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 County 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 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 £10 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 £25 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 £7.60 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.
  2. Please note, an annual £10 registration fee applies upon enrolment.

Data

  1. The personal information you provide is passed to the Chief Executive of Skills Funding (“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 www.gov.uk/government/organisations/skills-funding-agency

The 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. Learners who do not wish to do this will be charged £10 per hour.
  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 18 or over at the start of their learning for all non-accredited courses.

All information correct as at May 2016

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@buckscc.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 and Diversity 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 & diversity

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 and diversity policy.

Customer feedback

The personal information you provide is passed to the Chief Executive of the Education and Skills Funding (“the Agency”) and, when needed, the Department for Education, including 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

Please note, we are required to make certain surveys available to all learners. On occasion the survey will be carried out on behalf of ourselves or the Education and Skills Funding Agency by a third party.

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

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.

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 Guidelines for Suspected Plagiarism

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

Data Protection

The personal information you provide is passed to the Chief Executive of the Education and Skills Funding (“the Agency”) and, when needed, the Department for Education, including 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 www.gov.uk/government/organisations/education-and-skills-funding-agency

Please note, we are required to make certain surveys available to all learners. On occasion the survey will be carried out on behalf of ourselves or the Education and Skills Funding Agency by a third party.

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@buckscc.gov.uk.

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

Subcontractor Policy

Subcontractor Management Fees and Charges Policy for 2016/17

  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 Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the Education Funding Agency (EFA) designed to meet the Council’s strategic objectives and the SFA’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 Adult 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 SFA and EFA funded provision to meet our customers’, both local and regional, needs. Currently only apprenticeships, traineeships and other Adult Skills Budget funded provision is subcontracted. Principally this is in order to:

  • Expand our provision with new courses or delivery models that BAL is currently not equipped 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 SFA. 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 had 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 2014, following a comprehensive due diligence process, under which financial capability, capacity to deliver and meet local needs and quality measures were evaluated. Fifteen suppliers passed and were added to the Council’s approved suppliers’ list. Being accepted as an approved supplied did not guarantee the offer of funding and a contract for 2016/17.

The second part of the process was a mini-competition under which prospective suppliers were invited to tender for funding from £20,000 to £120,000. In total £420,000 of Adult Skills Budget, £84,000 for 16-18 apprenticeships and £40,000 for 16-18 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 Skills Budget exceeded that available and BAL was not able to offer any funding for general classroom-based learning and workplace learning.

During 2016/17, 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 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 sub-contractors 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 IV and EV 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 2016/17, the fee rate charged to manage subcontractors will be 15%. 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. The 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:

  • A named contract manager as first point of contact who will respond promptly to any queries and monitor the contract throughout the year
  • Four monitoring meetings per year where provider performance against contract and the quality of the delivery are discussed and action plans for improvement agreed
  • Monthly contact to provide additional information and support
  • Paperwork submission quality and accuracy checks
  • Enrolments once data submissions are fully correct
  • MIS data monitoring for completeness, accuracy and financial payments
  • Audit checks of the full delivery information, including, but not exclusive to, 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
  • Processing of ILR returns, data validation and reporting
  • Submitting returns to the Student Loans Company
  • Document retention
  • Course code set-ups for all courses to be delivered
  • Due diligence quality checks
  • Access to funding support
  • Access to CPD services
  • Access to support and challenge against SAR and QIP to ensure quality improvements
  • Responsibility for the external audit on sub-contracted provision
  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
  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. Payments will be made within 28 days of receipt of invoice, unless the sub-contractor is an SME, in which case payment will be made within 10 days. BAL will produce a monthly ILR within 10 working days of the end of the previous month, up to and including August 2016. It will extract from this the data relating to the subcontractor. The ILR will show how much Funding has been earned in relation to the Learning Provision delivered by the subcontractor 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 subcontractor 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 subcontractor for that month, if they are notified to BAL by the 20th working day of the month and where the impact on the payment due to the subcontractor would be more than 10%. Otherwise they will be reflected in the payment due for the following month.

7.2 BAL will pay the subcontractor its cumulative Funding earned for the academic year to date after deducting the 15% management fee and any payments already made in relation to that Academic Year. If BAL has any concern at any time with regard to learner eligibility, that the learners have not been enrolled on the correct learning aim or any other matter that might impact on the funding earned by the Subcontractor, BAL may, at its discretion but in discussion with the Subcontractor, suspend further payments until it receives assurance on these matters.

7.3 20% of the funding (once management fee has been deducted) will be paid out upon receipt of all achievement data and paperwork.

7.4 If the funding money is withdrawn from BAL by either the SFA or the EFA, retrospectively BAL reserves the right to withdraw funding from the sub-contractor.

7.5 No payment will be made where the activity exceeds the Maximum Contract Value unless a contract variation agreement has previously been signed.

7.6 Subcontractors have a responsibility to assess the accuracy of payments and therefore have a responsibility to review their monthly financial reconciliations to identify any inaccuracies.

  1. Publication of this policy

This policy, effective from 1 August 2015, is reviewed annually and is published on BAL’s website (www.adultlearningbcc.ac.uk), in accordance with SFA 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 subcontract agreement. This policy has been shared with all current subcontractors.

  1. Common Accord

View the Common Accord 

Click here to download the Subcontractor Management Fees and Charges Policy for 2015/16

Subcontractor Supply Chain Fees

Buckinghamshire Adult Learning subcontracts some elements of the SFA and EFA 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 and 2014 to 2015:

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

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