learning and skills' providers offering choice and value to learners
and employers were unveiled today by education and skills secretary Charles Clarke.
conference in London, Mr Clarke outlined his vision for a new
relationship with the sector. With success rates improving and
positive signs that the Success for All reforms are being embraced by
the learning and skills sector, he set out his proposals for
empowering the front-line by reducing bureaucracy and creating a high
quality, responsive, demand-led sector responsible for its own
Mr Clarke said:
'The sectors success speaks for itself. College success rates for all
qualifications have increased from 59 per cent in 2000/01 to 65 per
cent in 2001/02. There are a record number of apprentices, and
completion rates have increased on average by nearly five percentage
points over the last year.
'But, we need more. Only by maximising the skills of the whole
workforce can we deliver a successful economy and social justice. I
want every young person prepared for the world of work. I want them
to have some vocational experience between the ages of 14 and 16 and
to have access to a high quality apprenticeship. I want every adult
to have the skills they need for employability. And I want every
employer to be able to expect all job applicants to have good levels
of literacy and numeracy, and skills. We can only achieve this
through stronger and more autonomous colleges and training providers.
'The new vision is based upon trust and devolution of responsibility
to the front line. Sir Andrew Foster's bureaucracy review group has
today published its first annual report. I welcome this report which
recommends the introduction of a more strategic approach to
regulation and inspection which is very much in line with our vision
for the sector. We are working with the Inspectorates to put this
into effect with a new inspection model starting in 2005 which will
be based much more on validation of self assessment and will be
'light touch' for those who have demonstrated their competence and
'Many college principals have told us that too many organisations are
involved in quality improvements. I want to streamline this landscape
to ensure a clearer focus and direction. I intend to establish one
national strategic body to drive forward quality improvements and
bring together quality-assurance activity which is currently
dispersed across several bodies. I have invited the LSDA to work with
the Department to consider how best to undertake this role.'
Publishing his report, Sir Andrew said:
'The way forward is not to adopt the narrower approach of shortening
forms and streamlining administrative processes, but to modernise
management to the highest standards. I welcome the new lighter touch
inspection arrangements that will place responsibility for quality
with colleges and learning providers and help build up trust within
the learning and skills sector.'
Mr Clarke also reminded delegates that he was looking for a
change in culture and attitudes to achieve the aims of the Skills
Strategy. He added:
'Last year's Skills Strategy set out a vision for transforming our
national investment in skills. Central to this is achieving a new
balance of responsibilities and funding between government, employers
and learners which will require a historic shift in expectations and
practice about who pays for what.
'The government has responsibility to secure and pay for high quality
initial education and training for young people. That will remain
true. The Government will continue to make a major investment in
adult learning. But it cannot and should not fund all the skills
investment needed to sustain a competitive economy.'
'The contribution that employers and learners make towards the cost
of training in the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) funded sector is
not as high as might be reasonably expected when we look at other
countries. As announced in last year's Skills Strategy we will ask
the LSC to take forward a consultation process this summer on how to
maximise funding in the sector.'
Concluding his speech, Mr Clarke said that he wanted a dialogue
with the sector about the new relationship. He announced he would be
starting this debate by meeting a group of college principals before
the summer break to discuss key issues facing the sector. The
secretary of state also announced the appointment of Chris Banks as
the new chair of the LSC.
Mr Clarke concluded:
'This is a far reaching vision for delivering a successful economy
and social justice and I want the sector to take ownership of that
vision. That is why I will be entering into a dialogue with the
sector over the next few months. By the end of June the LSC will
provide me with an interim report setting out the issues raised as a
result of their roadshows and by the end of July I intend to meet
personally with 25-30 college and learning provider principals.
'I am today announcing the appointment of Chris Banks as the new
chairman for the LSC. This comes at a critical time for the learning
and skills sector as the LSC will be pivotal in implementing the
reforms announced today. Chris is a leading business figure and
champion of learning who has already worked closely with the DfES,
DTI and Jobcentre plus.'
Chris Banks, new chair of the LSC, said:
'I am delighted to be appointed to chair the Learning and Skills
Council. This is an important time for us. We are ready for the
challenges that face us and determined to make real progress.'
'We have a clear direction; we will make sure that young people and
adults in this country have the knowledge and skills to match the
best in the world and we will help employers to get the training and
skills they need for their businesses.
'The LSC has strong partnerships, a vital network of local councils
and strong management at a national, regional and local level. I am
looking forward to working closely with the chief executive Mark
Haysom and confident the LSC will have the skills and experience to
plan and invest in high quality education and training that will
build a skilled and competitive workforce.'
1. Mr Clarke was speaking at the Learning and Skills Development
Agency's annual summer conference.
2. The inspection proposals place self-assessment at the heart of the
process. Inspectorates' contact with colleges and providers will be
more frequent; but the bureaucratic burden on them is reduced through
better co-ordination and making inspection proportionate to risk.
There will be a formal consultation on the Common Inspection
Framework in October 2004 and the new framework will be published in
early 2005. This new model will be introduced in 2005 and the chief
inspectors will be writing to colleges and other providers shortly
with further details.
3. Sir Andrew's Bureaucracy report can be found at
The report recommends:
*Strategic approach to regulation and inspection to be adopted within
12 months. There should be 25% less scrutiny and staff involved.
*Simplified Management Information System within 12 months and 40%
less data to be collected.
*Qualifications and Curriculum Authority modernisation programme to
include learning and skills sector qualifications.
*QCA to rationalise administration of awarding bodies, reduce burden
imposed by them by 30%.
*Framework contract between the DfES and the LSC should be
renegotiated - strategic leadership from the DfES and LSC to manage
4. Quality improvement body - the DfES and LSDA will undertake a
feasibility study between July and December 2004. The aim of the
study will be to develop design principles for the new quality
improvement body and assess the restructuring required if LSDA were
to take on the role. It will include consultation with key partners
to ensure that there is clarity about roles, relationships and
accountability for quality improvement. It is intended that there
will be a further statement to the sector on our proposals in the
Autumn and that the new body would be fully operational by April
5. Chris Banks was born in 1959.
Educated at Bristol Cathedral School and graduated from Birmingham
University. He is currently chief executive of food and drinks firm
Bigthoughts. He is a member of the National Learning and Skills
Council and chair of the Young People's Learning Committee; chair of
the London Employers' Coalition for New Deal; and a member of the
Supervisory Board of Community Action Network. The appointment is
part-time, around two days a week. The salary for this post will be
£50,000 per annum. Mr Banks has declared no political activity during
the past five years.