographs, film clips and drawings) without the necessary permission
  • Public computers are set up for general use and you must not tamper with settings or alter the configuration
  • We use software to monitor and filter all use of the internet on public computers. Failure to comply with this policy will result in access to the facilities being withdrawn

You must agree to these terms to use our facilities.

Translation and alternative formats

Buckinghamshire Adult Learning will consider all reasonable requests to translate documents into alternative formats including: Braille, Large font and Languages other than English.

Guidance on producing accessible information

Pound Plus Policy

The Education and Skills Funding Agency require, as part of their funding rules, Adult Community Learning providers to have in place a Pound Plus strategy.  Within Pound Plus – the ‘Pound’ represents the public pound, the ‘Plus’ is everything else that providers can generate in addition to the non-formula community learning funding allocation – this may be in the form of either income or savings.  The process of Pound Plus has been in place since the Skills Funding Agency’s publication of New Challenges, New Chances in 2011, and it ensures that the community learning grant is seen as a contribution to the overall funds necessary to sustain community learning. Providers must have in place a ‘Pound Plus’ policy, which is available on their website or at their site, and must invest Pound Plus fee income or savings for the people who most need, and can least afford, community learning provision.

You can download the full Pound Plus Policy here

How We Use Your Personal Information

This privacy notice is issued by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Department of Education (DfE). It is to inform learners how their personal information will be used by the DfE, the ESFA (an executive agency of the DfE) and any successor bodies to these organisations.

For the purposes of relevant data protection legislation, the DfE is the data controller for personal data processed by the ESFA. Your personal information is used by the DfE to exercise its functions and to meet its statutory responsibilities, including under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 and to create and maintain a unique learner number (ULN) and a personal learning record (PLR). Your information will be securely destroyed after it is no longer required for these purposes.

Your information may be used for education, training, employment and well-being related purposes, including for research. The DfE and the English European Social Fund (ESF) Managing Authority (or agents acting on their behalf) may contact you in order for them to carry out research and evaluation to inform the effectiveness of training.

Your information may also be shared with other third parties for the above purposes, but only where the law allows it and the sharing is in compliance with data protection legislation.

Further information about use of and access to your personal data, details of organisations with whom we regularly share data, information about how long we retain your data, and how to change your consent to being contacted, please visit: ESFA Privacy Notice

At no time will your personal information be passed to other organisations for marketing or sales purposes.

Web Accessibility

Access for all

We aim to make our website accessible to as many people as possible.

As part of Level 1 accessibility as set out by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) the following rules apply:

  • Alternative text versions of all graphics are provided to describe the image.
  • If tables or bar-charts, pie-charts etc. are presented as graphics a text alternative is provided.
  • On each page where Adobe PDF files are used users are referred to full details on accessing these files.
  • Background colours and text colours provide the maximum contrast.
  • Information is not provided in a way that makes colour vision or a colour monitor essential.
  • Online forms and image maps can be navigated in a logical order using the Tab button on your keyboard.
  • A set of access keys have been developed for the use of people who do not wish to, or cannot, use a mouse.

Changing font size

Please go to the right hand side of the home page and click on the + or – icon to increase or decrease the size of the font. This will change the size of the font for all pages during your visit to our website.

Safeguarding

We provide a safe and secure environment with all safeguarding issues dealt with in confidence by our Safeguarding Officer. If you are aware of, or suffer from, any form of abuse such as emotional, physical, financial or sexual abuse; domestic violence, discrimination or neglect, please contact Teresa Meredith, our Safeguarding Officer on 01296 383470 quoting ‘safeguarding’ and Teresa will call you back or email adultlearningsafe@buckinghamshire.gov.uk.

Extremists divide friends, family and communities. If you are worried about something, please speak to our Safeguarding Officer Teresa Meredith.

Whistleblowing Policy

WHISTLEBLOWING POLICY AND PROCEDURE

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 What is the policy about

Employees can sometimes be the first to realise that there may be something wrong with procedures/processes, or the conduct of others. However, they may not always express their concerns because they feel that speaking up would be disloyal to their colleagues or the council. They may also fear the threat of harassment or victimisation and in these circumstances they may feel it easier to just ignore their concern rather than report.

“Whistleblowing” is the term used when an employee passes on information concerning wrongdoing. This is generally referred to as making “making a disclosure” or “blowing the whistle”.

Whistleblowing law is located in the Employment Rights Act 1996 (as amended by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998).

