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The Mayor of London The London Assembly

The GLA’s Adult Education Budget data publication

The Adult Education Budget (AEB), devolved in August 2019 to the GLA, funds education and training for adults aged 19 and above.

In this article, we present key aspects and findings of the latest AEB data release, covering the first two quarters of the academic year 2020/21. It should be noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on the Further Education (FE) sector in London during the reporting period. Thus, extra care should be taken in interpreting this data.

New AEB data release

The GLA has published detailed information about the AEB programme in July 2021[1]. This data release, based on administrative education records[2], provides London, sub-regional and borough[3] level data and presents figures for the first six months of the 2020/21 academic year from August to January.

In this article, we show some headline statistics of the programme, such as AEB participation (number of learners and aims enrolments), demographic characteristics of the learners, course levels and subject areas chosen, and some of the Mayoral areas of interest.

Adult Education Budget, academic year 2020/21

1.1 AEB participation August-January 2020/21

In the first half of the 2020/21 academic year, there were 130,590 learners participating in the AEB programme. All of the Sub-Regional Partnerships[4] and London boroughs (except the City of London) showed significant activity (above 1,500 learners[5]) during the publication period. The top 5 London boroughs with the highest number of learners were Newham (7,530), Lambeth (6,080), Southwark (6,010), Croydon (5,830) and Brent (5,790). The full frequency distribution of learners by London Boroughs is shown in Figure 1[6].

Figure 1:

1.2 Adult (19+) Demographic Summary of FE and Skills Participation

Figure 2 shows key demographic characteristics of the AEB learners. Of the total number of participants (130,590) in 2020/21:

  • 70% were female (90,960 learners) and 30% were male (39,630);
  • 57% were from a black or minority ethnic background (67,060 learners including mixed, Asian, black and other ethnic group learners)[7] and 43% were from a white background (51,160);
  • 13% were aged 19-23 (16,510 learners), 63% were aged 24-49 (82,750), and 24% 50+ (31,620).

There are some notable differences by Funding Model in terms of ethnicity and age. Compared to Community Learning, Adult Skills engaged a higher proportion of BAME and younger learners.

Figure 2:

The GLA also monitors background characteristics that can be used to identify certain groups in need. Figure 3 shows these non-mutually exclusive fields, which represent a significant portion of delivery:

  • Amongst those who have self-reported their employment status (around 108,520 learners mostly in Adult Skills funding category), 61% declared not to be in employment;
  • In Adult Skills learning, around 50% of provision in terms of funding were eligible for the disadvantage uplift funding[8] (49,670 learners); 
  • 13% (15,990 learners) consider themselves to be LLDD (learners self-reporting a learning difficulty and/or disability and/or health problem). Note that this statistic excludes cases where the information was not collected (5% of the total number of learners);
  • 5% (6,270 learners) of the total number of participants received learner support[9].

Figure 3:

1.3 Aims enrolments

Learners can have more than one aim during the academic year. There were 255,040 aims over the course of the first two quarters of the 2020/21 academic year (on average each learner undertakes 2 aims).

Figure 4 shows enrolments (starts) during the first six months of the academic years 2019/20 and 2020/21. In 2020/21, there were 255,040 aims enrolments in London during the publication period and the majority of these enrolments for the AEB belong to funding category Adult Skills. Total aims enrolments decreased by 9% compared to 281,700 in the same period in 2019/20, which is in line with the national picture. However, year-over-year growth shows differences by funding stream. Enrolments decreased by 29% in Community Learning and increased by 0.4% in Adult Skills.

Figure 4:

Table 1 shows that the aim level composition differs between Adult Skills and Community Learning funding models. Adults Skills delivery ranges between Entry Level and Level 3.  A significant proportion is associated with Level 2 and 3 qualifications this year. On the other hand, Community Learning tends to be concentrated at the Other Level (i.e. level not applicable).

