Portsmouth education centre faces cuts but can remain open

School heads join MP to call for fair share of funding

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THE Learning Place in North End will receive some form of funding to stay open in the forthcoming year.

The centre provides educational classes for adults and was previously funded by The Skills Funding Agency and Portsmouth City Council.

But there had been fears by visitors of the learning centre that it would no longer receive the funding to carry on with it’s services.

A petition had been set up and was presented to the city council’s budget-setting full council meeting by Kate Bushnell, who used the Learning Place to gain qualifications in English and maths.

She said: ‘I and some friends from the centre created the petition and we had over 500 signatures.

‘The stories people tell you about how much The Learning Place has changed their lives is amazing.’

Portsmouth City Council will not be able to carry on funding the centre alongside The Skills Funding Agency but it did bid for a grant so the £118,000 it previously received from the agency can continue. Although this means reduced services, the centre can remain open for another year.

Rob Wood, cabinet member for education and children, said: ‘It is a very good facility and we are more than willing to help it find more sustainable sources of funding for the future.

‘We aim to help them apply for other sponsors because it is clear that local authority funding is facing cuts.

‘There were many hard decisions we had to make in regards to the budget and we had to consider other important things.

‘We can no longer be the one-stop shop but we do want to help as much as we can.

‘I have used the centre so I know how good a place it is.’

As well as providing facilities for core qualifications like English and maths, the centre also provides classes for cookery and health.

Deborah Burns, a petitioner, said: ‘The Learning Place is more than just a “place” to learn. It is also about forging links with the community.

‘I have recently completed two IT courses at The Learning Place.

‘These skills have enabled me to help set up a business with my partner.’