The council is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, honesty, integrity and accountability. In line with that commitment we expect employees, and others we deal with, who have any serious concerns about any aspect of the council’s work to come forward and voice those concerns. Wherever possible, employees are encouraged to use relevant council procedures to report issues in an open and transparent way. However, it is recognised that some cases will have to proceed on a confidential basis.

This policy makes it clear that you can report concerns without fear of victimisation, subsequent discrimination or disadvantage. The Whistleblowing Policy is intended to encourage and enable employees to raise serious concerns within the council rather than overlooking a problem of “blowing the whistle” outside.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 protects employees/workers from reprisal, victimisation or harassment at work if they raise a concern that they reasonably believe is in the public interest.

1.2 Who does the policy apply to?

This policy applies to all Buckinghamshire Council employees, and all workers including agency staff, consultants, self-employed staff, apprentices, trainees, contractors and volunteers.  It also applies to organisations working in partnership with the Council.

These procedures are in addition to the council’s complaints procedures and other statutory reporting procedures applying to some services.

1.3 Aim of the policy.

This policy aims to:

  • Encourage you to feel confident in raising serious concerns and to question and act upon concerns about practice;
  • Provide avenues for you to raise those concerns and receive feedback (where appropriate) on any action taken;
  • Ensure that you receive a response to your concerns and that you are aware of how to pursue them is you are not satisfied; and
  • Reassure you that you will be protected from possible reprisals or victimisation if you have reasonable belief that you have made any disclosure in the public interest.
1.4 Scope of the policy

An employee who makes a disclosure under this policy must reasonably believe:

i That they are acting in the public interest;

ii That the disclosure tends to show past, present or likely future wrongdoing falling into one or more of the following categories:

  • Conduct which is an offence or breach of the law;
  • Health and safety risks, including risks to the public as well as employees/workers;
  • Damage to the environment;
  • Abuse of clients;
  • Safeguarding concerns relating to children, young people or adults with care and support needs;
  • Practice which falls below established standards of practice;
  • Unauthorised use of public funds;
  • Possible fraud, corruption or financial irregularity including unauthorised use of Council funds (please see the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy);
  • Unauthorised disclosure of confidential information;
  • Unreasonable conduct resulting in unfair pressures on staff;
  • Any other unethical conduct; and
  • Covering up information about anything listed above.

The above list is neither exclusive nor exhaustive.

Thus, any serious concerns that you have, which are in the public interest, about any aspects of service provision or the conduct of officers or members of the council or others acting on behalf of the council can be reported under the Whistleblowing Policy.

2.      PRINCIPLES

2.1      This policy and procedure is founded on the following principles:

a. Employees/workers have a legal right to report their concerns if they have a reasonable belief that wrongdoing may be occurring, or may have occurred, within the Council.

b. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 protects employees/workers from reprisal, victimisation or harassment at work if they raise a concern that they reasonably believe is in the public interest.

c. Any matter raised under this procedure will be investigated thoroughly, promptly and confidentially, and the outcome of the investigation reported back to the worker who raised the issue.

d. If a concern is raised in confidence, the employee’s or worker’s identity will not be disclosed without their consent, unless required by law.

e. All parties involved in the whistleblowing process will maintain strict confidentiality throughout by ensuring that only the people who need to know have access to details of the case (with the exception of any legal obligations requiring action from the Council, e.g. in health and safety matters).

f. The employee/worker has a right to be accompanied by an accredited trade union representative or work colleague at any meeting during the Whistleblowing process.

g. If you have any misgivings about either the process or the managers leading it, you should tell us openly so that we can address your concerns. Any meeting recorded without the consent of all those present (covert recordings) will be treated as a conduct matter.

h. Maliciously making a false allegation is a disciplinary offence, which may be dealt with under the Disciplinary Policy and Procedure.

i. Trying to identify, harassment or victimisation of a whistleblower (including informal pressures) will be treated as a disciplinary offence, which will be dealt with under the Disciplinary Policy and Procedure.

j. Any person who deters or attempts to deter any individual from genuinely raising concerns under this policy may also be subject to the Council’s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure.

k. Issues raised by an employee about their own employment should be dealt with through the Grievance Policy and Procedure.

l. The Role of the Council’s Monitoring Officer (Deputy Chief Executive) is to promote and maintain high standards of conduct across the Council and to ensure lawfulness and fairness of decision making.

m. All concerns raised relating to Buckinghamshire Council and Schools will be recorded on a central register, held by the Business Assurance function on behalf of the Council’s Monitoring Officer.

n. As part of the ongoing review of the effectiveness of this policy, an annual report will be issued to the Buckinghamshire Council’s Audit and Governance Committee of all concerns raised under the Whistleblowing policy.

o. There will be no unlawful discrimination against any individual in the application of this policy on the basis of the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, maternity and pregnancy, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, or other grounds protected in law.