Table 1:

Almost half of all AEB aims enrolments correspond to Preparation for Life and Work courses (which includes English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Maths and English) and the vast majority is funded via Adult Skills. Other popular subjects in Adult Skills include Health, Public Services and Care, and Business, Administration, Finance and Law (see Table 2). The most popular subjects in Community Learning are Arts, Media and Publishing, Languages, Literature and Culture and Preparation for Life and Work. Detailed statistics, including additional breakdowns by level and background characteristics are available online. 

Table 2:

1.4 Adult (19+) achievements in AEB-funded Further Education

In this publication, achievement statistics are counts of achieved learning aims, not unique learners. Of the 255,040 aims enrolments: 59% were “study continuing” (150,560); 32% had completed and achieved (80,490); around 1% had partially achieved (200); 4% had not achieved (10,900); and the result was pending for around 5% (12,880).

1.5 Mayoral areas of interest

The Adult Education Budget aims to be a diverse and inclusive programme that offers more opportunities for all. Aligned with this objective, the Mayor of London is particularly interested in some qualifications and learners that require more attention and support. In this publication, these are Entitlements (such as basic skills, see below), British Sign Language courses, learners in receipt of a low wage, and the COVID-19 Skills Recovery Package.


Basics skills are essential in enabling people to function in society and progress in learning and employment. Therefore, the legal entitlements play a key role amongst eligible adult learners taking English and Maths, Digital and Level 2 and Level 3 learning. Table 3 shows that 25,970 learners participated in 42,110 courses, including Digital entitlements that have been introduced in the first six months of the academic year 2020/21.

Table 3:

Note: Entitlement learning is learning taken as part of the legal
entitlement to full funding for eligible adult learners for English and Maths,
Digital and Level 2 and Level 3 learning[10].
Levels are based on the notional NVQ level version two.

British Sign Language

During the first half of 2020/21 academic year, 50 people participated in 90 British Sign Language courses[11].

Learners in receipt of low wage

From August 2020 to January 2021, 12,830 learners in receipt of low wage participated in the Adult Skills’ stream of the AEB programme. They enrolled in 19,960 aims ranging from Entry Level to Level 3.

AEB Covid-19 Skills Recovery Package

The COVID-19 Skills Recovery Package made funding available to support London’s recovery by enabling providers to meet demand for learning and skills to protect, support and create jobs, under these programme strands. In this publication are included, High value courses for 19-year olds, Sector-based Work Academy Programmes and London Recovery Programmes. By 31st January 2021, 4,530 learners participated in these programmes, taking 7,930 courses in London (see Table 4).

Table 4:

Further breakdowns and more information about Mayoral areas of interest are available on the GLA AEB website page.

[1] Data tables and further information are available on the GLA AEB
website page

[2] Individualised Learner Records (ILR) R06, August-January 2020/21 data.

[3] For ease of communication the term London boroughs includes the 32
London boroughs and the City of London.

[4] Central London Forward includes all learning matched to LADs of Camden, the City of London, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster. Local London includes all learning matched to LADs of Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Bromley, Enfield, Greenwich, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest. South London Partnership comprises all learning matched to LADs of Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Sutton. West London Alliance comprises all learning matched to LADs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow.

[5] The exception is the City of London that, with a relatively small population, is a historic financial district.

[6] Further breakdowns by Sub-regional partnerships are available online.

[7] The percentage calculation for the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and White measures exclude instances of unknown ethnicity.

[8] Disadvantage funding does not apply to Community Learning, so only Adult Skills learning is included.

[9] These are learners who are reported to receive the types of learner support included in the GLA’s AEB funding rules.

[10] See the GLA’s AEB funding rules for further information on entitlements, and the methodology note for details on how entitlement learning has been identified.

[11] The GLA fully fund any learner aged 19+ whose first or preferred language is British Sign Language (BSL), or who cannot access spoken language because of their deafness and would benefit from BSL, to study for qualifications in BSL, up to and including level 2.