Magazine article Public Finance

FE Reform Welcomed, but 'Could Be Bolder'

Magazine article Public Finance

FE Reform Welcomed, but 'Could Be Bolder'

Article excerpt

Further education leaders have urged Education Secretary Ruth Kelly to be more radical in her reforms, following publication of the white paper on the future of the sector this week.

Under the proposals, colleges will focus on the needs of employers, providing vocational skills training and acting as an engine for economic growth. All under-25s will be able to study for A-levels or GNVQs free of charge and maintenance grants will be available for the first time.

Failing colleges that do not improve within a year will face takeover by other colleges or private bidders, while an £11m workforce investment programme will be launched to tackle staffing shortages and improve standards.

The government has also pledged to tackle the funding disparity that means that sixthform students in schools are around 10% better funded than their counterparts in FE colleges.

College leaders, trade unions and employers all gave the governments plans, largely based on last year's report by Sir Andrew Foster, a broad welcome. But there were complaints that it was not bold enough.

The Association of School and College Leaders said the government had been too timid in its pledge to reduce the burden of regulation and bureaucracy.

ASCL deputy general secretary Martin Ward urged Kelly to go further and cut the £500m annual bill. …

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