3.      SAFEGUARDING

3.1      If an employee/worker has a concern that any person who works with children, young people or adults with care and support needs, in connection with their employment or voluntary activity, has:

a. behaved in a way that has harmed a child, young person or vulnerable adult or may have harmed a child, young person or vulnerable adult; or

b. possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child, young person or vulnerable adult; or

c. behaved towards a child, young person or vulnerable adult in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children, young people or adults with care and support needs;

then the employee/worker should raise the concern via the Whistleblowing Policy as this policy affords the employee/worker protection under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.  It is important that a safeguarding concern is raised as a matter of urgency as the safety of others may be dependent upon the concern being dealt with swiftly.  The concern may then have to be dealt with under the procedures for Managing Concerns or Allegations Against Staff and Volunteers Working with Adults with Care and Support Needs and Managing Allegations against Staff and Volunteers Working with Children.

3.2      An employee/worker may raise their concern regarding a person who works with children, young people or adults with care and support needs with a Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).

4.      RAISING A CONCERN UNDER THE WHISTLEBLOWING POLICY AND PROCEDURE

4.1         How to raise a concern:

a. In the first instance, the employee/worker should raise their concern verbally or in writing with their immediate manager, or, if the concern involves the direct line manager, their superior. Wherever possible concerns should be made in writing direct by the person raising the concerns using the template.

b. The manager will then either continue to deal with the concern or refer it to another appropriate senior manager. Where concerns raised involve Children, Young People or Adults with care and support needs, the appropriate process should be followed.

c. In certain circumstances, you may feel unable, or it may not be appropriate, to raise your concerns with your immediate manager due to the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved and who is suspected of the malpractice. If this is the case, the concern can be reported to one of the following officers using the same template:

  • Head of Service;
  • Service Director:
  • Corporate Director;
  • Director of Finance (S151);
  • Deputy Chief Executive (Monitoring Officer);
  • Chief Executive;
  • Chief Internal Auditor; or
  • You may also use the Council’s Whistleblowing Hotline on 01296 382237 (accessible 24 hours a day) or email audit@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

5.      HOW THE COUNCIL WILL RESPOND

5.1      The council will respond to your concerns. Following the recording of the concern, either directly by the whistleblower or the manager to whom it was reported, the completed form should then be immediately forwarded to the Chief Internal Auditor and Corporate Fraud Manager for logging and monitoring purposes.

5.2      The Chief Internal Auditor and Corporate Fraud Manager is independent and has unlimited access to any officer, member or information within the council and, in consultation with the appropriate officer, can agree the most appropriate way of investigating the concern.

5.3      Where appropriate, the matters raised may:

  • be investigated by management, internal audit and corporate fraud;
  • through the disciplinary process;
  • be referred to the police;
  • be referred to the external auditor; or
  • form the subject of an independent inquiry.

5.4      In order to protect individuals and those accused of misdeeds or possible malpractice, initial enquiries will be made to decide whether an investigation is appropriate and, if so, what form it should take. The overriding principles, which the council will have in mind, are your well-being and the public interest. Concerns or allegations that fall within the scope of specific procedures [for example, safeguarding or discrimination issues] will normally be referred for consideration under those procedures.

5.5  Some concerns may be resolved by agreed action without the need for investigation. If urgent action is required this will be taken before any investigation is conducted.

5.6      Within ten working days of a concern being raised, the person with whom you have raised your concerns will respond to you in writing:

  • acknowledging that the concern has been received;
  • indicating how we propose to deal with the matter;
  • giving an estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response;
  • telling you whether any initial enquiries have been made;
  • supplying you with information on employee support mechanisms; and
  • telling you whether further investigations will take place and if not, why not.

5.7      A copy of the response will be forwarded to the Chief Internal Auditor and Corporate Fraud Manager for monitoring purposes.

5.8      The amount of contact between the officers considering the issues and you will depend on the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of the information provided. If necessary, the council will seek further information from you. However, should this further information need to be gleaned by you, from another person, without them being made aware of your involvement in the Whistleblowing process, specific procedures will need to be applied.

5.9      Should a manager believe that this additional information may assist the enquiry, and that the information can only be obtained by you, no action will be taken until the matter has been referred to the relevant person(s) for a decision to be made as to whether such a course of action is both necessary and proportionate.

5.10    Important:

a. All employees must not, under any circumstances attempt to obtain any further information covertly either directly or indirectly without first having complied with the Council’s procedures in relation to staff surveillance which can be found in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIPA) Policy. Failure to do so may infringe Human Rights and render the Council liable to legal action.

b. Where any meeting is arranged, off-site if you so wish, you can be accompanied by a trade union or professional association representative or a work colleague.

c. The council will take steps to minimise any difficulties which you may experience as a result of raising a concern. For instance, if you are required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings the council will arrange for you to receive advice about the procedure.

d. The council accepts that you need to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. Thus, subject to legal constraints, we will inform you of the outcome of any investigation.

e. This code is intended to provide you with an avenue within the council to raise concerns. The council hopes you will be satisfied with any action taken.

6.      FURTHER REPORTING OPTIONS

6.1         If following the outcome of the internal investigation outlined in section 5 the employee/worker reasonably believes that the appropriate action has not been taken they may opt to raise the concern outside the Council to any of the following:

  • Buckinghamshire Council’s External Auditor;
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General;
  • The Police;
  • Public Concern at Work (pcaw.co.uk, email whistle@pcaw.co.uk or telephone (020 7404 6609);
  • A relevant professional body or inspectorate (e.g. OFSTED OR SSI); or
  • A trade union or professional association.

Subcontractor Policy

Subcontractor Management Fees and Charges Policy for 2020/21

  1. Background

Buckinghamshire Adult Learning (BAL) is a direct delivery service within Buckinghamshire County Council (the Council). It delivers a range of provision funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) designed to meet the Council’s strategic objectives and the ESFA’s priorities. BAL’s mission is to provide inclusive learning opportunities that promote well-being and inspire people living or working in Buckinghamshire to achieve their potential. It works to provide a positive difference to the lives of people living or working in Buckinghamshire and works as part of the Council to:

  • Safeguard the vulnerable
  • Create opportunities and build self-reliance
  • Keep Buckinghamshire thriving

It achieves this on its accredited provision through the delivery of apprenticeships, traineeships, basic skills (including English; Maths; English for Speakers of Other Languages; and provision for Adults with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities) and qualifications for the unemployed.

  1. Sub-contracting rationale

BAL currently works with a large range of partners including the Job Centre, children’s centres, schools, third sector organisations and local community groups to deliver a range of learning opportunities for adults, young people aged 16 and above, families and communities across Buckinghamshire. Some of these arrangements are informal and others are subject to a more formal service level agreement. In line with many other providers, BAL subcontracts some elements of the ESFA funded provision to complement our own delivery and be able to meet our customers’, both local and regional, needs.

Currently only apprenticeship, traineeship and other Adult Education Budget funded provision is subcontracted. Principally this is in order to:

  • Expand our provision with new courses or delivery models where BAL does not currently have the expertise to deliver;
  • To provide immediate provision whilst expanding direct capacity. This might include working with sub-contractors to explore and learn about new frameworks or sectors prior to investment in resources;
  • Diversify our provision in terms of scope or scale including the development of new SSA areas or geographies linked to new or existing business contacts that BAL alone could not sufficiently provide coverage;
  • To provide access to, or engagement with, a new range of customers;
  • Support smaller providers to develop and grow their specialist provision and improve their quality.

These arrangements are through a formal subcontracting agreement with BAL in line with BAL’s own funding agreement with the ESFA. BAL encourages a relationship with its providers that extends beyond the definitions of the contract to one which operates in a spirit of support, guidance, co-working, transparency and challenge, where necessary, in order to drive improvements and to ensure the best possible service delivery to learners as well as providing best value for money.

  1. Subcontractor selection and appointment

Any organisation wishing to become a subcontractor for BAL has to first satisfy the criteria to become an approved supplier for the Council. The opportunity to become an approved supplier for BAL was advertised through the South-East Business Portal in December 2018, following a comprehensive due diligence process, under which financial capability, capacity to deliver and meet local needs and quality measures were evaluated. This process has been reopened annually; all additional approved suppliers have been added to the Council’s approved suppliers’ list. Being accepted as an approved supplier did not guarantee the offer of funding and a contract for 2020/21.

The second part of the process was a mini-competition under which prospective suppliers were invited to tender for funding from £20,000 to £100,000. In total £150,000 of Adult Education Budget, £49,950 for Levy apprenticeships and £50,000 traineeships were available. Information in the tendering document stated that funding was to be prioritised both as regarded geographical location of the delivery and type of delivery. Subject to meeting the quality requirements, funding was allocated in the following priority order:

  • Apprenticeships
  • Traineeships
  • Work with the unemployed
  • English and maths
  • General classroom-based learning
  • Workplace learning

Applications for funding under the Adult Education Budget exceeded that available and BAL was not able to offer any funding for general classroom-based learning and workplace learning. During 2020/21, there should be a further opportunity to become a preferred supplier. Depending on the performance of the existing subcontractors, there may also be an opportunity to vary contracts or tender for funding.

  1. Quality and assurance

BAL is committed to continuously improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment and this applies to both direct delivery and sub-contracted delivery. For sub-contracted delivery, this starts through a robust due diligence process which ensures only good quality sub-contractors are selected, as explained in paragraph 3 above. BAL ensures its subcontractors understand what is required of them and supports and challenges them through the use of a thorough and robust audit programme, which encompasses observation of teaching, learning and assessment, including inductions sessions, moderation, review of IQA and EQA reports, sharing of best practice, regular meetings, training sessions as required, review of timely completion, sub-contractor newsletters and self-assessment. Sub-contractors are also set KPIs around success rates and are expected to investigate and eliminate and achievement gaps.

  1. Fees and charges

In 2020/21, the fee rate charged to manage subcontractors will be 15% + VAT. This will be reviewed during the year to ensure it is sufficient to cover the costs of managing and administering the subcontracting arrangements for each subcontractor. This fee will cover the staffing and other associated costs of supporting and monitoring the subcontracted provision. In return for the charge, subcontractors will receive the following support, guidance and challenge:

Act Activity Fee
Contract Management
  • A named contract manager as first point of contact who will respond promptly to any queries and monitor the contract throughout the year;
  • Responsibility for the external audit on sub-contracted provision
  • Two monitoring meetings per year where provider performance against contract is discussed and action plans for improvement agreed;
  • Monthly contact to provide additional information and support;
  • Paperwork submission quality and accuracy checks;
  • Audit checks of the full delivery information, including, but not exclusive to, learner support, auditable paperwork, learner induction, IAG, ILPs, progress reviews, policies and procedures, employer engagement, learner feedback and complaints, health & safety checks, Internal Quality Assurance, learner progress tracking system and Awarding Body reports.
5%
MIS Support
  • Course code set-ups for all courses to be delivered;
  • Access to funding support;
  • Enrolments once data submissions are fully correct;
  • MIS data monitoring for completeness, accuracy and financial payments;
  • Processing of ILR returns, data validation and reporting;
  • Production of subcontractor finance and performance reports.
4.5%
Finance/

Administration

Support

  • Contract administration
  • Document retention;
  • Reconciliation.
1%
Support for

Quality of

Teaching and

Learning

  • Two monitoring meetings per year where quality of the delivery are observed, discussed and action plans for improvement agreed;
  • Due diligence quality checks;
  • Access to CPD services;
  • Access to support and challenge against SAR and QIP to ensure quality improvements.
4.5%

  1. Additional Charges

Additional charges may apply should extra services be required. These may include:

Service Charge
Exam registration & certification In-line with Awarding Body fees + £10 admin fee per learner
Internal Quality Assurance services £21 per hour

 

Liaison/management of External Verifier visits £70 per visit

 

Purchase of resources In-line with costs of resources purchased
Additional specialist CPD events In-line with costs associated per head

 

Carrying out of observations of teaching, learning & assessment (OTLs) where the subcontractor doesn’t have capacity to undertake OTLs and moderation themselves £100 per observation

 

Room hire: To be provided upon request

*All additional service charges will attract the current rate of VAT

  1. Payment Terms

Depending on the delivery, payment terms will differ for each subcontractor.

7.1. Payments will be paid monthly in arrears and will be based on actual f­­­­­unding earned to the end of the previous calendar month per submitted ILR information. The Council will produce a monthly ILR within 10 working days of the end of the previous month. It will extract from this the data relating to the Sub-contractor. The ILR will show how much Funding has been earned in relation to the Learning Provision delivered by the Sub-contractor to the end of the month under review. A detailed report which includes details on each individual learner and the amount due for payment that month will be provided to the Sub-contractor to enable them to check the accuracy of the underlying data and identify any omissions. Any adjustments required will be processed and reflected in the payment due to the Sub-contractor for that month, if they are notified to the Council by the 20th working day of the month and where the impact on the payment due to the Sub-contractor would be more than 10%. Otherwise they will be reflected in the payment due for the following month.

7.2. The Council will pay the Sub-contractor its cumulative funding earned each month for the academic year. Monthly reconciliation will be applied to identify any further deductions to be made for any payments already made in relation to the Academic Year.

7.3. The Council will charge a 15% + VAT management fee on all of the cumulative funding earned each month of the academic year. If there are additional charges made by the Council, as listed in the Subcontractor Contract, all service fees will attract VAT.

7.4. If for any reason it is not possible to produce an ILR and hence calculate the Funding due, Payments will be made based on the profile set out at the end of this Appendix. Balancing Payments or adjustments would then be made to reflect actual Funding earned as soon as the system became available. The profile to be used for Funding Payments would be in accordance with the table at the end of this Appendix.

7.5. Where there is a failure to comply with the terms of this Agreement or any arrangements agreed between the Council and the Sub-contractor, the Council may withhold part of the Payments otherwise due.

7.6. In accordance with Clause 22 of this Agreement, part of the Funding due to the Sub-contractor may be withheld if there are breaches of the terms of the Agreement.

7.7. An invoice will be provided by the Sub-contractor to the Council for the gross amount shown on the Subcontractor Report, this will be paid within 30 working days of receipt or 10 working days for a small to medium sized enterprise, provided it is in agreement with the figures provided by the Council or any adjusted figure agreed.

7.8. The Council will raise an invoice for its management fees monthly, this fee will be based on the cumulative funding earned for each month of the academic year. All management fees will be charged at 15% + VAT, to be paid by the Sub-contractor.  The invoice provided by the Council to the Sub-contractor will be paid within 30 working days of receipt.

7.9. If the Agency shall for any reason whatsoever (being a reason outside the control of the Council) refuse or fail to pay the fees of any Funded Learner, then the Council shall be under no obligation to pay any part of the Funding relating to the said Funded Learner.

7.10. The Council will withhold Funding earned in respect of any delivery of functional skills delivered by the Council, as agreed with the Sub-contractor.

7.11. The Council will charge the Sub-contractor in accordance with agreed rates for any additional work undertaken over and above that provided as part of the management fee. Any such services and the corresponding charges are dealt with in a separate service level agreement (SLA). All management fees will attract VAT.

7.12. After submission of the final claim to the Agency, a final reconciliation of funding due to the Sub-contractor in respect of the academic year that has just ended will be made and any payments due to them will be processed. As part of this mechanism, the balance of any management fee due to the Council will be collected. This amount will be collected through invoicing arrangements in subsequent months in relation to the 2020/21 academic year.

  1. Publication of this policy

This policy, effective from 1 August 2020, is reviewed annually and is published on BAL’s website (www.adultlearningbc.ac.uk), in accordance with ESFA funding rules, which require all providers who subcontract provision to publish a supply chain and charges policy, in the interests of transparency and openness. The policy sets out how subcontractors are appointed, performance management arrangements and outlines the management charges and fees for those who are governed by a formal subcontractor agreement. This policy has been shared with all current subcontractors.

  1. Common Accord

View the Common Accord

Download the Subcontractor Management Fees and Charges Policy for 2019/20

Subcontractor Supply Chain Fees

Buckinghamshire Adult Learning subcontracts some elements of the ESFA funded provision to meet our customers’, both local and regional, needs. Currently only apprenticeships, traineeships and other Adult Skills Budget funded provision is subcontracted as outlined in our Subcontractor Policy.

Here you will find supply chain fees and charges and actual funding paid and retained 2013 to 2014, 2014 to 2015, 2015 to 2016, 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018 and 2018 to 2019:

Sub-contractor contract values, funding earned and fees paid for 2013/14

Sub-contractor contract values, funding earned and fees paid for 2014/15

Sub-contractor contract values, funding earned and fees paid for 2015/16

Sub-contractor contract values, funding earned and fees paid for 2016/17

Sub-contractor contract values, funding earned and fees paid for 2017/18

Sub-contractor contract values, funding earned and fess paid for 2018/19

Subcontractor Exit Plan 2020-2021

Adult Learning Subcontractor Exit Plan

1. Scope

1.1 This schedule:

a) sets out the strategy to be followed on termination (including partial termination) due to breach or expiry of any other form of contractual agreement; and

b) sets out the strategy to be followed on notice of withdrawal of contractual agreement by the Subcontractor; and

c) requires the Sub-contractor to support an orderly, controlled transition of responsibility for the provision of training services from the Sub-contractor to the Council, a new Provider or other existing Sub-contractor of the Council’s, with the minimum of disruption and so as to prevent or mitigate any inconvenience to the Council and that of its Learners by means of the implementation of the Exit Plan.

2. Purposes for Exit Plan

2.1   breach to terms and conditions of the Contract (See clause 22 of the Contract)

2.2   in situations where the Council is no longer in a position to subcontract in-line with their terms and conditions of the Contract, including, but not exclusive to, removal of subcontractor eligibility to deliver learning, financial or quality concerns about the subcontractor delivery.

2.3   in situations where the Sub-contractor is no longer in a position to supply Learning Services in-line with their terms and conditions of the Contract, including, but not exclusive to, withdrawal from contract, liquidation, administration or closing of their business and all delivered services

3. Exit Governance

3.1  The Council’s Senior Management Team and/or Governing Body and Adult Learning’s Management Team will meet to agree termination of the Contract once all other forms of remedies have been ineffective.

3.2  The Council will write to the Sub-contractor notifying them of their decision to terminate the Contract or to agree with their withdrawal from contract and agree a date by which all Learners should have been transferred to another Provider or which may or may not be the Council.

3.3  The Council and the Sub-contractor will arrange a meeting to discuss and prepare an Exit Plan which is to include;

a) defining of the resources required to carry out the provision as outlined in the Contract;

b) identification of whether the provision can be transferred to the Council, a new Provider or other existing Sub-contractor of the Council’s;

20/21 Plan for transfer of provision on exit from sub-contractor
Provision Transfer to
Apprenticeship Delivery Transferred to Council, until a replacement subcontractor can be found
Classroom delivery Learners transferred to Council. Outstanding funding distributed via variance to existing subcontractor contracts
  1. identification of any risks involved which could impact the carrying out of the provision as outlined in the Contract;
  2. educate all parties of security, confidentiality, audit and exit/transition management of which the Sub-contractor must comply;
  3. construct a list of processes, standards, procedures, manuals and any associated reference material that are employed by the Sub-contractor to provision services being terminated;
  4. construct a full list of assets purchased through government funding which relates to the Learning Services and requires transfer to the Council;
  5. calculate the cost of the services whereby the Council has to take over the operation of the Learners’ programmes, the Council may recover from the Sub-contractor the cost reasonably incurred in making those other arrangements and any additional expenditure incurred by the Council throughout the remainder of the contract period;
  6. document details of Personnel transfer in accordance with the TUPE Regulations including without limitation such information as the Sub-contractor is required to provide in accordance with the delivery of the Learning Services;
  7. include a list of Key Personnel;
  8. details of any work in progress;
  9. the list of all required consents to effect a smooth and orderly termination of Learning Services and hand-over to the Council or a new Provider as the case may be;
  10. document each Party’s responsibilities for the provision of the Learning Services commencing on the Trigger Date:
  11. up to the Termination Date, Partial Termination Date or Expiry Date;
  12. on the Termination Date, Partial Termination Date or Expiry Date; and

c) during any parallel running of the Learning Services by the Sub-contractor and the Council or any new Provider (if relevant);

4. Service Transfer Plan

4.1 The Sub-contractor shall:

a). ensure that the Service Transfer Plan deals as a minimum with developing in more detail those areas set out in the Exit Plan, together with such other provisions as the Sub-contractor deems necessary in accordance with Good Industry Practice; and

b). revise and update the Service Transfer Plan in accordance with any reasonable instructions of the Council from time to time in each case so as to establish a detailed plan and management structure for all activities required for exit of the Sub-contractor under the specific conditions applying at the time and to enable a smooth and orderly transition of the Learning Services to a new Provider within the specified timescales.

4.2 Production, revision and updating of the Exit Plan and the Service Transfer Plan shall be at the Sub-contractors cost and expense.

5. Implementation of Service Transfer Plan

5.1  Upon approval of the Service Transfer Plan by the Council (or determination of the Service Transfer Plan in accordance with the Dispute Resolution Procedure, as appropriate), following a Trigger Date, the Sub-contractor shall implement the Service Transfer Plan in accordance with its terms.

5.2 The Sub-contractor shall promptly comply with all reasonable instruction from the Council with regard to the implementation and execution of the Service Transfer Plan including, without limitation to the generality of the foregoing:

a). Co-operating with any new Provider and other Third Parties, including without limitation in relation to transfer of Personnel and transfer of Data; and

b). Making such Key Personnel available to the new Provider for a reasonable period of time after expiry, termination or Partial Termination as the case may be to be agreed with the Sub-contractor and the Council in order to assist in the transfer of responsibility for the provision of the Learning Services.

5.3 Subject to paragraph 22.6, the charges payable to the Sub-contractor in relation to the implementation of the Service Transfer Plan shall be agreed in writing by the Parties.

5.4 In no event shall the Sub-contractor be entitled to any payment under paragraph 5.3 in respect of any Services, work, products or activities which it was or is required to undertake or provide under this Agreement, notwithstanding the terms of the Service Transfer Plan.

6. Disclosure of Exit Documents

The Sub-contractor acknowledges that, notwithstanding any of the Council’s obligations of confidentiality under this Agreement, the Council may at any time disclose the Exit Plan and/or Service Transfer Plan to Third Parties who are tendering or involved in the tendering process for the transfer of the Learning Services on termination or expiry of their Agreement or Partial Termination to a new Provider.

6.1 The Sub-contractor should detail the Documentation to be prepared and be made available during exit including without limitation:

a). Data on Personnel as defined by, and constrained by, the TUPE Regulations and other employment legislation;

b). Asset Register including release and version numbers;

c). Data on Learners;

d). Services databases and structure

7. Rights to Continued Support Services

7.1. the Sub-contractor shall, after the termination or expiry of their Agreement or Partial Agreement, if required by notice in writing from the Council, provide to such new Provider as the Council may direct, continued support and/or maintenance of which the proprietary knowledge of skills of the Sub-contractor is required:

a). for a period of time to be agreed between the Sub-contractor and the Council; and

b). on commercial and other terms which reflect the Sub-contractor’s then standard terms of the provision of such Learning Services to its Learners (or, in the absence of any such standard terms, on such commercial and other terms as may be agreed between the Sub-contractor and the Council, provided that both the Council and the Sub-contractor shall be under an obligation to act reasonably in such discussions and any resulting commercial terms agreed shall in any event be fair and reasonable in all the prevailing circumstances).

8. Continued Performance

8.1 Except as otherwise expressly specified in the Service Transfer Plan or any other form of official agreement, the Sub-contractor shall at all times during exit continue to perform its other obligations, including in respect of the achievement of the Service Levels.

9. Scope of Exit Strategy

The Sub-contractor shall ensure that the Exit Strategy deals as a minimum with those areas set out in this paragraph 9 (the ‘Exit Scope’), together with such other provisions as the Sub-contractor deems necessary or the Council may reasonably request from time to time:

9.1 the name and contact details of each Party’s representative who will act as the primary point of contact for all exit related matters;

9.2 the timing and process for jointly establishing an exit team of suitably skills representatives of the Parties to manage the implementation of the Exit Plan (‘Exit Team’), and replacements thereof including without limitation the following information:

a). the name and contact details for each member of the Exit Team and his/her role;

b). the Exit Team shall consist of no more than three (3) Representatives from each party;

c). reporting lines;

d). liaison lines between the Council and the Sub-contractor any other Provider or Third Party;

e). responsibilities for approval of Documentation; and

f). escalation processes;

9.3 unless the Parties agree otherwise, the Exit Plan shall cover the period commencing on the Trigger Date and ending on the Termination Date or Expiry Date (as appropriate);

9.4 a project plan detailing the timeframes for implementation of each part of the Exit Plan and any milestones that need to be met by the Sub-contractor or the Council or any new Provider;

9.5 details of the management processes and controls to be used in the implementation of the Exit Plan;

9.6 a list of the meetings that shall take place during implementation of the Exit Plan. Unless agreed otherwise in writing between the Parties, the Exit Team shall meet at least once a week;

9.7 a list of the Assets that are capable of delivery by leaving those Assets in situ in a safe and secure condition at the relevant Premises, and any other Assets that are to be transferred to the Council or to a new Provider including without limitation the following information:

a). an outline of the process and timeframes for the transfer of the Assets to the Council; and

b). the procedure and timeframe for the transfer back of Assets owned by the Council or leased to the Sub-contractor by the Council or the Agency, if appropriate.